If you’re a Northwest employer chances are you’ve already tried some version of the temp to hire staffing model.   There are many ways you can “try before you buy”!

Pre Covid, the Northwest candidate marketplace was not just highly competitive, but was giving busy HR departments challenges for which there were no easy solutions.  In some cases it was taking HR months to find and hire the right employee…when what the business needed was a hire now.

Historically, Northwest employers had turned to a temp to hire hiring model because it represented a solution that could be put in play in days, not weeks.  While not always the staffing solution HR teams would choose, it was a solution that worked.  Local staffing agencies, like PACE Staffing Network, were able to put their considerable recruiting power to work delivering the candidates our clients needed for quick, easy hire.

In today’s marketplace there are several ways for Northwest employers to use the temp to hire staffing model….

The Traditional Temp to Hire Staffing Model

The original version of temp to hire was based on the premise that an employer would be hiring and wanted to use an auditioning process to make sure “they got it right.”  This model and the reasons for it continues to be popular even though it has gone thru multiple iterations since it reach its peak of popularity in in the early 2000’s.

The basics of this model uses a  third party (temporary) staffing agency to find and vet candidates that fit the profile of a candidate they would hire directly.  The client interviews, selects the candidate they ‘want to hire”, and then asks the temporary staffing agency to employee them for the first 30-90 days of employment – a period of time that came to be known as the “auditioning” period.

The traditional temp to hire staffing model operates more like an extension of an interview – typically with a defined period of audition, coupled with the promise of a hiring decision at the end of the audition.

Employers use the traditional temp to hire model when …

Iterations of the traditional model have involved…

Whenever a position requires a specific set of “soft skills” not easily detected thru an interview process, the traditional temp to hire hiring model tends to find its place.  If a specific role had a pattern of early term turnover, the temp to hire model got a very close look.

According to our data, employers using the traditional temp to hire staffing model ended up hiring 85% of more of their auditioning temps.

The More Strategic Version of Temp to Hire

The more strategic version of the temp to hire staffing model has become increasingly commonplace in today’s marketplace – primarily used by employers dealing with a high impact staffing needs, an adequate budget for temporary staff, but a restricted budget to add FTE.   These are employers who need important work done, but are concerned about hiring too many employees in the event a change in the marketplace might require a change or cut back.

Unlike the traditional temp to hire model, the strategic model doesn’t vet  its auditioning employees for direct hire and there is no promise that they will be hired as a condition of starting their assignment.  What is in place and what is openly discussed is that they have a hiring strategy that promises  that when its time to hire, their “temps” will be the first to be considered.     

From an agency’s perspective, the employees put to work as “strategic temps” are employees who have been vetted to be candidates the client “could hire”, are interested in working for the company where they are assigned, and are willing to take their chances that a direct hire will come available at some time during their temporary assignment (typically sited to last  3-6 months.  The only promise they get is that when there are openings, “temps” will be the “first candidates considered.

The strategic versions of the temp to hire staffing model have become very popular, in general, replacing the more traditional version.  For employers the reasons are simple…..

Some employers strategically keep 10-20% of its workforce in “auditioning” mode, ready to be hired when the time is right.  Our data shows that these employers end up hiring 30-35% of their temporary workforce at some point before their assignment ends.    

Many of our healthcare clients have relied heavily on the strategic temp to hire model, particularly when hiring for more administrative or support roles.  These are organizations that,  pre covid,  had ongoing needs for new staff, played against a backdrop riddled with the uncertainties of healthcare.  They favored staffing models that would allow them to grow staff in response to immediate needs without making any long term commitments.  That strategy was reflected in operating budgets with ample $$$ for temporary staff,  but no $$$ to add to core staff.

In the broader marketplace, the  strategic version of the “temp while hiring” staffing model has become increasingly popular – fueled by an over heated candidate marketplace pre covid.  Hiring Managers could no longer wait for HR to fill a vacancy created by the loss of a key employee, which for some key roles, was taking months just to get a candidate to review.

Hiring managers were forced to find alternative solutions…..and staffing and recruiting agencies like PACE stepped in.   While a client could simply ask us to send a temp while they looked for a core employee, we knew that if we sent the right “temp” the chances of them being hired would be high.

These short term “interim” roles represented one more version of the “temp to hire staffing strategy, in this case allowing employers to keep the trains running during those extended periods when finding the right employee was taking longer than hoped.  Interim employees had to be screened for their technical competence, their ability to do and lead, but not necessarily their long term fit.

 As example, the demand for “interim” leaders in high impact groups like sales, marketing, customer service, or HR, has increased dramatically.  These are roles designed to keep teams and processes in place while an employer did the work to find the “right” long term solution.   Many of these “temps” ended up being that “right” long term solution.    

Which temp to hire staffing model will work the best for you?

It depends.  Many Northwest employers use temp to hire strategies sparingly, others use all versions whenever they can.

Finding the right third party agency partner is key to tapping into all options and making the best out of the model you select.    There are “temps” who have the skills to simply do the work you need done, and then there are  “temps” who turn into great candidates for hire.  The right agency will know the difference plus help you identify the best way to tackle your particular staffing or business challenge.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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