how can I get my temp job to hire me on permanently?

Two questions, one answer. The first reader writes:

I have been temping for a while and a few months ago landed a temp-to-perm gig at a financial services firm. I love the job and my coworkers and couldn’t be happier. The pay is ok – tough for living in New York, but I scrape by.

The problem is, I’ve been living with a health problem and the whole not having insurance thing is a large issue. My parents are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy so there’s no chance of finding help there. I have no siblings, and am not close with other members of my family (who have any money to spare, that is). I need insurance – preferably through a job, and soon.

I am certain my company wants to hire me – my managers have assured me so, and if I even briefly mention “going to Oklahoma” the head guy on the floor thinks I mean that I’m moving there (it was just a comment about visiting) and freaks out. But I can’t wait forever, and it’s really important to me that I get this health issue dealt with. I would love to stay at this company, as it’s a wonderful fit for me, and I’ve already had the head admin on the floor push for me a couple times now. How would you suggest I broach the subject of being hired on, or at least of getting a target date? I’d prefer not to get strung along for a year or more only to find out they have no intention of hiring me, no matter how much they like me.

And the second reader writes:

I’ve been working for a company in a temporary position for 7 months. I was initially hired for an entry-level position, then after 2 1/2 months was promoted, with a pay raise, to a different position working for a department VP. I have much more responsibility, lots of projects, I’ve been given a lot of freedom to set my own schedule and even do a lot of work from home.

I really do love this job and I think I bring a lot of good qualities to the company. I’m cross-trained for a few different functions and have been providing quick results on the assigned projects.

My question is this: How can I ask if they ever intend to hire me directly? The terms of the staffing agency stated that the company couldn’t hire me directly without penalty for 180 days after the assignment began. I’m now past that. I keep trying to find different ways to make myself indispensable, but being a temp makes me jumpy. Is there anything I can do besides express my interest and enthusiasm?

You guys both need to sit down and have candid conversations with your managers. Be direct. You want to say something like this: “I really love working here, and I’d really like to move into a regular staff position. But at the same time, if that’s not likely to happen any time soon, I’d rather know that. Can you give me a candid assessment of how likely that is to happen so that my expectations are realistic?”

If you get vague platitudes about how they’d like to do it at some point, just hang in there, etc., then get more direct: “What needs to happen for me to move into a regular position? What is the timeline for that, and what are the next steps we could take?”

And, if you’re willing to attach consequences to this, you can also add: “I want to reiterate that I love working here and staying here would be my first choice. But I need to look at other options if we don’t have a path or a timeline for that, so I’m hoping to get a clear answer from you — if not today, then very soon.” But obviously, by throwing that out there, you risk them telling you to go ahead and look at other options … but that’s also an answer that will be useful to hear. (Letter-writer #1, this part applies more to you; letter-writer #2 seems more willing to stay a temp for now, whereas you have a pressing need to either go perm or move on.)

Also, letter-writer #1, it might be worth explicitly tell them that the issue is about insurance. It’s possible that they’re unwilling to make your position permanent right now, but that they’d be willing to give you health insurance if that would keep you. It’s worth raising.

Good luck!

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Move to Massachusetts. We've got the best health insurance in the country up here. It is illegal for an employer to have a temp or contractor for more than 6 months. Mostly due in part to health insurance not being covered if ur a temp or contractor. Pre-existing conditions cannot be denied by an insurer, and almost ALL employers must offer health insurance to their full-time staff. If not, you qualify for some discount thing through the state.

    1. Joe*

      you are mistaken. I am a resident of massachusetts and i am typing this to you from my temp job that i have worked at for 15 months. there is no s uch law.

      1. Chris*

        Also a resident of Massachusetts. One of my co-workers in my department has been at the same temp position for 3 years. They work around health insurance by having the temp agency offer it to you but it is expensive. Honestly through my experience most people get strung along in temp positions. One of my other co-workers was hired but only after 2 years of temp work. Who can wait that long? It annoys me that another department of where I work might hire me but the Temp agency makes money off me when it wasn’t them who got me this interview.

  2. Anonymous*

    In this economy, the answer is probably that the manager has had a hiring freeze imposed from above and doesn't know when it might be lifted. They won't give you a direct answer because they don't know. Companies hire temps for 2 reasons: 1) It's a short term project, or 2) They can't add to headcount but they have budget for temps. Sounds like the readers are in boat #2.

    I'd have that frank conversation, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get a non-answer answer. Go find another job that fits your needs, and then give your current company the opportunity to save you. Unfortunately again, in this economy it takes this level of escalation for a middle manager to be able to go up the chain with the need for a save.

