Perm or Temp-to-Perm?

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So - you’ve FINALLY received the go ahead to bring on that designer/writer/personal chef you’ve been asking for. You know you’ve got to get this hire right, and you’ve been told you have a few different options.

You can bring this person in as a full-time employee (perm). Or, you can bring someone in as a contractor with the understanding that, if things go swimmingly, they will be converted to an FTE (temp-to-perm). *For the sake of this blog, we’ll leave out freelance entirely, as this typically comes from a different budget.

So, let’s explore the pros and cons of perm and temp-to-perm.

You’ve decided, “Hey world – I want a full-time employee and I want one now!” This is the road most typically travelled, and for good reason. Career freelancers aside, most potential employees want full-time employment with benefits, vacation, etc. Which means your recruiting efforts will turn up candidates that are either employed full-time, contracting, or unemployed. The net you cast for a perm employee is wide, and clearly the hope is to catch the interest of great candidates from each of those pools.

Temp-to-perm, on the other hand, means that you may have a harder time accessing those who are already employed full-time. It’s a tough decision for someone to leave their current employ, particularly for the somewhat uncertain world of temp-to-perm. If the temp situation doesn’t work out, or budgets get cut for some unforeseen reason, they can be left out in the cold. And unless an organization hires through an agency, candidates could be forfeiting benefits and unemployment protection. It can be a gutsy move that requires real courage.

However, while finding these candidates might be harder, there is a real plus for temp-to-perm when it comes to personality and cultural fit. With full-time, you may hire someone who interviews much better than they perform, or you may pass up on someone who could be a great fit but fell flat during that first meeting. Bringing someone in on a temp-to-perm basis allows you to test the waters before taking the plunge. And while this analogy may be overused in the staffing industry, it is like the courting period before getting married. If it all works out, congrats! If not, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

The bottom line is there are merits to both perm and temp-to-perm. If you approach your position as an FTE, you will have access to every potential candidate out there. And if you employ the efforts of a staffing agency, your network will grow to include passive candidates who are not actively looking, but would move for the right opportunity. On the flip side, a temp-to-perm situation allows both the organization and the candidate to try each other out. It also makes the hiring decision a little less daunting because there is an understanding that the level of commitment is not as high.

If you have the time to conduct a search for an FTE, then this may be the best option. If the work is piling up and you’ve struggled with cultural fit in the past, a temp-to-perm situation may be better. Either way, going through a trusted agency partner is always a prudent move.