Want to work at one of the 100 Best Companies to work for or similarly desirable company but keep getting ‘Dear John’ rejection letters or never hear back from the recruiter? The reason these companies have far more job seekers trying to get in than jobs they have available. So absent any way for them to actually interview all the applicants, they resort to filtering candidates based on somewhat unfair indicators. These companies have the option and therefore go only to the top schools to recruit college hires or top B schools for management hires. For experienced hires – your chances of being shortlisted are much higher if you worked at another ‘Top Company’. So does it mean if you didn’t go to a top school or didn’t work at a top company, you should give up on your dream job at your dream company? No, fortunately there’s a greatly underlooked way on how to get a job with your dream company and that is contracting.
It is a well-kept secret that one of the biggest sources of employees at many top companies is its contractor or temporary worker pool. These companies hire hundreds of analysts, accountants, marketers, engineers, etc. every year to work on a temporary basis to fill in for peak demand times or for projects. These companies hire these contractors through IT staffing agencies like Manpower, Kelly Services, Aerotek, etc. A lot of these contractors may be folks that didn’t meet the criteria of a full-time job but instead of settling to work at a lesser known or less desirable company, decided to opt for a contract job at their dream company instead.
The great thing about contracting is that contractors get a chance to see the company from the inside but also show their skills, knowledge and creativity over the project duration like an extended interview. This leads the Supervisor or Manager to start looking at the contractor much more favorably as a potential employee than if they just had a 1 hr. interview with them.
This is in contrast to how a job seeker might have performed in a few hours of stressful back-to-back interviews being posed hypothetical situations or fictional problems like ‘how do you move a mountain’ to check their problem solving capability which often are not reflective of the real job and often trip up good people and also causes an interviewer who is expected to make up their mind in an hour about the person to err on the side of being careful by rejecting the candidate unless he/she is a standout.
Additionally, the experience of working through these recruitment agencies as a consultant definitely bumps up the skill and experience level of a contractor by quite a few notches as discovered by Jake Tibbert at GMU. Chalk it down to ‘getting a read of the course’, confidence, knowledge of tools, interviewing experience or just ‘how things are done’ at the company- but these are skills that would be hard to pick up someplace else. This becomes a huge plus if the contractor is invited to interview for an open position with the same team. He/She now becomes an 'insider' with several interviewers potentially rooting for them because they have added perspective of the person having worked with them.
No hiring manager or recruiter at any company would admit (at least publicly) that the bar may be different for a contractor that worked for them but you can be sure that at least the initial ‘hurdles’ like college or company pedigree are overcome and at least somewhere in the back of the interviewer’s mind you may have an edge over an ‘outsider’ interviewing for this role.
So while not every contractor can ‘convert’ to FTE, you might want to try a contract role at your dream company and see how it goes. Start out by looking up which staffing companies place contractors at your dream company and get connected with the recruiters there using OnContracting. You can also help us by letting us know any information you have about contracting so we can share this with others. Help us also get the word out by tweeting, liking us on facebook or sharing on LinkedIn using the icons above. Email us at marketing <at> oncontracting if you’d like to write a blog on our website and get your views to a leading contractor community in Seattle.