One of my colleagues, Bryan Harter, brought to my attention an article on RecruitingBlog by Debbie Fledderjohann entitled “The Secret to Hiring for Attitude.” The post references a Forbes online interview by Dan Schawbel with Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring for Attitude. The interview covers a number of topics including why so many new hires don’t work out, and so quickly (46% of them fail within 18 months), the differences between technical, soft skills and attitude, and the ways that screening for these attributes are driving changes in the interview process. Ms. Fledderjohann points out that testing out a worker’s suitability on the job is a great way to ensure that they are a good fit as it reveals things the traditional interview does not. I couldn’t agree more: contract-to-direct, temp-to-perm, “try before you buy,” whatever name it goes by, can be a great way for both the prospective employee and the company to test things out and make sure both are happy before making a longer term commitment.
I think sometimes it’s considered unseemly or a less than desirable way for a company to operate, but it shouldn’t be. Far from acting like it is a dirty little secret, staffing professionals should share the idea and both employers and employees should recognize the benefits it can afford. The interview process does not always give either party the full picture or accurately predict how everything will work in practice. Attitude is just one important quality than can be illusive to identify except in practice.
Temp-to-perm hiring is a great opportunity for both the employer and employee to gain real time experience and on the job knowledge of each other so that a permanent position can be offered and accepted with greater confidence. Staffing agencies can play an important role in helping both constituencies take advantage of this powerful tool. As the economy recovers, the demand for IT talent, already high, will increase and the ability to identify candidates that will succeed will be even more important as the costs of failure increase. Used strategically, a “try before you buy” strategy can help manage your IT workforce OR your career. It can improve the odds that what seems like your dream job actually will be, or reduce the odds that after only a year you’ll be trying to terminate someone who seemed like a sure fit. Let’s not keep it a secret anymore. Contact Bryan Harter or myself to discuss how we can help!