Jim Grant's Blog

Help for Job Seekers – It's all about the process!

When Considering a Contract/Interim/Temp Position

It’s fairly common for job seekers to inquire as to whether it is a good idea to accept a contract/interim/temp position. The general, simple answer is “sure.” If may be somewhat more difficult to do so, but you can continue to search for a full time job while you take on a non-permanent position.

However, when considering / accepting a contract/interim/temp position, you shouldn’t become blasé about the terms and condition of the position. Below are some issues to address when considering a non-permanent position. (Please note. I am not an attorney and I certainly suggest that you consult one if any documents created are going to require signatures.)

First, in addition to the employer you will be working for, there likely will be a “temporary” agency or external recruiting firm involved. If that is the case, you want to be clear about the following:

  • How much will you be paid per unit of time (hour, day, week, etc.)?
  • What will be the process for recording the amount of time that you worked?
  • When will you get paid? How often? What is the lag time between working and getting paid?
  • What benefits will the agency / firm provide you? (for example: health care, vacation, etc.)
  • Will you be reimbursed for expenses (for example: commuting, parking, travel) you incur?
  • When do your services begin and end?

Don’t sign anything that obligates you to pay a fee. 

If there isn’t a “temporary” agency / firm involved, then you will need to address the above issues with the employer.

In addition, you need to address the following issues with the employer:

  • What will you be expected to do / accomplish?
  • By when?
  • What services / products / materials / equipment is the employer expecting you to provide?
  • What will the employer provide to help you perform the work? (for example: an office, desk, computer)
  • Is the employer going to ask you to sign a confidentiality or non-compete agreement?
  • Make sure you know who you will be taking orders from.
  • What are the criteria upon which it will determined whether the “temp” position turns into a “perm” position? Who makes the decision?
  • When will the “temp” position turn into a “perm” position?
  • When the job goes to “perm”, what will be your salary? (The time to discuss this issue is before you accept a “temp” position. If you wait until after the “temp” position is completed, you will likely be disappointed in the salary that is offered.)
  • When the job goes to “perm”, what benefits will you be eligible for?

Now, how do you achieve this detailed understanding with the other party(ies)? Well, there are generally 3 ways. Most people handle it verbally. At the other extreme is a written and signed contract. The third way is in between and less common. It is a document that lists items like the ones above. It’s just that it typically isn’t signed. It could be a letter from you stating your understanding and asking for confirmation or, a slightly more formal variation, is a document called a “Document of Understanding”.

Some criteria used to decide which method to use are your personal style and how well you know and have experience with the other party(ies).

I hope you find some of this to be helpful.


February 19, 2010 - Posted by | All, Interviewing, Negotiating

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