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Ask Matt: Do companies not want to hire contract workers?

  • February 18, 2014 - 9:47 AM

Dear Matt: I’ve been working in freelance/contract roles the past few years and am now looking to find a full-time permanent job, but I’m not getting any interviews. Do companies not want to hire contract workers?

Matt says: It’s not uncommon for companies to hire workers with extensive freelance, contract or consulting experience. Project-based and short and long-term contract positions are common in creative, IT, finance, manufacturing, administrative, healthcare, retail, sales, management or marketing roles, among others. According to the American Staffing Association, just under three million people are employed in contract roles by staffing companies every business day.

So the short answer is, companies absolutely will hire contractors and are doing so daily, say three St. Paul-based recruiters.

“Quite often, our best job candidates have come from contract positions,” says Wendy Benning, owner and managing director of Verum Staffing (verumstaffing.com), a company that hires scientists and science graduates.

If you’re struggling to find opportunities, it’s probably something to do with the way you are presenting yourself to employers. When you write a cover letter or résumé, don’t focus on your contract role. Instead, focus on the results and show proof of achievement and successes. Make it clear in the first sentence of your cover letter and in the summary section of your résumé that you are now searching for a full-time permanent position. Be ready to prove you are dedicated to success in this full-time role if you do get an interview.

“Some hiring managers may have taken a chance on hiring a contract or freelance worker as a permanent employee only to have the person leave after a few months, so they may be hesitant to jump right in and hire someone with a strong freelance background,” says Sandy Dischinger, Managing Director of VALERE Consulting and Recruiting (valere.com), a creative and information technology staffing firm.

Wade Rastall, President of Falcon Lake Consulting, Inc. (falconlakeconsulting.com), an IT consulting firm, agrees. “If you have been a career consultant, an employer is going to need some extra convincing that you truly want to be a full-time employee of theirs — so have a good reason and be ready to share that reason in your cover letter and during your interview,” says Rastall.

Recruiters are used to seeing job seekers with unique and varied backgrounds. What they want is someone who can do the specific job they are hiring for. That’s all.

“Look at the job description posted for each particular position and ask yourself if your résumé presents a solution to their need,” says Benning. “If it doesn’t, you probably know the answer to why you are not getting noticed.”

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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