Careers: Negotiating Full-Time Employment

If you're looking for a full-time foothold in troubled economic times, part-time work -- particularly in project management -- may be a good start.

If you're looking for a full-time foothold in troubled economic times, part-time work -- particularly in project management -- can be as good (and potentially as rewarding) a start as any, according to IT staffing specialist Robert Half Technology. That's one conclusion of a new survey of North American CIOs that Robert Half conducted earlier this summer.

According to Robert Half researchers, nearly three-quarters -- 73 percent -- of CIOs believe it's "beneficial" to first put prospective employees through their paces as contract workers before bringing them on board as full-time hires.

Robert Half's research is based on a survey of more than 1,400 CIOs in North America. When asked the key question -- "In the current environment, how valuable is it to have a prospective employee work on a project or contract basis as a means of evaluation for full-time employment within your IT department?" -- just over a quarter (28 percent) rated the experience as "very valuable," while nearly half (45 percent) judged it "somewhat valuable." Surprisingly, a quarter deemed it "not at all valuable."

The inescapable upshot, according to Robert Half researchers, is that companies want to try before they buy. "In the current economic climate, companies are understandably cautious and want to avoid costly hiring mistakes," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "Bringing someone in on a project basis allows both the employer and the prospective hire to evaluate whether the position is a fit."

There's an upside for IT pros, too, Robert Half stresses. "Working on a contract basis also allows IT professionals to avoid resume gaps, which can hinder a job search," the Robert Half release points out.

Willmer cites a separate CIO survey in which IT chiefs indicated that unemployment stints of six months or longer could adversely affect a technology professional's career. "Listing active project work on a resume keeps it current, especially for applicants who have experienced recent layoffs. Consulting also enables IT professionals to keep their skills sharp."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.