While the national unemployment rate has dropped recently many Americans can still attest that landing an ideal job is very challenging. Just a few short years ago I was one of those people feverishly seeking a job (any job) that was paying a decent salary and offering benefits that were beneficial. Sigh. I remember the day that my phone ringed and I heard these magical words…

“Hi Alisa, This is Natalie from FabJob. Are you still looking for a Project Management position?”

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

I almost could not breathe. I panicked and certainly began to stutter.

“Yes, yes, and I can start in the morning,” was the response in my head.

After months of submitting my resume for every job, on every website, nothing. Then just like that my prayers were answered. “Big Bank” was looking for a junior marketing project manager and this recruiter was holding the ticket to my dream job.

The Recruiter

Natalie was polite and a quick talker. Even still I could tell that she knew exactly the skill set that the hiring manager needed.  I also could tell that she wanted to fill the role just as badly as I wanted it. Within two days I was interviewing with the hiring manager and then the local team. Two loooooooong weeks later, I finally received the call and was offered the position.

I contracted for nearly two years and ended up with a full time position. My experience was great and here are my 6 rules for turning your contracting gig into a FT position with benefits!

6 Rules from Contracting to Full-Time

Rule #1 – Be confident about what you do know and humble about what you don’t.

I knew that I could handle the responsibilities of the role but I did not know how well I would handle such a matrixed organization. I listened intently and asked questions when things were unclear.

Rule #2 – Focus on delivering credible results and more than what’s required.

Insist on doing your very best on all assignments no matter how big or small. Make sure that deadlines are always met and that your work stands out for being concise, error free and well designed. Google searches are a great way to view sample reports and deliverables for creative methods used by others in the workspace.

Rule #3 – Be assertive about learning as much as possible about the team, the business unit, business partners and the organization.

Avoid the ostrich approach of coming into the office, burying your head and just getting your work done. Find out how the team came about and how this office opened and why these teams partner, etc, etc. This type of history will allow you to connect the dots and put together a better picture of the organization.

Rule #4 – Always be apart of the team and don’t label yourself as an outsider.

Depending on the size of your organization, most people won’t know that you’re a contractor unless you share it with them. Don’t isolate yourself from various functions or events simply based on your title. See yourself as a valuable contributor (and you deserve the right to be there!) knowing that without your help the team would not be doing as well as it is.

Rule #5 – Build alliances with employees who like you and who admire your work.

UberImportant because everyone needs a champion. This person is in your corner, rooting you on and willing to recommend you for the next opportunity. Be careful not to force these type of relationships so let them grow and flourish naturally.

Rule #6 – Take advantage of internal professional development opportunities such as eLearning offerings, monthly forums, and all key meetings.

This demonstrates ambition and drive. Managers and your peers will be impressed with your desire to fill in any gaps you may have relating to your role. Additionally you will be amazed with how this expands your ability to add meaningful content to solutions and overall creativity.

From Contractor to Vice-President

After almost two years in that junior Project Manager role, I was offered a Vice-President position on a new team. I learned of the opening from a friend (also at Big Bank) who I made regular contact with while contracting. I was recommended for the role, interviewed three times with various teammates and I was then offered the job!

While it was sad to leave my former team–we really became a family–I’m kind of glad that a new door opened for me. My learning experience and my exposure increased significantly and I am now in a role that I love.

Be open to contracting and use it as a stepping stone to the ultimate place where you are destined to be!