Temporary contracts can have a lasting impact
As the job market changes and temporary contracts become increasingly popular, it is important to know how to make the most of your time in a company.
There has been a marked shift in the relationship between organisations and employees. Many businesses are trying to remain lean and agile in times of economic uncertainty. As a consequence, we are seeing a rise in the number of temporary contracts issued by both large and small businesses, which are driving job seekers into the short term role market. This is not just at the intern level or admin functions, but increasingly at more senior levels. These contracts give businesses the flexibility to keep a core full time workforce. They can then just hire freelance staff or others on temporary contracts to meet short term spikes in workload, or seasonal needs.
Women are more likely than men to be employed on temporary, short term and zero hours contracts.
Temporary contracts serve to reduce a company’s overheads and salary bills. They are very often seen as a trap rather than a stepping stone. This is not to be confused with the gig economy where organisations run exclusively on temporary gigs or zero hours contracts, yet workers are on call on a daily basis. Read: The Gig Economy, the face of underemployment
DOWNSIDES OF TEMPORARY CONTRACTS
Janice took a career gap to raise her children before they were of school age. Now she is ready to return to the workplace. She was dismayed that the only role she could secure was on a temporary contract to cover a maternity leave opening. Disheartened, she turned to coaching for how she can maximise the opportunity to either extend her contract with the existing organisation, or leverage it to secure a second one with another company. Her concerns are not unfounded. There is no doubt that temporary contracts carry a downside.There is frequently no training or on-boarding, with limited opportunity for growth and personal development. Objectives may be vague and sometimes the role can be the dumping ground for all the tasks the permanent employees don’t want to do themselves. There can be few incentives and feedback limited, so I understand why they can appear challenging.
Rachel was made redundant almost a year ago. She has turned down a number of temporary contracts, holding out for a permanent role. In today’s market it can still be easier to find a job from a job, so that is a decision that needs careful consideration. There are benefits in temporary contracts and it can be important to seize the moment.
BENEFITS OF TEMPORARY CONTRACTS
Despite how things appear, these roles can offer rewarding learning opportunities. If you work on a temporary contract you can gain exposure to new business sectors, locations and functions. You will learn to on-board rapidly, assimilate into a new organisation and gain an understanding of the corporate culture. At the most senior level, these are considered to be separate skills. They are sought after by many organisations who look for such people, specifically to fill openings on an ad interim basis.
It’s important to create a strategy when accepting such a role. But when working on a temporary contract many job seekers make the fatal mistake of putting their overall job search for a permanent role on hold. Or they hope that the short term contract will be rolled over. It may not be.
Here are some tips to make the most of temporary contracts:
#1 SET GOALS FOR THE ASSIGNMENT
Establish goals for the short term contract and be clear how they will fit in with a longer term plan. If you are unclear about what your vision and goals are, download our free Career Reflection Worksheets HERE to help you structure your thoughts.
#2 MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
Be clear on the KPIs for the role, who will be measuring your success and how. Many individuals on temporary contracts say there is much confusion around their function and reporting lines. These should be explained even as early as the interview stage. It’s important that there is a contract that covers the role and lays out the benefits. Many organisations can treat contract workers less favorably than full-time permanent employees, so it’s important to gain clarity around those key issues.
#3 CREATE ALLIANCES
Gaining quick and accurate insight into the unofficial culture of an organisation can very often depend on the relationships forged with peers, reports and senior members of the hierarchy. If you can create a strategic alliance with someone who could become a potential sponsor, so much the better.
#4 NETWORK REFERRALS
Even if the assignment itself ends as contracted, network as much as possible within your temporary home. It is always possible that any of the people you encountered can refer you for other opportunities. They could also give you online recommendations that will be visible within your wider network and to other potential employers.
As organisations offer an increasing number of roles on the basis of temporary contracts, it’s important to maximize the value that can be gained from them, rather than fret about wasting time. There is much evidence that this is how a growing number of organisations are going to be operating in the future.
Many people don’t start thinking about their careers until there is a problem. So take a few moments when you are relaxed, to understand what is important to you. Have our Career Reflections Worksheets delivered right into your in-box. Print them out in the old school way or keep them open on your phone. Use them as a guide to give your thoughts some structure.
Invest some time in yourself! Don’t wait until it’s too late!