July 17, 2013 – Even with hiring up over last year, the number of new full-time jobs being created continues to lag behind. Getting hired full-time may increasingly be turning into a two-step process: Get on board first as a part-time or contract worker and then try to convert this into a full-time job, according to OI Partners.

While 195,000 new jobs were created in June, the number of people working part-time who want full-time work rose by 322,000 to a total of 8.2 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A growing number of employers prefer to hire workers on a part-time or contract basis before deciding whether to hire them full-time. One of the reasons is the new health care law. Starting in 2015, employers of more than 50 employees who work 30 hours per week and over will have to provide them with health insurance or pay a penalty.

Also, many people are now changing careers and going back to school to switch to fields that have been expanding, such as health care and technology.

How successful people are in converting part-time or contract positions into full-time jobs depends on their skill in navigating the transition. “But, be aware that there are often no guarantees and no promises that part-time or contract workers will be hired full-time even if suitable openings arise during the period they are working,” said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners, a leading global coaching and leadership development and consulting firm.

“For unemployed people, a part-time or contract assignment can possibly detract from a regular job search and create false hope about a full-time job. So, be careful about stopping or putting your search on hold,” Prosser added.

OI Partners offers the following advice to people hoping to turn contract or part-time jobs into full-time employment:

  1. Concentrate on fields where your skills and experience will distinguish you as a valuable contract or part-time addition. “Don’t present yourself as a jack of all trades, but as a specialist who can help companies achieve their objectives,” said Prosser.
  2. Take steps to differentiate yourself and stand out. Assemble a portfolio showcasing your talents and experience within the same industry or the same type of business. Offer recommendations on how to improve sales, marketing, productivity, quality, management – whatever your field of expertise.
  3. Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your contract period or while working part-time. Have this spelled out and don’t take it for granted.
  4. Act as if you already are a full-time employee. “Demonstrate by your dedication, problem-solving and people skills that you are a committed member of the team and not a short-timer. The employer may begin to see you that way,” added Prosser.
  5. Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you. Learn the criteria that are used to evaluate performance and continually endeavor to impress. Strive to exceed your goals without your co-workers feeling you are not a team player.
  6. Be positive and upbeat about your commitment to the company. “Don’t go around the workplace thinking of yourself as ‘only a contractor,’ and never display a negative attitude,” said Prosser.
  7. Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. Keep in contact with people who recruit for the company, as well as employees in other departments. Ask to be invited to or sit in on staff meetings.
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