Sterling News

News and insights for job seekers and hiring managers.

Direct Hire, Contract, Contract to Perm: Understanding your Options

Whether you’ve been looking for a new job for weeks or months or you’re considering making a change in your career after years or decades in one industry, you might not be sure what you really want to do next. There are so many options when it comes to employment! Here’s a guide to what different employment options mean to help you determine which path you might want to take right now.

Direct hire:

This is what most jobs have traditionally been: You apply for a position at a company and someone from that company reviews your resume, decides to bring you in for an interview and then hires you on as a member of the team. Congratulations! This form of employment still exists and represents the majority of careers, but there’s a wrinkle you should know about: Did you know many companies are working with recruiters to help speed the hiring process? They partner with staffing agencies like Sterling Personnel, working with recruiters to help find the best candidates for their open positions. Recruiters will go through their database of job candidates to find people whose background and skills are in alignment with what the company is looking for, sending those resumes forward to the company and, as a result, getting priority reviews from decision-makers in the company. At the same time, recruiters might help post the position on other job boards and websites, in addition to the company’s page, to help cast a wider net to find qualified candidates. In any case, the decision ultimately resides within the company, and the person hired — even if they were brought forward by the staffing company — is a direct employee of the company, not through the staffing agency. The downside to this kind of job is that if it’s a role you haven’t had before, you might feel guilty if it’s not a good fit and feel like you have to stick it out to give the company a certain amount of time before looking for another job.


Sometimes, companies need to bring in specialists for a particular project, one that’s outside the scope of their regular expertise. Other times, companies will look to hire employees for a certain length of time, typically about a year, to work on a specific project. This is where they look for contract employees, ones that are hired by a third-party company or organization. The terms of the contract are made clear through the interview and hiring process and, once the contract is up, the employee might be offered an extension or they might be notified in advance that the contract will not be renewed because the work has been completed. All wages and benefits are paid to the contract employee by the company that hired them, not the one they’re performing the work for, but they will receive a regular salary for the duration of their contract. The downside here is that sometimes contracts get pulled early because funding runs out, leaving contractors high and dry and unemployed without warning.

Temporary positions:

Think back to when malls were thriving and incredibly busy during the holiday shopping season. It’s common practice for retail outlets to hire seasonal employees to help handle this rush — those are temporary employees. They take a job for a certain length of time, which might be a few weeks to a few months. They’re provided some training that pertains only to the work they’ll be expected to do and, for that period of time, they’re direct employees of the company that hired them. For more specialized jobs, if a company is looking to cover for a longer-term absence or medical leave, the company might partner with a staffing agency like Sterling Personnel to help find qualified, skilled candidates who can come in and be productive, contributing members of the team more quickly. This is a great option for people who have some skills but aren’t sure what kind of work they want to do long-term, or if they’re new to a city and haven’t found a permanent job yet. Temporary jobs also give you the chance to try a few different kind of positions and see what fits best! On the other hand, temporary employees often don’t receive the same rate of pay or benefits as permanent employees and, should staffing change mid-assignment, your job might be eliminated with no notice.

Temp-to-perm positions:

Shorthanded for temporary-to-permanent, these kinds of jobs are often opened by companies when they’re considering expanding their team but aren’t sure if they have the full budget in place to do so. Or they might be looking to bring in someone to cover an absence or medical leave while looking for someone to replace another employee who is retiring or leaving their job soon. Like temporary positions, these positions can be viewed as a way to get to know an industry or role for a length of time. The difference is that at the end of this on-the-job interview, the employee and the company get to have a conversation about whether the job should be a permanent one! This gives both the employee and the company the opportunity to determine whether it’s a good match or if it’s time to shake hands and part ways. The risk in taking a temp-to-perm position is that an employee might fall in love with the job but the company could still decide to go with someone else, or decide that this isn’t a role that’s needed on a permanent basis.

Ready to make a change but not sure where to go? Sterling Personnel has a job for you!

If you’re looking to change industries or gain new skills, a temporary or contract position might be a great fit for you! If you like the stability of a more traditional job, direct hire is likely your best bet. If you’re kind of leaning towards a type of job but want to keep your options open a little bit, consider temp-to-perm.

The good news is, if you’re still unsure about what kind of job you want and what type of position is right for you, Sterling Personnel is ready to help! We work with companies to fill all kinds of roles and want to help you find one that fits your life, including the times of day you want to work, the industry you’d like to be in and whether you want something for years to come or just a few months. Take a look at the positions we have open right now, then give Sterling Personnel a call and one of our recruiters can help you start the process. We’re excited for what your future might bring!