Warm weather brings a spike in business activity and as a result, increased workloads for many organizations. In order to meet demands, current headcounts are supplemented with interns and short-term help. While interns are considered potentials for future employment, short-term help may be viewed in a different manner.
Home for summer break, college students from all majors take whatever job they can find to fund their activities and save up some cash for their eventual return to school. As they are college students, recruiters and hiring managers assume they are competent enough to handle administrative tasks or general labor responsibilities. These aren’t long-term hires, so it may also be assumed that the normal pre-employment testing and screening process isn’t necessary. Students are given filing and data entry work or perhaps a shop or warehouse position. At the end of the summer, they go back to school and your company is just another “life experience” on their resume.
I work for a large manufacturer and our main plant is across the street from our corporate office. The plant hires everything from general laborers to welders and supervisors. They have their own Human Resources professionals and the hiring processes are different than what we have at corporate. They also hire for industrial and mechanical engineers for quality, process and similar positions. At corporate I look for civil and construction engineers as construction is the industry in which our products are applied and our engineering services are applicable.
During his sophomore year, “Eric” a student from a local university applied, along with many others, for one of the open summer labor spots. As the plant manager also was in charge of facilities and maintenance, there was a need for an assistant to the groundskeeper to help maintain our campus over the summer. Eric was an extremely reserved, but wholesome kid, and we saw him around the corporate building doing various tasks, though he never introduced himself. He did so well, he was brought back over breaks and again the following summer.
In the fall, I attended the engineering career fair at the local university. Looking polished in a nice suit, Eric walked up to the booth and handed me his resume. He, apparently, was going to be a civil engineer! Impressed by our company culture and the way he had been treated as a part-time worker, our organization was his first choice. I was completely floored that I had a potential long-term fit right under my nose and I didn’t even know it. Assuming, as summer landscape and maintenance help, he was not a fit for anything we might hire, no one bothered to find out more about him. If it had been a terrible work experience for him, he would not have considered working for us. Luckily, that was not the case.
The point is, pay attention to what’s right in front of you. Each and every employee, whether just for the short-term or part-time, deserves the proper attention of a potential long-term fit. Even if you don’t see where they might be placed within your organization at that time, keeping in touch with them after they leave your company, finding out what they graduated with and what their plans are might provide with you with a great bench candidate for future openings. Make sure short-term help is not treated like short-term help and the great impression you make now may provide you with a future hire. The advantage is that this employee knows the company culture already and understands the environment. When they show interest in the future, you’ll know it’s because they actually want to work there and not just because they want any job.
Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.