    And ask yourself if you really want to make a career at a company that can't make simple decisions about retaining the best employees.

  3. Charles*

    To add my two-cents worth – yes, by all means ask them directly what the timeline is for going perm – but, have your resume ready.

    If it has been more than 6 months and they haven't given you a timeline then they are more likely not going to.

    Bringing up the issue might just be the catalyst for them making the decision to replace you with another temp who would not make such "demands."

    But, at least you know where you stand and can use this knowledge in your decisions if you find other employment opportunities.

    Also, I would not advocate AAM's advice of asking about the insurance w/o the other benefits; most organizations that I have worked for/with have strict rules about only giving any benefits, especially health insurance, to fulltime permanent employees – never to part-time or temp employees. Sometimes this is because the contract with their healthcare provider stipulates that it is only for fulltime, permanent employees – they cannot get around this not matter how badly they want to. Even if the contract would allow this, they are setting themselves up for a lawsuit if they give healthcare to one temp but not others.

    Lastly, bringing up the insurance issue could raise some red flags and cause them to not consider you for permanent status. Unethical? yes, but it happens.

  4. Laura Y.*

    They might also be willing to give letter writer #1 a pay increase that would cover the cost of independent health insurance. My first job in NYC was what we called "fulltime freelance," which essentially had all of the drawbacks of both types of employment and none of the benefits of either, so no health insurance. I was able to negotiate a higher pay rate by letting them know that I would be needing to provide my own health insurance.

  5. Anonymous*

    Granted, there can be differences with temporary agency company policy, however, based on my understanding, the OPs cannot have this conversation with the client (supervisor on site). The conversation needs to be with their Recruiter/Staffing Support Specialist at the temporary agencies. In turn, the temporary agency representatives communicate the concerns with the client. Having this conversation with the client site supervisor might be a cause of termination for the OPs. After all, they are both officially employees of the Temporary Agencies.

    By chance this is not the policy of the applicable agencies, then AAM's advice is, as usual, perfect! :D

    1. Kevin*

      This comment would seem to make the most sense (ie have the recruiter agency do the talking on the temp’s behalf). But here is the problem, the recruiter is usually taking a 30-40% cut of every dollar the temp is making, so this fact makes it not in the best interest of the recruiting house to do so. Unless there is some conversion bonus the recruiter gets, expect very little incentive for them to goto bat for you.

      1. Jamie*

        There is usually a conversion bonus, though.

        You’re correct in the mark-up percentages, it’s averaged about 35% in my area (and I’m familiar with this both from temping years ago and hiring temps) which has stayed the same for the last 10 years or so. But they generally get the same or slightly larger cut when their temps go direct.

        So if you go from permanent to direct hire at a starting salary of say 35K a 35% commission is $12,250. And they aren’t really losing the weekly mark-up because there are always other temps on deck that they can send in as needed. If a company wants a direct hire, they aren’t going to keep a temp on indefinitely – they could just bypass the agency and post it themselves…so there is an incentive for them to help you cut a deal.

        Again – it may work differently elsewhere, but this is typical in my industry.

  6. StaffingStarr*

    I agree with the above comment… Approaching the Client Manager/Supervisor can be seen as "too aggressive and confrontational". The temporary employee is also placing the manager in an uncomfortable situation, which is the reason companies hire temps. They don't want to deal with the financial or emotional commitment involved with employee relations. The best advice, is to work through the recruiter that placed the temporary there.

  7. heather*

    i came across this thread that so closely applies to me. just hope i get a response since this was a half year ago.

    i’ve been a temp since april 2010 in a ‘manager’ capacity–my title has ‘manager’ in it. it’s through an agency and was told it was long-term. of course, i figured it could lead to perm. it’s just the type of position that is still within my industry and on my experience level. i have the same workload as perm staff, but with no perks. i do enjoy working there and find the rapport with my dept. pleasant. the co. recently acquired another, so the workload increased and it will remain this way for quite some time.

    after a few months, i approached my recruiter to inquire about if the co. intends to keep me on–i’m a worry wart. it was initially tooted as 3 months, maybe to the end of the year. this prompted my manager at the co. to meet with me to ask how i liked it, told me i was doing a fine job, and that they brought me in with the intention of hiring a perm person, BUT are waiting for a position to be budgeted. so, i left optimistic and felt that they did intend to hire me. a month later the co. merged. i followed up on our conversation and was told that ‘for now’ they’ll have to keep me as temp. my manager is under the director of the dept. she’s told me that she has constantly brought me up to get me hired, but it’s budgetary constraints. i believed it then, but it’s been 8 months that i’ve been with this co. and it’s obvious that they need a perm person. they’re even looking for another ‘temp’ to help with the workload. i’m frustrated! i’m starting to take this personally. i know there’s a ‘buy out’ fee, but really, they got me at a bargain rate. i make about $8000 less than what a perm person would get paid in NYC, and many make more than $8000 more in this industry.

