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Definition of Temp-to-Hire

Temp-to-hire is a working arrangement in which a worker is hired first on a temporary basis – usually through a temporary staffing agency – with the possibility of the position becoming full-time. It’s not a guaranteed full-time position and hinges on a few variables, such as how well the worker performs during the temporary arrangement and outside influences (such as economic fluctuations) that may lead businesses to reconsider their hiring plans.

How Temp-to-Hire Roles Work

Temp-to-hire assignments are typically longer-term temporary roles, often between three to six months, with the possibility of an extension or a permanent hire at the end of the temporary period.

A temp-to-hire arrangement is similar to a probationary period that a new hire often undergoes after accepting a job. The primary difference is that while in the temporary phase of the arrangement, the worker has a temporary status – meaning he/she is not eligible for the same benefits or perks as a full-time employee, such as paid vacation days and health insurance. The worker remains under contract with the staffing platform (or other temporary staffing solution) during the temporary period.

After the temporary period ends, workers become eligible for full-time employment. Often, companies simply transition roles from temporary to permanent at this time, filling out all the paperwork and handling other administrative tasks for a typical full-time hire. If a worker is hired or transitioned to a full-time role, their contract ends with the staffing agency or other intermediary and they formally become an employee of the company. If, on the other hand, the temporary role does not become permanent (the worker is not retained for a full-time role), they can continue to accept temporary assignments through their staffing agency.

In some cases, workers receive a raise when they transition from temp to full-time. When working on assignments through an agency, hourly rates and salaries are sometimes lower in order to cover the agency’s administrative fees and other costs. So, when a worker transitions from temporary to permanent, these fees are no longer applicable, sometimes resulting in a pay raise. This isn’t always the case, as those funds are sometimes reallocated to cover the benefits the employee becomes eligible for as a full-time staffer.

Benefits of Temp-to-Hire

Temp-to-hire roles benefit both workers and employers, giving employers the flexibility to experiment with new roles and determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a long-term role with the company while providing workers with a temporary role (and income) as well as a chance to prove their worth to a prospective employer, which could lead to full-time employment.

If a company hires a full-time employee for an experimental role and later determines that a full-time employee isn’t needed to meet the demands of the position, they may end up letting go or laying off a recently-hired employee. In a temp-to-hire arrangement, full-time employment isn’t a guarantee, giving companies the opportunity to determine if the role is needed and if the employee is a fit before offering full-time employment.

Temporary workers who take temp-to-hire positions even benefit from the arrangement if it doesn’t end up transitioning to a full-time role. Generally, the best-performing workers choose temp-to-hire roles, so a long-term temporary gig can be a valuable resume booster. And, workers often have chances to acquire new skills and learn new technologies in temporary roles, which can also be a boost for a full-time job search.

Best Practices for Temp-to-Hire

Best Practices for Employees

If you’ve landed a temp-to-hire role, there are a few best practices that boost the odds of securing a full-time position:

  • Treat it like a permanent role from the start. That means following the company dress code, showing up to work on time, and being diligent about performing every task with care.
  • Show your desire to learn. Be enthusiastic about learning new things and acquire as much knowledge as you can about the job and the company. If you demonstrate that you’re a quick starter, the company may think of other areas where you’d be a fit, even if the temporary role you’ve been assigned doesn’t pan out as permanent.
  • Build relationships with co-workers and superiors. Co-workers and managers are more likely to recommend that the company keep you on if you have a friendly demeanor and play nice with others. No one wants a nasty co-worker, so put your best face forward.
  • Take initiative. Be proactive about inquiring about other ways to contribute to your team’s or department’s goals. If you’ve finished your work and have a few hours left in the workday, be a resource to your team members and management. Demonstrating your value is one of the best ways to secure a full-time position.

Best Practices for Employers

If you’re an employer considering a temp-to-hire position to fill a vacant or emerging role in the company, there are a few best practices for success:

  • Hire with the idea that the role will become permanent. Instead of bringing on a candidate who merely fits the bill, look for the same skills and characteristics you’d look for in a typical hire. This increases the odds that the candidate will be a good long-term fit.
  • Work with a reputable staffing service. Choose a temporary staffing solution that has a top-notch candidate pool with workers who possess the skills and qualifications you need, as well as benefits such as easing the administrative burden, insured workers, and a thorough pre-screening process.
  • Assess both your needs and candidate fit. Once you’ve hired a temp-to-hire worker, use the temporary period to your advantage by assessing your needs (do you really need a full-time employee to handle the demands of this job?) as well as the candidate fit (does the worker mesh well with your existing team?). If you end up in a situation in which you’ve found the perfect candidate, but the role itself doesn’t warrant a full-time hire, look for other areas where the candidate may be a fit. Sometimes, a hybrid role can bridge the gap until you’re ready to dedicate a full-time employee to a specific function within the company.

Temp-to-hire can be the perfect arrangement for a variety of hiring scenarios, and they’re a win-win for both companies and workers. You wouldn’t buy a car before you test drive it, and temp-to-hire arrangements can increase the odds of finding that perfect fit.