Being in the recruiting industry you gain a unique insight into the world of employment and various paths that lead to that goal. There is no doubt the recession has been tough for most of us, especially recruiters. When a downturn like this occurs, many companies will make drastic cuts in their organization.
Many companies cut too deeply and are now left short as demand increases. Current staff is left doing the jobs of two or even three employees and some employees even took demotions in position and pay cuts on top of that. Many companies recognize this, but won’t leap to hire full-time employees. They like to ease out of their cover and test the waters. So, the first signs of life out of a recession tend to start out as what is known as “contract,” “project” or “temporary” positions.
Employers will set aside budgets for specific projects that at the time are temporary in nature. The exciting part, aside from landing a source of income, is that these positions can lead to a full-time role within the organization. The goal is to make yourself stand-out and become irreplaceable.
First things first though, do your research and register with a reputable staffing firm. Look for ones that may specialize in your career field or industry in order to increase your chances of success. The reason for this is that many companies will not hire contract employees directly. Most will align with a staffing firm or have a list of staffing vendors that will supply qualified candidates. Typically, the larger the organization the more contract positions available and the more staffing vendors that will be assigned. Almost all staffing firms post their contract positions on their job boards. It is free to register and many will help you with your resume and interview skills. Be upfront with the staffing firm as well. Let them know you are flexible for contract positions but ultimately would like to secure a full-time role.
Once you land that all important contract role, think long-term. Even though a position can start out as a short project, it may be extended or become the opportunity that you were looking for.
For instance, I worked with a CFO that was contracted to a small company to help within its accounts receivable department. The company was growing fast and was getting behind in many areas. This CFO candidate proactively aligned himself with the president of the organization, offered some of his expertise along the way and long-story short ended up working himself into a CFO position. I know that seems like the exception rather than the norm, but the point is that you never know where an opportunity may lead.
Always lead with your best foot forward. Many times you are being evaluated for a full-time role without even knowing it. Things can change along the timeframe of a contract role and the easiest hire to make is one with the person already in the role. Treat the position like it is full-time. A client told me a story about candidate that was brought on contract into an accounts payable position. Two weeks into that contract position, the controller was authorized to hire a full-time employee in that department. When asked if they would like to bring on the current contractor already in A/P, the answer was no. In fact, the controller was looking to replace this candidate due to excessive personal phone calls, breaks and slow work performance. Had the candidate put his best foot forward, he would have landed a full-time role with benefits. Stories like this don’t surprise me, but do frustrate me considering the number of unemployed candidates that would have loved an opportunity like that and would have made the most of it.
Lastly, some other key points to remember are: go the extra mile. Always make a good impression, come in early, stay late, volunteer and stand out. Network as much as possible within the organization. You never know who knows who or where a friendly conversation may lead. Most of all, communicate to your manager your desire to stay. If you have all of the previous areas in this blog covered, your manager may even become your cheerleader in this conversation with upper management.
For the last two years, temporary positions have led not only to the rapid growth of our company, but the growth of many of the companies in our great city. Perhaps your next full-time role will start as a contract position. Remember to get in on the plethora of contract positions out there you first need to find a reputable staffing firm. Many are out there, so do your homework. Think long-term when you land that position. You never know where an opportunity will lead. Lastly, always put your best foot forward. Demonstrate your desire to stay on board with a company and always go the extra mile. Soon you may find yourself in an excellent position with a great company!
-Robert Reading, Director of Business Development at Kavaliro