Temp Job or Audition?

Glass half full or half empty?  This question is used when evaluating a scenario(one having equal upside/downside) as being positive or negative.  While the catch is both answers are correct, the approach one takes to the scenario is influential on the eventual outcome.

Let’s look at temporary assignments with companies.  More firms are using temporary placements for two main reasons.  First, they are hedging their employment exposure against a double dip recession.  It is easier to eliminate a temporary worker than a full-time employee with benefits.  Second, employers are using temporary assignments as a vetting process for possible full-time employees.  Instead of reading a resume, having a couple of interviews, and hoping one hires a good employee, firms are conducting a ‘test drive’ of sorts with employees.  Bring someone on for a 2-3 week assignment and see interactions within the office; evaluate the candidate’s abilities on the job; ensure the candidate is the best ‘fit’ possible before making the full-time commitment.

Is the temporary job a 2-3 week stint that helps you put some cash in your pocket or is it a chance at a full-time job.  Half full or half empty? The answer, both.

Temporary Job

This is a temp job, call it what it is, and there are no guarantees. Thus one has to continue to network, apply for openings, interview, and conduct a full job search.  You may do your very best, impress everyone in the office, go above and beyond the job description and still be shown the door at the end of the assignment.  No hard feelings, you knew the job was temporary when you accepted it.


This is an opportunity for you to shine if you approach the temporary job as an audition with the employer.  Best case scenario is the employer is impressed with your work and decides the company needs to bring you on full-time.  Worst case scenario if you try your best at the firm – you leave with great references, additional networking contacts, and more information on your resume.   Either scenario has a positive ending.

Additionally, if someone were to leave or if a spot were to open up at the firm in the near future, you would likely be considered as an ‘internal candidate’ as the employer will have direct knowledge of your work product.  Every hiring manager likes to hire a solid known candidate over an unknown option.

How to Impress

When working as a temporary employee, treat the job as if you were a new full-time hire.  Show up early and stay late if needed – if you watch the clock you will be sending a very strong, and negative, message to supervisors.  If you see areas where you can make a suggestion for improvement (for example: save money by eliminating duplication of efforts), make the suggestion in writing to your boss – just do it diplomatically and avoid throwing any person/department ‘under the bus’.  Participate in outside-the-office events in which you are invited (company picnics, lunch outings, softball league) but don’t try and force your way into these events.

Try and be a valuable employee and avoid bugging people about the possibility of the assignment being turned into a full-time position.  Be a stellar employee and if your current employer cannot bring you on full-time, the positive impression you made at the firm could lead to referrals and solid references that do help you land your next full-time job.

Half full or half empty – you decide how you want to approach the opportunity.


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Career Management, Job Search, Temp and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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