Unemployment is rising again in Corpus Christi, and more local residents are looking for jobs. Luckily, there are more ways of getting a foot in the door than there used to be. The amount of temp-to-hire work in the U.S. has doubled since the recession ended in 2009, giving job applicants more chances to win a full-time position while also getting paid in the meantime.

Yet despite the upsides, temp-to-hire etiquette isn’t a solidified as the traditional job interview. Temp workers hoping to get the jobs they start shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming they have less to worry about than formal applicants. The truth may be just the opposite.

Temp Work Provides Flexibility — More or Less

Compared to the face-to-face interview, with its many familiar phases and predictable questions, the activity and salary that comes with temp-to-hire work can seem a much easier route to full-time employment.

Would-be employees can feel out opportunities prior to joining the team, build relationships with future colleagues and supervisors, showcase their skills and learn what it takes to succeed on the job, all without the pressure of making a less-than-ideal situation work out for the best.

Although this gets rid of some pressures, it creates others that may not be so obvious. Evaluation periods are extended over a longer period of time. Professional mistakes that workplaces might tolerate from full-time employees may seem inappropriate coming from temp-to-hire candidates.

Temp-to-Hire Is Code for ‘Extended Job Interview’

Multiple temps often compete for the same positions. They must therefore make an extended professional effort. Just what this means varies widely by workplace. Candidates should gauge expectations of:

  • Social Interaction: Some workplaces like their employees to keep their heads down and hands moving. Others prize individuality and consider a little banter to be a good thing.
  • Precision and Punctuality: Does the workplace expect its employees to get it right the first time, never be late, and follow all instructions to a ‘T’? If so, outside-the-box thinking and flex-time may be out of the question.
  • Work-Life Balance: If your temp-work experience seems like a sprint, then being a full-time employee may feel like a marathon. If you can’t manage to eat properly and get enough sleep during the temporary phase, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly find the time once hired.

Because hiring chances depend on performance, temp-to-hire candidates may not have the luxury of being their own worst critics. They should be confident in their abilities and honest about their real difficulties.

There’s no need to state their capabilities as an interview candidate might. They should instead try to show, not tell, that they possess the required skills. Although this may feel unnatural at first, simply showing up and making it clear that you have the ability to do the job is an honest and effective way of proving your value.

You’re No Temp Once You’re Part of the Team

For managers, the temp-to-hire model takes some of the guesswork out of finding the right people and lets them get more work done in the meantime. Candidates can help their chances by seeing things from a manager’s perspective: overworked and understaffed, with pressure from above to keep the engines running.

Becoming a manager’s dream hire is less about touting your own worth than proving your value to the team:

  • Be low maintenance. Attempt to train yourself while on the job and be mindful of your manager’s time.
  • Put in some extra effort. Take a little time at home to learn some things about your industry you haven’t been told on the job.
  • Focus on your job. It’s tempting to offer extra help when you can, but don’t get off task until you’ve completed your assigned work.
  • Don’t chase shortcuts. Avoid workplace politics and earn your way up the corporate ladder by producing an excellent work product.

Temp-to-Hire is One Way for Millennials to Prove Their Value

It’s the job of temp agencies to groom candidates for the hiring process, something many younger applicants struggle with. Agencies help them to fit in and put their talents to work.

Many younger job seekers have problems communicating their strengths during the interview process. Seen by many of their more-seasoned coworkers as lazy, cocky and entitled, Millennials must often prove their worth before overcoming the labels that define their generation.

RELATED: Stop Fighting the Future: Making Millennials Part of the Team

Young candidates can get jobs through temp work where opportunities might otherwise be scarce. Temping lets them prove their capabilities and willingness to learn in ways that a resume, cover letter and formal conversation just won’t allow.

The Temps That Get Hired Are the Ones Who Make the Investment

Temporary work opportunities get your foot in the door to test the waters and bypass the formal interview process, but they come with their own set of unwritten rules job candidates should be mindful of.

To go from being a company’s latest temp to its newest hire takes a flexible mindset, the drive to become a contributor, and a willingness to make an investment in a company while they consider making one in you.

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