Temp and contract work have many advantages. You get to try out different roles at a variety of companies, bringing in immediate income without tying yourself down to any one employer. You get the structure and psychological boost of a job, and maintain a record of continuous employment on your resume. You pick up new skills. You build your network. What’s not to like?

But the day may come when you want more, like better benefits and a future. Or you find an employer you really love and want to stick around for a while.

The good news here is that going from temp to permanent happens all the time. In fact, it’s one of the very best paths toward finding a great position because you already know you like them and they already know they like you.

Here’s what you need to know:

First, never succumb to the mindset of “I’m just a temp.” Always act like a member of the team. This means showing up on time, producing error-free work, volunteering for the tougher jobs, working late when needed, and just being all-around indispensable. While you’re at it, observe the company culture — their (most likely unwritten) dress code, their norms of behavior — and make an honest effort to fit in.

You should also put time and effort into networking in-house. In a friendly way, get to know your supervisor, other department heads, the HR staff and as many permanent staff members as possible. Your network can never be too big! Don’t just hang around with the other contractors.

Because it’s interesting, and because you might need this information, always be looking for ways to learn more about the places you work. You may have to make a point of this because temps and contract workers often don’t receive in-depth training. Ask questions. Volunteer to take on tasks beyond your current job description. Find out about the company’s history and mission.

If you do determine you want to take this relationship to the next level, make your intentions known. Because you never know: The employer may be assuming you’re happy as a temp. So be upfront about your goals. Talk to your boss about what you feel you have to offer. Ask what you need to do to be considered for a permanent post.

Seattle Times Explore columnist Karen Burns
Seattle Times Explore columnist Karen Burns