Moving from a contract position to a full-time one is pretty common in IT. Contracting is a way for companies to test technical skills and cultural fit before they commit to an employee—especially an expensive one. “Mid-market and larger companies like to hire in bulk, so they really gauge the fit and eventually make a permanent home for the best people,” said Andy McCall, managing partner for executive search and consulting firm McCall & Lee. “It’s a great way [so] companies don’t make a mistake in hiring.”
And while not all tech professionals want to go full-time, the majority of contract professionals will make the leap at some point, especially for the right company. But just how easy is it to make the transition? Not all IT jobs are created equal when it comes to quickly moving from contract to full-time; IT recruiters believe the following five types of jobs represent the best chance for jumping from a contract to a full-time position:
Software engineers and developers often find their job descriptions evolve as time goes on. This natural progression means that many a tech pro is upgraded from contracting to full-time status as he or she takes on more and more responsibility.
“Even if a company has a software engineer work on a project, those projects often have debugging, testing, and modifications to them,” suggested Bob Hadick, president of Russ Hadick & Associates, a recruiting firm. “They can get out in the field, and a customer may want some piece of the software custom. Eventually, the company can turn a contract into a full-time hire, supporting and enhancing the product.”
In companies that juggle multiple and ongoing projects, it’s relatively common to bring in a project manager for one project and use that as a trial. “If they can perform on one project, and there’s enough demand, clients will often try to convert them and stick them on other projects,” said James Wright, partner at Bridge Technical Talent.
For those who overachieve on one project, it’s often an easy choice for the company to make them a full-timer. “It’s better economically, and you already have someone who understands the project culture of your organization and has proven themselves as being able to integrate across teams,” Wright added.
There simply aren’t enough network architects and engineers to go around; the best and brightest can quickly find full-time gigs, especially if they start out as a contractor for the company that eventually hires them. “The role often begins on a project or temporary basis, but it can seamlessly transition into a full-time one,” said John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology. “Managing a single project or joining an existing effort will be a good gauge of a temporary employees’ breadth of knowledge and personality and will allow managers the time to consider their chances for success in the future with the company.”
Business analyst jobs often start out on a project basis, too, but fulfilling one project can create new work. “For example, a BA might be doing requirements-gathering and uncovering a new customer need or business opportunity, which would lead to extending the BA’s contract,” said Julie Desmond, IT and software engineering recruiting manager at George Konik Associates. In other cases, the company might opt to make the analyst a full-time employee.
Companies without a systems administrator face a critical need. “If you’re a strong AIX administrator, you’ll be able to port your skills pretty quickly into another AIX environment, and the quality of the candidate is easy to evaluate,” Wright said. “You have great conditions for a contract to hire—quick impact, strong need, portable skills, and quick evaluation.”