Going from temp to perm

How to turn a short-term gig into a full-time position

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By: Lauren Cassidy
User Icon Robert Half International

When the job market gets tough, the tough get temping. Short-term assignments like accounting internships and contract work can be one of the best ways for an aspiring CPA to uncover that coveted job opportunity upon graduation.

Many firms are incorporating a mix of temporary personnel into their staffing plans, giving them the flexibility to have extra hands on deck during busy times. So what’s in it for you? Instead of only getting an hour-long interview to impress your future manager, you get the entire length of your contract to show them your accounting smarts. Once convinced, many managers hiring interim employees to join their full-time staff.

It’s not a surprise that managers looking to hire would first consider someone who has excelled in a short-term position, since they’ve had a chance to size them up as an employee. Want statistical proof? Nearly four in ten (38 percent) of executives in a Robert Half survey said that bringing in a candidate on a temporary basis provides the most insight into an individual’s future job performance.

The reverse is also true. As an interim accounting professional, you’ll have the opportunity to “try out” prospective employers. You’ll get a feel for the job itself as well as get a glimpse into a firm’s culture. Not to mention, you’ll be able to make a little cash during those breaks from school.

Even if the potential for a temporary-to-hire arrangement may not exist on a particular assignment, interim assignments give you a chance to gain valuable experience, build on your accounting skills and expand your professional network. All of which can bring you closer to your ultimate goal of landing a new position.

Interested in pursuing temporary work? Consider these five tips for making the most out of an interim opportunity (and maybe land yourself a job offer):

Tip #1: Partner up

For temporary assignments, consider working with a staffing firm that specializes in accounting positions. These firms typically have strong connections within their industry, and their representatives are often former accountants with keen insights into making good matches. When searching for an internship, work with your college career center, which will have local business contacts and know of specific opportunities in different fields.

Tip #2: Be upfront

Let your staffing firm or career center know your desire for a full-time job but your willingness to work in temporary assignments. This will help your contact identify appropriate opportunities for you.

Tip #3: Think long-term

Once you’re on an assignment, carry out your responsibilities with the same initiative that you would in a full-time position. Adapt quickly to the corporate culture and start looking for areas to start contributing immediately. Employers will be assessing how you respond to challenges and handle constructive criticism.

Tip #4: Observe rules (of any kind)

Be sure to follow office protocol and ask questions when clarification is needed. Look to others in the office for behavioral, business culture and work style cues. Also, seek feedback on how you’re doing and how you can improve.

Tip #5: Be yourself

Employers want to see how well you’ll fit in with the team, so make an effort to build rapport with your coworkers. Showing an interest in their responsibilities will help you cultivate personal relationships with colleagues (who could later speak on your behalf for full-time work).

So get out there and bring your “A” game, and you might just find your future home away from home.

Lauren Cassidy is a senior regional vice president with Robert Half International. Lauren has more than 10 years of experience in the staffing industry and oversees her company’s accounting, finance and administrative placement services in the Carolinas and Virginia. For more information on Robert Half, please visit or follow Robert Half on Twitter at
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