Going from Temp to Perm: A True Story of Getting Hired

By Tiffany Miller

For unemployed folks continuing to struggle with the search for a full-time job, a temp position might be the best answer.

Employers hired 52,000 temp workers in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - the fourth consecutive month of gains.

That's great news for people willing to treat a temp job as an extended interview, according to Deborah Brown-Volkman. President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc., a career coaching company.

Be friendly with a take-charge attitude

"If a company has a temporary position they have that job for a reason. They have a need," she said. "Your job is to understand what the company is going through. Why should I continue and why should they pay me to continue?"

Brown-Volkman said the first step is meeting as many people as possible.

"Just being nice to people is enough to build relationships," she said.

Maybe even more important, is being proactive. Most temp workers are hired for a specific task, sitting silently when that task is finished to try and prolong a paycheck.

That's the wrong idea, according to Brown-Volkman. She suggests letting your supervisor know when you're finished and always asking for additional work.

"With a part-time or temp job there's a beginning, middle and end. Ask, 'What's next for me? I think I can do more,'" she said.

Real life full-time

That can-do attitude is exactly how Keri Weidner earned her full-time position at the Whirlpool Headquarters in Benton Harbor, Mich.

Weidner was placed at Whirlpool while working with the temp agency Manpower Inc. And while she didn't seek out Whirlpool, she decided as soon as she got there that she'd like to earn a permanent job.

It took a year before the job turned full-time. The company was laying off the temps in Weidner's department, so her boss convinced a manager in another department to take her on full-time.

"There's always free time. I was always asking my supervisor, 'Is there something else you can do?' I never wanted to sit around and be bored," she says.

It's been nine years since Weidner was promoted to full-time. She's now back in the same department she started as the Senior Trade Partner Support, coordinating all Whirlpool contact with stores like Lowe's and Home Depot.

She said the best part of her promotion was the security and knowing she wasn't going to be laid off. The full-time job also came with the major benefit of paying for her education. Weidner started at Whirlpool three months after her high school graduation. The company paid for her to earn her associate's degree in business from Lake Michigan College.

Brown-Volkman said many temp workers could end up like Weidner; they just need to be aware that the temp position is really a try-out for a full-time gig.

"Meet people. There has to be a mental shift. I will work here. It isn't just a part-time gig. It's going to lead me somewhere. That's the first tip," she said.

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