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What I wish I knew about contract to hire

Have you never done a contract-to-hire position before? I had never heard of it before, but when I quit my last job earlier this year (2022) and started looking around, I saw this type of role all over the place.

I just recently accepted an offer for a full-time, salaried position at a job in which I started as a contract-to-hire for six months.

This is what I learned.

What is contract to hire?

Contract to hire is basically just a role as an independent contractor, but with the planned ability to go full time after the set amount of time in the contract.

This gives both the employee and employer the flexibility to see what working at the company is like and make a decision towards the end.

You will interview with both the contracting company and employer

When you are first looking to get the job, you will need to perform an interview with the contracting company. After this, you will then need an interview with the client, aka your eventual employer.

The nice thing about this engagement, I have found, is that you typically won’t need to do too many interviews before they make a decision.

Be prepared to negotiate. . . twice

One element of the job that was not appropriately conveyed to me was the need to negotiate for both the contract position AND the salaried position.

When your contract is nearing an end, you will need to have another round of negotiation with the hiring manager at the employer company.

This was the part I didn’t like about the process, but the demand for workers right now is fairly high, so negotiation was not too difficult.

Establish metrics for success if you can

The contractor position is one of uncertainty. You might get paid more and can expense your business purchases, but you also get no benefits and no unemployment if something were to go wrong.

One way to ensure things don’t go wrong is to ask the employer how you can measure success. With these metrics, the employer will not have grounds to rescind the contract, since you agreed on metrics at the beginning.

Try to find metrics that are:

  • Measurable – Preferably this is a binary metric that you can objectively quantify
  • Actually attainable – Don’t accept metrics that you don’t have full control over. For example, you might present a goal on attendance or a number of projects worked, but don’t present metrics around project success if other people can also contribute to that success or failure.

Explore a salaried “contract” role

Still concerned about job security?

Through discussion, I learned that there is the option for a salaried contract to hire approach. Your mileage may vary, but I did have the option to take a salaried approach with the contracting company.

If the employer decided to cut off the contract, I could be a salaried employee, so the contractor would need to find me a new contract and I would be a paid bench employee until then.

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