Ask Matt: How can I make the most of a contract-to-hire job?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: April 1, 2013 - 9:59 AM

Dear Matt: I’ve been offered a contract-to-hire job. Why do companies want contract-to-hire workers instead of permanent employees? How can I make the most of this opportunity and go from contract-to-hire to full-time employee, which is what I really want?

Matt says: While it may seem like a contract-to-hire position favors the employer, there are many reasons why this type of work arrangement can benefit the job seeker. And that’s why if you are searching for a job, want to change jobs, or are curious about a company, don’t overlook the benefits offered through a contract-to-hire position.

The perception that most companies use contract-to-hire employees only for short-term projects, or because they don’t want to keep them long-term, is just not accurate. In fact, the reasons behind why some employers hire contract-to-hire employees actually benefits the job seeker, says Brad Konik, president of George Konik Associates, Inc. (georgekonik.com), a Twin Cities-based staffing firm that hires for positions in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

This type of arrangement allows employers to make much quicker hiring decisions, reducing the time it takes to complete the interview, offer and acceptance process, says Konik. “When employers are hiring full-time it often requires an extensive interview process, involving several different managers and possible multiple interview sessions. Hiring contract-to-hire allows the employer to make a quicker decision — usually after just one 30-60 minute interview, with the understanding that if the employee doesn’t work out during the contract period, they can end the contract.”

But that also holds true for the employee. They have the benefit of accepting a contract-to-hire position with the understanding that if they do not like the position they can resign without burning any bridges, as this is the nature of a contract-to-hire agreement, says Konik. This is also a great opportunity to gain experience with a new company, work in a new culture, add new skills, expand your professional network, learn what it’s like working in other environments and learn more about what you want in your next opportunity.

That being said, Konik highly recommends every contract-to-hire employee approach the job with the same zest, professionalism and strong work ethic that would make the company want to keep them on as a permanent hire.

“Take pride in your work, make sure you are on time, try to exceed expectations and communicate with HR and management about your interest in becoming a full-time direct employee,” says Konik. “These are the same traits employers will be looking for when considering whether to convert a contract employee into a direct position.”

Got a career question for Matt? E-mail askmatt@startribune.com

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