Even in the best economic times hiring a mid-to senior-level employee is an expensive proposition. Because the process is usually fairly lengthy, the hiring manager will be extra careful to ensure that they scrutinize every candidate in minute detail so that they make the best possible selection. They do not want to spend the time “getting the candidate hired” only to realize they may have made a bad decision.
There is another option. Companies need to identify best-of-breed employees without necessarily making any commitments and there are qualified candidates in the market that are willing to accept temporary work assignments.
This is a win-win situation. Even the most complex and bureaucratic organizations can usually bring on a temporary employee with minimal fuss. Once the employee is in the position and performing their duties, it allows the managers to properly ascertain the capacities of that employee. If the employee meets the requirements, then they can convert that position to a permanent full-time one. If the candidate does not meet the requirements, and the contractor is simply terminated, the organization has not wasted any time hiring the wrong employee.
This is also beneficial for the candidate, since it allows him or her to get back into the working environment polishing their skill set and expanding their network of contacts.
In order for this model to actually work, the rules of engagement need to be properly documented and explained ahead of time (for both the employee and hiring manager). The employee needs to understand how he or she will be judged, and under what conditions he or she may be converted to full-time. How long will the trial period last? How will success be determined? What is the process if the candidate is to be retained?
The flipside of this arrangement is also that the employee may not meet your expectations and therefore may not be converted to full-time. This process should also be predetermined. In the event that the candidate does not meet the requirements, how will they be notified?
This is one of those situations where not only the candidate but also the hiring manager needs to take a leap of faith. As a manager, you may be asking yourself if the candidate is accepting this position because they are interested or simply until they find a better opportunity. Ordinarily, many managers would be reluctant to even interview a candidate that has not worked for prolonged periods of time, however this is not a normal situation. Many qualified and hard-working individuals have been made redundant. This will be an important realization to accept quickly.
The candidate on the other hand, needs to accept the fact that this may or may not turn into a permanent position. If the candidate has been unemployed for an extended period of time, they may realize that their skills are not as sharp but that these types of opportunities help them get back on the saddle.
WORD OF WARNING
Because of the nature of the Internet, I am not sure where you are reading this from. Each jurisdiction has its own employment rules, and you should consult your legal and HR departments to determine if this model is right for you.