Ask LH: How Can I Turn A Temporary Job Promotion Permanent?

Ask LH: How Can I Turn A Temporary Job Promotion Permanent?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve been acting in a senior role for four months, and I’ve just been extended until February next year. The position has not been advertised (the last person in the job retired) but I have the feeling it will be sometime early next year. What can I do to help secure the job full-time? It would be a big pay rise from my previous job, and I have managed some good wins in the last four months. Any advice? Thanks, Please Promote Me

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Dear PPM,

Our most important advice? Now is not the time to be shy. If your employer is contemplating advertising the position, you need to make it clear that you’re interested in taking on the role permanently. If you don’t, there’s a risk that your failure to speak up might be interpreted as a lack of interest in the full-time role. Flagging your intentions early can also save your employer the hassle and expense of advertising for applicants.

We know: in some organisations (especially government and pseudo-government workplaces), vacancies have to be advertised even if there’s a clear internal candidate in mind. But even in that case, expressing enthusiasm early makes sense.

The other crucial step you can take is preparing a report describing how you would improve and enhance the role. As an acting senior worker, chances are you’ve been following the exact processes used by your retired predecessor. That’s appropriate when filling in, but if you aspire to a permanent role, you need to identify how the job can be done better.

Workplaces aren’t static; needs and methods change. If you can identify areas where that could happen, you’re helping to strengthen the case for putting you in that position, both by demonstrating your understanding of current needs and by matching those to the bigger business picture. Don’t make this too lengthy; you don’t want to create a document that will be a huge time sink for your bosses.

The worst-case scenario from speaking up is that you’ll find out your employer doesn’t think you’re qualified for the position. If that’s a question of specific credentials, you can investigate whether you can study for those while doing the job. If they simply think you’re not adequate — unlikely given your current role — then at least you know it’s time to start looking elsewhere. And if you get told “yes, the job is coming up, but you’ll have to apply like everyone else”, you’ll have advance warning to tidy up your resume and start preparing your application.

If readers have additional stories or strategies to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments.


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  • For a government job, chances are you will have access to the position description and selection criteria. If there’s an aspect of the job or a selection criterion that you haven’t performed whilst acting in the role, now is the time to try and hit those to ensure you tick all the boxes.

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