Turn a Project Position Into a Full-Time Role

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Full-time hiring may be improving, but there’s little question temporary hiring is steadily picking up. Many companies cut too deeply during the downturn and are now finding themselves short staffed as customer demand increases. As a result, they are turning to project workers for flexibility, keeping staff levels fluid until demand proves to be long-term in nature.

This is good news for IT professionals. Project roles often can lead to full-time opportunities. Seventy-three percent of CIOs recently interviewed by Robert Half Technology said it helps to bring in prospective employees on a project or contract basis as a means of evaluating them for full-time employment.

Here are some suggestions for turning a temporary position into a full-time job:

Register with a staffing firm. Instead of looking for project work on your own, get some support. Staffing firms have contacts throughout the IT community and often know about openings that may not be published on job boards. It’s free to register with these services, and when you do, you can effectively double your reach during the job search.

Pick the right advocate. It’s important to register with a staffing firm that specializes in placing technology professionals because its employees will have stronger connections with IT hiring managers and be able to speak more effectively to potential employers about your specific skill set. In addition, by taking advantage of the free training opportunities that most staffing firms offer, you can develop new skills and increase the types of assignments you might be eligible for.

Be upfront. When you register with a staffing firm, let your contact know from the start that you would eventually like to secure a full-time position. This allows the recruiter the opportunity to choose a position that has a stronger likelihood of leading to that result.

Take a long-term view. Whether you’re working on a two-week assignment at the help desk or leading a team of programmers for six months, it’s important to approach an interim position as if it were full time. Work hard and keep a positive attitude. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your manager for feedback on your performance and if there are areas in which you could improve. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate an interest in making the largest impact possible during your tenure with the company.

Follow office protocol. There are written and unwritten rules within every company; make sure you understand both. Fitting in at your new employer can help you make a positive impression on your manager, establish stronger relationships with co-workers and enhance your on-the-job satisfaction. People don’t expect you to understand every aspect of the corporate culture immediately, but they do assume that you will eventually. A smart way to learn the ropes is to observe managers or top performers and follow their lead because the way they do their jobs has a lot to do with why they advanced to the positions they currently hold.

Be an active participant. Make a point to be as involved as possible. During meetings, let your voice be heard, whether by asking questions or providing suggestions. If you have the flexibility to do so, volunteer to help colleagues in your department or other areas of the company. In addition, make an effort to build relationships with individuals throughout the organization. Not only could their support come in handy on the job, but these individuals also will be part of your professional network and may even serve as valuable employment references. Say hello to those you pass in the hall, take part in office celebrations and events and consider inviting people with whom you work to lunch or coffee to get to know them better.

Even if a project position does not lead to a full-time opportunity, remember that temporary work can be extremely beneficial to your career. An interim assignment can allow you to get your foot in the door with a particular company and showcase your talents so you are top of mind if a full-time opportunity opens up in the future. At the same time, project work allows you to build new skills, try out different types of assignments and work for a variety of companies to not only boost your marketability but also determine which direction you want your career to head.

Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. He can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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