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4 steps to getting short-term hiring to work for you

Almost every business has a need for a short-term hire at one time or another. Short-term hires may be required to cover for employees on approved leave or with prolonged illnesses; to help out during busy times of the year, such as tax season or before holidays; or to provide specific competencies needed to complete time-sensitive projects.


Regardless of the scenario, the goal is generally the same: find people with the right skills and make them productive as quickly as possible. But that’s a lot easier said than done. Hiring someone under time pressure who won’t be with you long-term is an entirely different process than hiring for a full-time position. Here are 4 steps for finding the right short-term hires to successfully fill your short-term needs.


Step #1: Determine Your Objective

Is this hire truly a short-term hire filling a specific need for a defined period of time with a definite stop date? Or is this more of a “job audition,” where the short-term role could develop into a permanent position? Your objective for the hire will dictate what kind of person you’re looking for and your selection criteria. Your vetting and hiring process will be specific to each type.


Step #2: Define the Role

What are you expecting this hire to do? Are there specific tasks and expectations for their time with you, or are you looking for a certain type of person to do a variety of things, as in a “job audition” situation. Defining the role with a clear description of duties and deadlines will help you determine the type of person you need to do the job.


Step #3: Assess Fit

This is the big one. With your objective and role established, it’s time to find the right person for the job. Knowing ahead of time whether your hire is a fixed-term temporary hire or a “job audition” situation will greatly inform your assessment criteria. For a fixed-term temporary hire, the most important criteria will be his/her ability to learn quickly and general employability.


You’ll want to assess if the candidate is:

  • Dependable
  • Equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job on day one
  • Conscientious, thorough, and detail-oriented
  • Coming in with baggage that will impede effectiveness
  • A “doer”
  • Adaptable: comfortable with short-term relationships, able to function in a variety of environments, and engage and connect with different types of people


Along with interviews, assessments are a quick way to evaluate the candidate’s ability to learn and employability. A cognitive assessment will indicate how quickly a person can pick up new skills and get up to speed. A skills test will measure the candidate’s ability to do the job. A behavioral assessment will uncover key characteristics such as whether he/she is proactive or reactive, task-oriented or people-oriented, conscientious, confident, adaptable, etc.


Someone with the right skills but not the exact behavioral profile that you’d look for in a long-term hire is more acceptable for a fixed-term temporary hire.


In the case of a ”job audition” hire, you’ll use the same criteria employed to make a fixed-term temporary hire, but you’ll also want to factor in raw talent, a more thorough behavioral profile, and long-term considerations, such as cultural fit. It’s also a two-way relationship, where you’re not only evaluating them, but they’re also deciding if they want to join your company.


Step #4: Get Them Engaged

Productivity is directly related to engagement, so it’s important to get your short-term hires ramped up as quickly as possible and committed to what they’re there to do. For the fixed-term temporary employee, you’ll want to provide a nice place to work that’s safe, and have all the necessary tools and resources ready on day one. If this is recurring work, where they might resume the role at a future date, creating a positive experience that’s mutually beneficial will increase the likelihood of their return.


For “job audition” hires, you’ll want to prepare a solid onboarding plan to engage them in the bigger picture, introducing them to coworkers, sharing the company vision and direction, and showing them where they’ll fit into the organization. Making them feel valued and part of the company early on will greatly influence their decision about staying long-term.


Bringing anyone new into your organization can be tricky and there’s always the possibility of making a bad decision, but perhaps more so when you’re trying to fill a short-term role in a hurry. Establishing the role requirements and your short- and long-term objectives at the beginning of the process, and using assessments to determine fit, will not only get candidates up and running more quickly, but also decrease the likelihood of making a hiring mistake.

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