Getting a ‘Foot in the Door’ in the Current Climate – Making that ‘Temp to Perm’ Decision

Josh Hawkins October 19, 20123 mins read

Given the current economic climate, a number of large organisations are having trouble gaining the required ‘sign off’ for permanent head count increases.

As a means to get around this restriction, there seems to be an increase in the number of ‘temporary to permanent’ positions - whereas after initially joining an organisation as a temporary worker, a permanent position may offered after a period of time.

As a candidate, the level of uncertainly that goes with these ‘temp to perm’ roles can make the decision to accept a difficult one to make. Here are a few points to consider when making that decision.

What is the reason for the role?

Throughout the interview process, ensure you get to the bottom of how the role has arisen. If the role is due to a maternity leave, internal secondment, increased workload over a busy period or to assist with project related activities, then the possibility of the role eventually moving to a permanent contract may be limited.

However, if the role has been newly created, they have had a recent leaver (and there are no internal candidates for the position) or they’re looking at building a new team or division, then there may well be a possibility there will be a real permanent opportunity.

Company Financials

Do your homework and research the financial state of the organisation - if they’re ASX listed this information will be found on their company websites. Obviously if they’re in financial trouble and making huge loses, then you’ll want to be careful about joining on a temp basis and expecting a permanent role in the short to medium term. If they’re a profitable organisation the decision is easier.

Ask about upcoming restructures or head office relocations

Often temporary roles can arise due to uncertainty with regards to upcoming restructures, cost cutting or offices relocations - rather than simply permanent head count freezes. You want to understand how these changes are going to affect you and the position you’re interviewing for.

What do you need to achieve to gain the permanent role?

Once you’re sure a true permanent role exists, then try to get a solid understanding of what you, or the organisation, need to achieve in order for this to be offered. Whether it be based on individual performance, internal promotions creating opportunity, your team or division hitting their budget or simply a matter being in the temporary role for 6 months, you’ll feel more comfortable accepting a temp to perm offer knowing what needs to happen for it to become permanent.

Prove your worth

Treat the initial temporary assignment as a probation period whereas management will likely to be assessing your technical and cultural fit to the business. Once you’ve proven yourself as a highly valuable asset to the team, then a truly commercial business is going to do their best to retain you on a permanent basis. This temporary assignment is also a good stage for you to be assessing whether it’s a company or team you want to commit to for the long-term.

If you’ve done your research and asked the right questions then joining a organisation on a ‘temp to perm’ basis may turn out to be a great ‘foot in the door’ and a risk well worth taking – especially if it results in your landing that dream job with your ideal employer! 


Josh Hawkins's picture
Associate Manager | Accounting & Finance - Commerce & Industry (Contract)