    what should i do? i’ve been thinking of ‘gently’ bringing-up this topic again to see where i stand. i definitely deserve more money. i haven’t heard any complaints about me, in fact, even someone at the recent holiday party told me that i’m very good at what i do, someone NOT in my dept. so, i’m recognized as an asset to many people there. also, another temp that’s been there for over a year asked the new CEO if they plan on hiring temps (gutsy! good for him). my big manager of course, responded, ‘yes, if a position becomes open.’ she said this after the CEO, said ‘sure, let’s get them on!’.

    so, should i go to my immediate manger with whom i spoke with back in august, or to the director? what do i say?

    i have been looking for perm positions, but it’s still very tough out there. i have no other employment options, so i’m stuck as a ‘temp’ who is in every way like staff.


  8. Anonymous*

    i have been temping for several different roles in sydney australia for over 2 years, they like my work but wont make me permanent? what shall i do ? leave? go on holidays? forget working ever again?

  9. Sky*

    Hello. I recently decided to accept a temp job to replace my current regular full time employment. My long commute of 300 + miles per week has cost me too much after nearly 3 years and I really need a job closer to where I live.
    This is my last week working my regular full time job and I start my new temp job on Monday Feb. 6 , 2012. It’s much closer to where I live and the work assignment is for 12 months. Although I feel strongly about this decision, I also feel uncertain about what might happen next.
    I am not being terminated , laid off, nor is my current position in danger of being eliminated to the best of my knowledge. This is my personal decision mostly due to monthly expenses exceeding my income.
    I would like to post my thoughts and concerns as I begin this new journey. Although many people might consider temp work as too risky, I look at it with NO LESS risk than gambling on the belief I might have my regular full time job tommorrow.

    Thank you

  10. Anonymous*

    Is there any legal consequences for quitting my staffing agency and going to work for the company the agency hooked me up with? I’ve only been with the temp. service for two weeks now.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Check your signed agreement with the temp company; it probably prohibits it. If it doesn’t, their agreement with the company you’re working for probably prohibits them from hiring you behind their back. But it’ll all be in those agreements.

          1. Anonymous*

            Thanks for the info!! Very Helpful, I guess I have to wait 3 more months before I talk with the company to ask for a full time.

  11. Anonymous*

    On Dec 2007 I was laid off and then was asked to come back months later but as a temporary worker. I am an administrative assistant so I am not a contract labor. But this time they paid me not through payroll but the accounting department where they pay vendors. Nothing was taken out of my check and i am responsible for my taxes. would you say they are trying to avoid paying payroll taxes and unemployment taxes? now i have been there over 5 years and they have never asked me to be a permanent employee or any benefits offered. I have asked but nothing.
    Recently my boss created a insane hostile environment and i went to the CEO. my boss still does revengeful things but i don’t think anyone in HR will do anything. do i have a case of any kind. and what about this company not paying their taxes, that cannot be right. this ceo is new and doesn’t know how i am paid. please advise/

  12. Demotivated*

    My situation is very similar: I got my current job through a staffing agency, and the position was originally listed as an 8-month long stint. It was later re-listed as temp-to-perm. When I arrived for my interview, the job was finally listed as an indefinite temporary position. At the time of the interview, I was desperate for work, and this job sounded like a dream come true as it is closely related to what I studied in college, the pay isn’t bad, it’s close to home and my and co-workers as well as management seem pretty cool.
    I’ve been working here for one full year. Management loves me, and I actually enjoy my job and am fully invested in work projects. My hiring agency told me they have no idea if or when I’d be hired as a permanent employee, but they would look into it (this was three months ago). While my current salary is the most I’ve ever been paid per hour, I am nearing my mid-thirties, am engaged and living in NYC. A permanent position would add much needed stability, benefits, income to live off of, etc.
    I really don’t want to wring anyone’s arm, but I’m considering sending out my updated resume.

