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EP 1231 I speak about the problem with contract to hire or temp to perm assignments.

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I was meeting with a coaching client yesterday who I had helped land… I coached her into a job. I wasn’t the recruiter. I was the coach who supported her in her job search. The position she was working for really highlights the dilemma and the lie of contract to hire and temp to perm. Let me give you the scenario.

I want to preface this by saying sometimes it works out. But no one ever talks about the other times, the times where that the conversion doesn't happen. So I just want to kinda lay it out for you.

In her case, first, they talked with her about a full-time job and then, she arrived, and it was suddenly a contract to hire. Red flag number one. She had been out of work for a while, decided, “okay. Let me try it.”

“We are waiting for a new budget to go into effect. It will going to affect with the new year. There will be no problem converting you then.” I am paraphrasing, but you get the point.

So, as the contract is start to run out, they are going through the whole “We just have to get this approval. Yes, it's a go.”

“No, we can’t get this approval. We are going to try to work it a different way.”

They go back and forth with her five or six times over one aspect or another, and eventually it gets to a point where, I think, there are three of them were working on contracts there with the proviso of a hire at the backend. One of them comes to her and tells her “I don’t want you finding about this back channel but they are talking with me about a full-time position.”

Sometimes, you in a “bake-off situation” where you're competing with others except they are not telling you. Sometimes, they just can't get budget to bring you want to full time staff because, although it looks like less money that they are spending, it is coming from a different budget pocket. It’s kind of like, “we can only take it out our left pocket for full-time but if it's a contract we can take out the right pocket.” The result is a lot of people, this person certainly was burned by the experience, and no one ever talks about this dilemma. The emotional side of the roller coaster-- we can. We can’t. We can. We can’t. This person eventually got to the point of the “Screw its.” This is the will sort itself out. I don’t really care what they tell me because they don't know what they are talking about. I’m on this emotional roller coaster. It doesn't really work for me so if it's going to be what it will be, I’m going to do my do my best, and so be it.”

If you can’t handle that kind of scenario, contract to hire isn't for you because, often, it has little to do with the competence of the individual. Ultimately, may just come down to money or the contract they signed with the consulting firm that they have to pay out a certain amount of money to convert you on to full time staff with this firm when they can get the person for free.

I want to repeat because it is really important.

The consulting agency you work for has a contract with the potential employer, the firm that is bringing you on as a consultant. That contract may specify a conversion fee at the end of the assignment. So, if they hire you, they have to pay X number of thousands of dollars to that consulting firm. That has nothing to do with you. That has to do with a consulting firm wanting what it believes is its fair share. Frankly, I believe they do deserve additional money but some firms don't or they are working directly with the consultant who just wants to be on staff and there is no conversion fee in the deal. So, it's cheaper for them to pick one person over another.

You don't know that. You don't know whether there's a conversion fee as part of the deal. You just know that you are on this roller coaster and one day they say, “okay. That's it.” That’s really, that’s what happens. “Okay, that's it.”

If you can’t handle that possibility, this is not for you. If you can or if you have been out of work for a long time, it's okay. You have to take the gamble and don't consider this permanent. Don't seduce yourself or trick yourself into believing that this is anything more than a contract or temp assignment and that at the end you can be dismissed. .
Keep looking. Keep trying to find something else. Don't suddenly pull in your reigns and not explore other options because, at the end of the assignment, it can very readily be “adios.”


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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