Temp to perm

More jobs are being advertised as 'temp to perm'. On one hand, having the opportunity to start off as a temporary worker before you commit to working permanently at a company is a great way to suss out if the job is really for you. But could it also mean getting stuck as a perpetual temp if you don't end up getting permanent employment? Read on to find out more.

A young couple are talking about going from temp to perm. This is a wide-angle image.

Let’s start by explaining what we’re on about:

What does perm mean?

Even if you’re privy to all the internet slang of the 2020s, you’re probably still asking yourself – What does perm mean? And if you’re old enough to know about the hairstyle, you’re just wondering what that term is doing in an article about jobs. 

Well, in this context, a ‘perm’ is not a haircut. Instead, it refers to a permanent job meaning a job with a fixed contract and no foreseeable end date.

What does temporary mean?

Now that we’ve covered ‘perm’, we’ve still gotta solve the ‘what does temporary mean?’ (in terms of the job search) mystery. 

A ‘temp’ or temporary role is a role that has an expiration date. This includes things like example maternity cover, or seasonal work.

What does ‘temp to perm’ mean?

Temp to perm a.k.a temporary to permanent, is fairly simple to explain. It’s slang for work which is temporary, but could lead to a permanent contract. This type of work is often offered by recruitment agencies. A company will let the agency know that they initially want to find a worker to fill a role temporarily, but it could lead to something permanent if the person is suitable. You can find out more about registering with a recruitment agency here.

Is temp to perm a type of contract?

A role offered as temp to perm rarely comes with a contract. So don’t start doing a happy dance assuming that they’re gonna offer you a contract immediately. Keep in mind, this is something the recruitment agent should make painfully clear. Any sort of permanent position will only be offered if the employer is impressed by the work you’re doing. At the same time, temp to perm shouldn’t be confused with a temporary contract, also known as a fixed term contract either. Remember, that’s a contract for a specific period of time. If you’re interested in finding out more, or just wanna know the answer to ‘what is a permanent contract’, you can start by learning about what a contract of employment is here.

What should I do if I’m offered a temp to perm position?

Some people actively seek temp to perm roles because they want to try out a job or sector before they commit. Being a temp is flexible which means you can leave quickly if you don’t like it. But it works both ways. Since you’re only a temp, your employer can give you the sack really quickly, sometimes on the same day, if they don’t like your work. That being said, as a temp you do have rights – just not as many as employees with fixed-term or permanent contracts getting benefits such as pensions and healthcare. If you’re wondering what those rights are, then read this article by clicking here.

What if I want to go permanent?

Moving from a temp role to a permanent contract is totally possible, but it’s gonna take some serious negotiating skills. If you really want the job, you have to prove it. That means working hard, volunteering for extra jobs, using your initiative and being helpful and enthusiastic. And maybe bring in a box of chocolates for your boss from time to time.

Om Ruparel from Yellow Cat Recruitment has some tips for people temps who want to land a permanent role:

  • Know the industry and research the company you’re working for.
  • Dress well – even if the people in permanent employment at the company don’t.
  • Get there 10 minutes early and work 10 minutes later than you’re supposed to each day – it’ll be noticed and appreciated by employers.
  • Always turn up on time – show that you’re responsible and have good time management skills.
  • Stay off Facebook, private emails and your phone during work hours.
  • Try to establish good communication with your boss from the very start. That way you can talk about your role confidently and explore your options down the road.

“I always tell people, whether they’re working in a place for one day or three months, to treat it as if you’re working there for life,” says Om. “Know the industry back to front and do your homework on the company. If you show the employer that you add value, they’re way more likely to take you on.”

Will I automatically be offered the job if it becomes available permanently?

Unfortunately, getting stuck as a permanent temp is one of the potential outcomes of this approach to job-hunting. While increased flexibility suits some people, losing out on benefits like discretionary bonuses can get increasingly frustrating over time. Plus, there’s also a lack of job security to worry about. “Recruitment agencies should really be emphasising that there’s never a guarantee that you’ll get a full time job in the end,” says Om.

It’s worth mentioning that if your temporary role becomes available as permanent you may still have to apply for the role. Even if you’re clearly the right person for the job. And before you start going off about how unfair that is, it’s actually because equal opportunities policy often means organisations have to advertise externally. So it’s definitely not personal.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 07-Jun-2022