In today's rapidly changing economy, the traditional model for long-term, full-time perm-anent employment seems almost outmoded. Individuals no longer expect to work for one company their whole career. Instead, another model has arisen that is appealing to both employers and jobseekers - why not start with a contract assignment and convert it to a full-time position?
Suppose a company has a full-time position open, but was burned by a bad hire before. This time it brings someone in for 90 days to help the marketing department coordinate the company's annual sales meeting. The meeting receives high marks from attendees and the program comes in under budget.
So why not immediately offer the contractor the full-time position? The advantage of a contract assignment, from the employer's perspective, is that there is no obligation to automatically transition to full time. Employers like having the freedom to evaluate how well the individual interacts with the rest of the staff. Maybe the worker is good at man- aging logistics but is not a strong team player. In this scenario, suppose the individual had problems working with some of the sales department's senior management. These are the same people she needs to work with consistently. Instead of making the job offer, the manager asks her to stay on for another 90 days to further evaluate her communication skills.
How do contractors react to such extended assignments? Some appreciate the opportunity to further evaluate the department and the company. Having an insider's perspective is extremely valuable. In some cases, workers decline the extended assignment because they're anxious to have a full-time position with a solid benefit package. Others are concerned that by committing to the extended assignment, they won't be available if a full-time position opens some- where else. This occurs most often when the manager has not advised them of the potential for a full-time job. In general, however, there are benefits for both employers and workers to using contract assignments as a testing ground for full-time positions.
Flexibility for Employers
A temporary contract assignment allows employers to confirm the worker's experience beyond what appears on the resume.
Employers can see how the individual interacts with important people in the company. If there's friction, the job may not be a good fit.
There are fewer restrictions about releasing people if they're not working out, even if it's before the project ends. In most cases, no more than two weeks' notice is required to end a contract assignment.
The company doesn't incur the added expense of a full-time employee. Typically, payment is either as an independent consultant, or through a temporary agency or employee leasing company.
By "testing the waters," contractors can see how the department operates. Do the other people work well together? Do supervisors micromanage or allow people to handle all aspects of a project?
A contract assignment gives workers the chance to see the type of projects the department handles. Are they interesting and challenging?
One can observe how the company views employees. What are the benefits?
Contract work gives individuals a chance to evaluate the growth potential of the department and the company.
Implementing contract assignments as a prelude to full-time employment can work with any level of position. Both employers and jobseekers might have a lot to gain with this new approach.