As the economy improves, many employers are staffing up again, sometimes on a temp-to-hire basis. So is this good for employees, or just another way to work like a full-timer, without a full-timer’s benefits?
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“Companies … [have] used temporary [workers] and the temp-to-hire approach quite a bit,” says Ryan Skubis, South Florida district president for Robert Half International, in an interview with the Florida Sun Sentinel.
Employers like temp-to-hire for obvious reasons: it cuts down on benefit costs, allows them to try out a worker to see if he or she is a good fit, and offers time to figure out if a full-time hire is warranted. Workers have reasons to like the arrangement, too, but it’s not without its downsides.
1. Time to figure out if you like the job.
Anyone who’s ever had a stellar interview and then disliked the job later knows that you can’t always tell whether you’ll like a job until you’re doing it. You can research the employer until the cows come home, but nothing guarantees a good fit. Temp jobs allow you to try the gig on for size, before you commit.
Temp jobs in your field are good stop-gaps for a resume that might otherwise look like a piece of Swiss cheese. Plus, you might get a chance to develop new skills, while keeping your existing skills honed.
Those unemployment checks only cover so much.
1. You’re on probation.
It’s hard to feel comfy in a job when you know, flat-out, that you’re there on a trial basis. The old adage is true: If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working hard enough. However, when you’re making mistakes in your temporary job, you’re liable to wind up pretty panicky. That sense of “one false move, and…” isn’t exactly the greatest environment for creativity.
2. You probably won’t get health benefits.
Employers love temp-to-hire for this reason, but if you’re shelling out for COBRA or private health insurance, you likely won’t feel the same way.
3. You could wind up making less if you get hired.
Quick: what’s your day rate? If you’re not an experienced contractor, you probably don’t know. And if you don’t prepare ahead of time, you might name a figure that’s significantly lower than it should be, given what your former employers shelled out for benefits and social security, etc.
Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing offers a good formula for calculating your rates, even for folks who aren’t in the writing business:
- Analyze all the components of your full-time job pay package.
- Calculate all the items you have to pay for as a freelancer that you didn’t as a staffer.
The later should include every single thing your company paid for, from healthcare to sick time to FLMA leave to per diems. Forgetting to add that in will cost you in the short run, and again in the long run when you (hopefully) negotiate your full-time pay.
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