Dear Matt: I'm considering working temporary, contract-for-hire jobs. Can you tell me more about these opportunities, what they exactly are and how to succeed?

Matt: Contract-for-hire and temp-to-hire opportunities are a great way for organizations and candidates to meet and get to know each other in the work environment, to determine if a mutually beneficial regular employment relationship makes sense, said Lisa Frame, managing director of the Minneapolis branch of Kelly Law Registry, a direct hire, contract-to-hire consulting firm.

In order to position yourself for success in these positions, candidates on assignment should demonstrate the same excellent work ethic as a regular, full-time top performer.

"Do not use your contract/temporary status to work a schedule other than what the client has requested," said Frame. "Even though you are not full-time, they are counting on you and paying for you to be there to meet their business need."

In addition, don't hound the client about hiring you on full-time, no matter how much you would love to work there. Remind them of your interest at the start of the assignment, and perhaps during monthly feedback discussions. However, asking too much about this can make it uncomfortable for the client and you are there to provide a service to them, not to add to their work.

If one assignment does not turn into full-time and it ends, finish the assignment with the same degree of commitment and professionalism. Clients will often ask for top performers to come back again, and if their needs change, they won't forget you if you made a positive mark. Then the success story can end with a future job or a referral for a future job with one of their connections, said Frame.

"While working on a contract-to-hire basis, you are continuing to make yourself more employable as you gain new skills and experience," said Jackie Engmark, executive director of the Minnesota Recruiting & Staffing Association ( "Be sure to add these items to your résumé highlighting specific accomplishments and successes during your time with the company."

Keep in mind, said Engmark, that the company has invested time and possibly money in training you to this point. It's in their best interest to maximize that investment by hiring you on a permanent basis.

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