how to be irreplaceable

How to Be Irreplaceable as a Contractor

There has been a shift in employment trends over the last several years leading to an increase in temporary positions.  Sparked in part by the recession, this is a viable option for companies to hire in an unstable environment. Even as we grow into a steadier business climate, the trend has stuck. This is perhaps in part to lingering market insecurities, or simply due to the convenience of utilizing these kinds of positions. 

Some quick stats:

  • More than three million people are working temporary jobs each week in the U.S., on average (American Staffing Association).
  • 47% of employers reported they will add more temporary opportunities in 2016. Of these employers, 58% intend to transition some temporary opportunities to permanent roles (CareerBuilder).
  • 14.3: The average employment tenure (in weeks) of contract and temporary employees in 2013 (Statista).
  • In July of 2015, temporary employment reached an all-time high of 2.9 million jobs (or 2.4% of all private sector jobs in the U.S) (US Dept. of Commerce).

While the term temp-to-hire is often used for temporary positions, it does not ensure the job will lead to a full time hire. If you’ve landed a contract role with a great employer and would like to stick around, or are looking for a temporary role as a step towards perm, here are a few ways to move you in the right direction.

Practice punctuality

However basic, consistently arriving on time and not missing a day goes a long way.  Temporary positions typically only last a number of weeks. If someone is unable to fulfill basic attendance standards, chances are they will not last the full contract period, let alone be considered for full time employment. On the flip side, those that are present and timely prove they they take the job seriously, and understand how to be irreplaceable. 

Act as if you are a permanent employee

You’ve landed a temporary position, and you see the company as a place you’d like to remain for a while, and hopefully advance. If you haven’t yet, be sure to get to know your co-workers better. You don’t need to be the office social butterfly, but engaging with those around you can help you to “stick”. If you are a bit more shy, start small and simply ask someone you feel more comfortable with to lunch one day. This could prove valuable, especially if they are more tenured. You have an opportunity to chat outside of the office and learn key insights about the company.  

Additionally, if you are able to show a vested interest in the organization you are temping with, and a desire to challenge yourself, that’s a great step in the right direction. Proceed with caution, but if you feel comfortable enough in your role, see if there are any new projects you can assist with, or even take on yourself. Hiring managers will likely take note. If the opportunity to bring someone on full time is available, you may be top of mind in the selection process.

Apply for a permanent position

Depending on the size of the company you are working at, you may or may not be privy to new job openings. Keep an eye on the website for perm job openings that fit your skill set. You already have a leg up on outside candidates who do not have the same insight. Additionally, you’ve likely already met people that can recommend you for the role, if not the actual hiring managers.

Do your best (REALLY)

Treat this job as seriously as you would any other. Think of it as an audition where you can demonstrate your strengths and work ethic. Using all these tips can set you on the right track in how to be irreplaceable as an employee. Even if your contract period does come to an end, you have gained valuable experience and clinched references that can speak to the kind of worker you are.