…life is ‘temp to perm’

We had an engineering candidate this last week who was in serious contention for a position with one of our clients. The client is a small engineering firm and the owner is always afraid of making a mistake in hiring. He’s a typical engineer who has a tendency to see the glass is always “half-empty.”

The kind of candidate that he was looking for is very hard to find. In the past four or five months we have only been able to discover two or three of them. Of the ones that we presented him, no one was really that interested in working for him…except this last one.

Everything went along really well during the initial interview and the subsequent interviews. Admittedly, he had about 80% of what the hiring authority was looking for, but for the money, the candidate was just about perfect. The employer, however, got scared about the candidate’s ability to do the job and when he went to offer him the position, he decided that he wanted to make it a “temp to perm” job offer. This means that he was going to hire the candidate on a “temporary” basis…90 days… and then, if everything worked out, hire him on a “permanent” basis.

We tried to explain to the owner of the company that, especially on this level, hiring a candidate in this manner does not give the candidate a lot of confidence in the company or the owner’s ability to make a good decision. The owner of the company said that he “didn’t want to make a mistake,” so he wanted the flexibility of the temp to perm relationship.

The owner of the company and the candidate had already come to a conclusion about salary, etc., but when the candidate got this news, he turned the job down. He said that he was looking for a permanent position and nothing that would hint of “temporary.”

We tried to explain to the owner that no engineer on this level is going to take a job like that, especially in this market. They simply don’t have to. There are too many other opportunities around where the idea of temp to perm doesn’t even come up.

We tried to explain to the candidate that this kind of thing is really not a big deal. If he performs well, he’s not going to have to worry about the future. Just do your job and you get to keep it. Pretty simple.

Unfortunately, both parties didn’t seem to be aware of the reality that every job is temporary…life is temporary… only death is permanent. The owner of the company lost a great candidate. We tried to make him aware that even when you hire a candidate “permanently,” you can let that employee go at any time. We tried to explain to the candidate that whether he is hired “temp to perm” or permanently, he could be let go at any time, and he could leave at any time.

Not only did the whole thing crater, but the employer was mad at us because the candidate wouldn’t take the job. He claimed that we wasted his time and that he would have to find an engineer on his own. No problem, but it is just kind of sad that he made this more complicated than it needed to be. We understand the candidate getting scared. He had a job and was leaving it to take this one. Although this was a better opportunity, at more money and a better future, the candidate got real nervous when the owner came up with the idea that he would like to “try before you buy.”

We do understand both sides of this situation. The owner of the company should have just hired the candidate on a permanent basis, realizing that he could let him go just about any time. Most candidates know that, except for illegal reasons, they can be let go at just about any time and, likewise they can leave the job at just about any time.

Everything in life is temp to perm!


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