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5 Steps to Making Temp-to-Hire Work for You

According to CareerBuilder, 46 percent of employers plan to hire temps or contract workers in 2015, up from 42 percent last year. Of these employers, 56 percent plan to transition some temporary or contract workers into full-time, permanent roles. With unemployment at an all-time low, it’s important to form solid relationships with temp agencies and to be aware of any red flags that will turn away great employees.

We asked Chrystal Long, The HT Group recruiter and expert in temp-to-hire, to help us compile five steps to making temp-to-hire work for you.

  1. Understand the smaller candidate pool: In a more employer-driven market, candidates could be wooed away from less-than-ideal permanent positions with the promise of better opportunities at a highly sought-after company. But attracting employed candidates to a temp position nowadays simply doesn’t happen that often. There are many more available jobs and fewer candidates “desperate” for work. In Computerworld’s 2015 IT Salary Survey, 43 percent of IT managers expect to increase their headcount this year. The problem? Only 9 percent of IT employees said they’re actively looking for a new position at a different employer. So, to find an ideal candidate and convince them to work for you—particularly on a temp-to-hire basis—requires working with temp agencies who understand the specific entry points that will win them over.  Finding the right candidate for a temp-to-hire opportunity may take longer; however, the “try before buy” approach gives the employer flexibility not found when hiring candidates directly.
  2. Put your best face forward: In today’s job market, potential employees are picky. You need to put your best foot forward during the temp-to-hire period. Just as the position is seen as a trial run for the employer, the temp may also be “testing the waters” and will certainly pass up a permanent offer if they aren’t impressed while temping or contracting. That means your company culture must be in line. Your brand must be respected. And, certainly, you must treat your temps and contractors with respect—or you may lose them to other opportunities
  3. Pay more: This point is more pronounced the further up on the pay scale you look. For workers making less than $50,000 in finance and real estate, for instance, wages fell last quarter, while their colleagues in the $75,000 and above category enjoyed a 3.4 percent rise in wages, according to payroll processing firm ADP. In the 2015 Computerworld survey referenced earlier, 60 percent of IT workers (who routinely take on contract positions) said they’re switching jobs for higher compensation while 74 percent of all respondents (not just those looking for jobs) said a salary increase would most influence them to change jobs, making it the leading reason by far. Many times, the quality of the candidate is directly related to the competitiveness of pay.
  4. Loosen requirements: Even with the candidate pool drying up, some employers are increasing their requirements such as degrees and certifications, which may present an excellent opportunity to open-minded hiring managers. According to CareerBuilder forecasting, 28 percent of companies say they’re now hiring more employees with master’s degrees for positions that historically had been held by workers with four-year degrees, while 37 percent are now hiring workers with college degrees for those roles that had been primarily held by employees with high school diplomas. To attract a different pool of talent, consider whether your temp-to-hire positions could be tailor-made for those who have the potential for professional development, but were passed up on other jobs because they do not have the degree or certification already in hand.
  5. Stay true to your word: Temp-to-hire arrangements are usually for a period of 90 days. Or, if it’s a skilled tech position, the arrangement may be for a certain project. If you don’t intend to make a hiring decision within that timeframe (or whichever timeframe or scope was agreed upon), don’t expect great candidates or temp agencies to play along. The current job market will not tolerate that sort of pattern of behavior.

Here’s an idea: If you are interested in hiring a temp staffer permanently, don’t wait until the contract is up. Make them an offer as soon as you determine that they are a great fit for the job and your company. Smart temp-to-hire candidates use that grace period to network, build new connections and interview elsewhere, so the quicker you can turn a temp into a permanent employee, the better chances you have in keeping them.   Most temp agencies will allow you to “buy out” a temp’s contract at any time.

What’s your “secret sauce” when it comes to making temp-to-hire work? Have you seen those strategies change as the job market heats up?


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