Aug 2, 2013, 10:30am CDT   

John Alston, guest contributor


Getting a full-time job seems more and more frequently to involve turning a part-time or contract position into a full-time one. Employers this year have added four times as many part-time jobs as full-time ones, or 93,000 part-time jobs per month compared to only 22,000 full-time ones, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

How successful people are in converting part-time positions into full-time jobs depends on their skill in navigating the transition. However, be aware that there are often no guarantees and no promises that part-time or contract workers will be hired full-time, even if suitable openings arise.

People can strengthen their chances of changing part-time positions into full-time jobs by applying the following seven steps:

1. Specialize: When applying for part-time or contract work, concentrate on fields where your skills and experience will distinguish you as a valuable contract or part-time addition. Don’t present yourself as a “jack of all trades,” but as a specialist who can help companies achieve their objectives. Even if presenting yourself as a “generalist,” do so with an “area of special expertise and accomplishment.”

2. Differentiate: Take steps to differentiate yourself and stand out. Assemble a portfolio showcasing your talents and experience within the same industry or the same type of business as the potential employer. Offer recommendations on how to improve sales, marketing, productivity, quality or management. Whatever your field of expertise, find how you can impact either the top line or the bottom line.

3. Inquire: Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your part-time employment. Have this spelled out and don't take it for granted. If you are signing a contract for part-time work, request that it include the potential to be hired full-time.

4. Commit: Act as if you already are a full-time employee. Demonstrate by your dedication, problem-solving and people skills that you are a committed member of the team and not a short-timer. With more people quitting in an improving job market, many employers value commitment and they may begin to see you as an essential part of their team.

5. Out-perform: Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you. Learn the criteria that are used to evaluate performance and continually endeavor to impress by beating deadlines and exceeding expectations. Strive to excel in all you do, but keep in mind that it is also important that your co-workers feel you can be a team player.

6. Fit in: Be positive and upbeat. Don't go around the workplace thinking of yourself as “only a contractor.” Never display a negative attitude. Try to fit into the company as much as possible. When two candidates for a job have the same or similar skills, attitude and how well they fit in are often the determining factors.

7. Reach out: Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. Keep in contact with people who recruit for the company, as well as employees in other departments. Ask to be invited to or sit in on staff meetings. Make sure they know what you are doing and that you are interested in staying with the organization. Build an internal network that can help you solve problems and that gets you visibility with decision makers.



John Alston is a career advisor and coach at The Innis Company. He works with executives on career growth, career transition and leadership development. He is also the president of the firm. Contact him at [email protected]