Q. I've been a temp for a large non-profit organization for nearly 2 years. I have been promised a permanent position for the past 18 months, however the organization always comes up with a last minute excuse to why they can't hire me. I know times are tough with the economy, but this company lifted their hiring freeze about 6 months ago, and will be giving bonuses next month. I have recently been told that a position has been approved, but it is "with HR" while they create a title and grade. I've now been told that the potential hiring date may not be for another 3 months. I realize that I'm only a temp, but I've been here longer than some permanent employees.
A. Temporary positions can offer some great opportunities for people trying out different roles, or different industries. These roles are also very beneficial for employers. When the economy is rapidly changing, to cover peaks and valleys of work, or to cover employee leaves or absences, companies call on temporary workers. Some people take temp contracts on their own, while others work for temporary or contract agencies.
The good news is it seems clear that the non-profit organization needs the skills you have for the work that you do, and they value your performance. If these two points were not accurate, the role would have been eliminated and/or you would have not been given positive signals about an imminent offer.
What is hard to determine, is how the economic situation has impacted the organization and how it continues to do so which is when most organizations are slow to add staff.
Your organization is exhibiting signs of recovery. The end of a hiring freeze typically indicates a greater need for staff and an improved cash flow. The plans to offer bonuses also show a commitment to staff and an improved cash flow. Can you see a theme? The cash flow plays a significant issue as an organization makes a decision whether or not to add to "permanent" head count.
Many temps find it frustrating to try and asses their status. If you believe your manager, human resources and the organization are acting in good faith regarding changing your role to a permanent position, you can continue to stay close to the process. Meet with your manager to make sure there are no performance issues. Make sure your frustration doesn't show. The manager may be just as frustrated and your goal is to be part of the solution, not the problem.
You can also continue conversations with human resources so that you understand what they need to do as they create the job description, title, pay grade and benefits package for the role, and which circumstances might cause any additional delays. The change probably comes with the addition of health care and other benefits which is an added cost to the employer, which can also slow the decision to add to head count.
If you do not believe your employer is acting in good faith in their discussions about moving you into a permanent position you may decide to leave the temping to others and accept only full time offers that provide all you are looking for.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
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