  13. Anonymous*

    They wont hire.Why,because they are getting cheap labor out of you.Why would they hire.
    Seems unfair a company can work you as a temp and keep your hopes up with false intentions that your going to get hired to keep you performing at your best.Sad to say I am in this sort of situation where I have been working as a temp for over a year for one of the biggest corperations in this nation.Walmart Wearhouse distribution.I think its unlawfull that a company can work you as a temp for so long.Ive seem people come and go.I help train new hires in the department I am working in and most dont make the cut.But here I am still working as a temp.The sad thing is I am working not as an employee and sitting in the back of the bus and all that. Im making just enouph cash to get to work while my not coworkers are making 16-18 dallars an hr.We have general meetings where employees are rewarded for there good work with bonuses and so forth.Here I am working for over a year and never missing a day of work.They brought me in give you false missleading comments of beeing hired and here I am with my vehicle out in the parking lot getting towed while they give you a fake smile saying any day.I have not even had an interveiw.Just unlawfull.I feel discriminated and I feel violated of my human rights.I have given just as much sweat and blood to this company as the next person but yet they work me like I am an illegal immagrant.Ive been in the top 10 on the hire list for the past year and Ive seen more than that come and go threw the department I am working in.You cant use temp agencies for cheap labor.Where is our human rights.Walmart?

    1. Brandon*

      Actually, if you are through a temp agency then you are probably costing the company about twice as much as you are making. They could hire you directly, give you a 50% raise and still save money. Maybe you’re doing something wrong?

      1. Anonymous*

        They are intending to hire me after my 90 day contract through the temp agency is up. They have been training me in more areas than some of their current employees. I just think that it is going to violate my agreement with the temp agency to go to work directly for them but they are hinting that there is a way around it but won’t say anything until the 90 days is up.

    2. John Smith*

      Perhaps you are not getting hired because you use the word dallars. What the heck is a Dallar? Does this temp job pay you in monopoly money because I am assuming that if you made dollars you would be doing alright.

  14. Anonymous*

    I am currently working for a company through a temp agency in the state of MO. They want to hire me as a permanent employee but the company policy is not to pay the conversion fee. They say that after I have been employed (under contract) with them for 90 days they can hire me without paying the fee. I thought that I couldn’t accept a job with them for 6 months after that 90 day contract ends. Can anybody tell me what the rules/laws are about this. I would receive a substantial increase in pay and benefits right away if hired. I really need the permanent position but do not want to get into any trouble by accepting the job. HELP!!!!!

      1. Anonymous*

        How can I find out what the contract between the temp agency and the employer says?

  15. Andrea*

    So true you cannot have this conversation if you are a temporary worker. It does not happen. You would be in trouble with the agency that assigned you this position and with the manager of the company you are working for. I found that it was best to ask your agency what they thought. They can find out for you. I was a temp for almost 2 years at the job I am currently working. I have been here for 6 yrs. I thank God found a knitch for myself that no one else could fill and they hired me 4 yrs ago.

  16. Anonymous*

    hears a tip…dont ever work for a temp company called ranstadt…complete idiots…

  17. Lynne*

    I worked for a company was full time salary, we was partners with another company. I was the only account rep left the others had gotten fired. Was there for 9 months then the partner company took asorbed the company and I was transfered to the other company which is a longer drive, I went from salary to hourly. My title is Intern, I am classified as a part time temp within the company… Lost my monthky production bonus the other company was giving me. I get here there was 2 other girls. I trained them to do what I do, Now they have both quit and it is just me again. They other 2 girls were classified as temps too, They both found other jobs, one had been here over a year as a temp the other 2 months when I came. They offered them both jobs when they put in their 2 week notice, I kind of want to do the same to see if I get offered a job, but sort of scared have only been here 4 months. Not sure what to do

  18. Tired of Temping*

    I have currently been temping at my assigned position for over a year. There has been no mention of me being hired on a permanent basis. The company that I am assigned to is in my field of study, however the pay is actually half of what I used to make doing the same job ten years ago. The production floor is full of spanish speaking immigrants and I know for a fact that some of them have not yet obtained legal citizenship status. I approached the HR director of the company as well as my recruiter regarding the situation. They keep making excuses….I have decided to seek permanent positions elsewhere (without their knowledge of course). I believe that I am being kept on as a temp because they are avoiding having to give me a pay increase which they pretty much assume that I would ask for. A coworker of mine from the same agency was hired after her 9 month mark was reached. They offered her a permanent position at the same pay rate! I have temped before and I recall that after I was hired my pay rate increased. To me both companies are full of s#@t! I am disappointed because my agency is supposed to advocate for me and they aren’t. If this is the case, what the hell do I need them for?I need permanency and stability just like everyone else!

  19. Julie*

    Writer #1:
    Usually the temp agencies offer you medical coverage after you have been working for them 3 months. Follow up with the agency to check what qualifies you to get benefits?.

    Write #2:
    If the temp agency already told you what would happen if they hired you, you can speak to the person who interviewed you for the temp position or the person who has been supervising you. Explain to them you would like to go perm what can you do? Sometimes they have websites where you can apply for an open position in the company. Being that you are already there and are familiar with the practice.

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