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Finding a Win-Win

Q. I took a 6 month temporary job to keep looking for a full-time job that I felt would be a good fit. I didn't want to jump in to any full-time permanent job and end up disliking it. If I receive a full-time employment offer before the 6 months are over and would like to accept it would it be possible to maintain a good relationship with the temp agency if I give them proper notice (2 weeks)? At the temp job, I could train a person to take my place in one or two days. I would like to look after myself but also want to maintain a good working relationship. I do understand that I would probably burn a bridge with the temp agency's client. What is your view?

A. You are demonstrating very professional concerns, which will serve you well over the long term. You recognize the value of working hard to keep your word, maintaining relationships, honoring commitments you have made, and looking for win-win alternatives where a win-lose may happen.

These behaviors are of great value to employers in many situations, and clearly in contract or temporary roles. When you interviewed for the temp role, you saw the "trade". You wanted a role that would give you flexibility and the opportunity to continue to look for the right match in a permanent job. The company wanted a good performer, and someone who would commit for 6 months so they wouldn't have to train someone else, and could minimize disruption within the organization.

If you find the right job before your contract is up, there are a few ways to deal with the situation. If there was a short time left on your contract, you could ask your new employer for a delayed start date - perhaps three weeks, but not much more, would typically be acceptable for a new employer.

You can approach the temporary agency and explain the circumstances. This will not be the first time they have dealt with this situation. Though they may be disappointed, your willingness to have a candid conversation about your plans and the ways you can help support the agency’s maintenance of a good client relationship, will work in your favor. Some people choose to leave immediately with no notice provided, or they tell the company whose site they are at, instead of honoring the relationship between the agency and the customer account. These actions leave the agency in a difficult position, and start the bridge burning.

Your long term career is key, as well as your intentions. Employers value employees who understand mutuality in the employment agreement. And the reverse is true.

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