Pick me, pick me!
November 4, 2010 5:04 AM   Subscribe

How do I improve my chances of staying at a temp job?

I work in a lab. The work we do is largely seasonal, and I'm one of the temp workers hired for rush season, which is ending...in the next few weeks.

In a meeting today, it was announced that with the impending downtime, the temps hired will eventually be cut...mostly. There are a few permanent positions that, once accounted for and confirmed, will have postings, in which all staff (temps or permanents) who are interested are welcome to apply for.

So far, everyone seems all hard workers, all get along, no slackers, etc. So the obvious weeding out of idiots who do no work, or everyone else hates, doesn't apply.

I have had feedback from several other coworkers (permanent and temps) that I do a very good job (and they think I'll be kept as a permanent). Sadly, other than a 'good job' kudo from my manager at my learning speeds two weeks after I got here, I haven't yet heard any direct feedback about what management thinks I'm like. I suspect they like me, but question is whether they like me enough... I have put in a considerable amount of hours here during the crazy rush (so, basically, not ditching my things halfway for the night shift to pick up; I finish as much as I can). However, this is not a very difficult job (although I do possess far more experience than a random temp at this business, the stuff that I've been doing so far isn't terribly difficult to learn...it's a very routine job). Of course, the permanent positions being opened can be for simpler jobs like mine or higher up the chain, so that adds a level of the unknown... I have been starting to get cross-trained into a few other tasks, but at least for my current position at this point in time, I'm easily replaced. (I think.)

Given that, what can I do to best maximize my chances of being kept?

Bonus Questions:

1. I have enough experience at my current level to probably try for one step higher on the chain (as in, one level above my current position), given proper training after hire. However, since I do not have (much) direct experience with the one-step-higher positions, assuming they're even available, should I bother trying for them? Or should I just mass-apply for everything at roughly my current job's level of difficulty, try to get my foot in the door, and then worry about advancement later?

2. Can some helpful soul tell me what kind of process this would be? I originally thought management would just tap some shoulders some random day and go 'hey, would you be interested in staying permanently?'; I didn't expect a formal application process. Does this mean once the postings go up, it's the whole resume/cover letter rigmarole all over again? *wince* How formal/not formal am I looking at here?

3. I'm on a 'good morning!' basis with everyone (even my somewhat cold-fish direct supervisor) and work-friends (hopefully transitioning soon into 'friends' without qualifiers) with a few others. Some of said friends are permanents, others are temps who may or may not (likely the former) be competing with me for whatever job gets posted. Do I start keeping cards close to my chest (and if so, how?), or just keep on being open and frank like I always have?

Any other random advice for me? Pay negotiations? Dress code? (We don't have one, everyone including management runs around in jeans all the time, but if looking nicer helps...) I'd like to note that in discussions with work-friends, at least two gets higher pay than me, even though I have better credentials/experience than at least one of them. So while I'd be pretty happy if I can just stay as permanent where I am, it'd be even better if I can really stress to management that I am awesome and can be crosstrained more places and generally kept around (hopefully for more money).

Anonymous in fear of the very slim chance that any of my bosses are on MeFi.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I would not recommend telling your colleagues of your plans. When the business world plays musical chairs, it can get rather vicious when the music stops.

If the pool of candidates management has to consider has several people who have the experience in the one-step-higher positions, I would rate your chances of getting them as rather slim. It's less risk to take someone who already has experience in the job. The only mitigating factor might be if those candidates all have tens of years doing the same thing and if management favors "new blood" over "greybeards". [Of course, if you are in the U.S. with our age discrimination laws, you will never be told this. And, if your firm is any size at all, you can be darn sure that management, HR, and legal have the process all wired up so that it is legal. But, nonetheless, age discrimination does occur and if you're younger than most of your colleagues, you may benefit from it.]

With regards to the process, I would think that's a straightforward question to ask your supervisor. It will depend on your workplace, and he/she is the best source of information.
posted by elmay at 5:24 AM on November 4, 2010

Whether or not the transition from temp to permanent involves a formal job (re)application totally depends on the managers, and how they like to run things. You should polish up your resume just in case. Also, if you've got any positive feedback from your coworkers or managers in writing, you should collect it - even just an email saying "thanks for picking up the slack yesterday"

It is totally reasonable to find time for a 5-minute meeting with the boss and tell him/her "I like this job and I'm really excited about the possibility of staying on here" and to ask whether you should be preparing a new resume for a formal application, or if it's all handled internally.

While you shouldn't broadcast all your hopes and dreams to your coworkers, it would be polite to tell them "hey I found out we will/won't need a new resume when they're finding people for permanent positions." That's my opinion, anyway.
posted by aimedwander at 6:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It never hurts to bring baked goods.


In the temp jobs that I've been in, it seems to make a major difference.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:22 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you do apply for one of the positions, and you make it to the interview stage, my advice would be to treat it as seriously as you would any interview. Don't assume you're "in" because they like you or whatever. I mention it because we just did a round of hiring from a pool of contract employees, and interview performance was a critical decision point.
posted by cabingirl at 8:39 AM on November 4, 2010

"I didn't expect a formal application process. Does this mean once the postings go up, it's the whole resume/cover letter rigmarole all over again? *wince* How formal/not formal am I looking at here?"

Probably the same as if you were interviewing for a regular job anyway. Most places will make you go through the whole process as if you were a new potential hire due to regulations. Yes, go formal. Same old resume and cover letter, but emphasizing that you've already worked in this job and know how to do everything in it. Reiterate that in the job interview as well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:44 PM on November 4, 2010

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