As more companies shift towards having an integrated workforce, more people are also open to contract employment opportunities. Contract work is particularly popular among younger generations like Gen-Z workers and millennials, as it gives them the opportunity to decide their career paths and which organisations they want to work for.
Moreover, fixed-term employment contracts usually last a year, which is similar to a typical career path of a younger worker who tends to change jobs every one to two years.
However, the issue of job security in contracting worries some, especially during volatile times. We understand that, and would like to walk you through the career path for a professional contractor and how it could look like in the long-term.
the start: applying for a job
Employees apply and accept a contract job because of four reasons.
- An opportunity to work with an attractive employer. Some job seekers look for multinational companies or prestigious firms to work for, as the working experience can open more doors for them in the future.
- Earn quick cash. The interview process for a permanent job takes about 3 to 6 months, depending on the number of interviews and the seniority level of the position. However, the interview process for contract roles is about 3 to 6 weeks. This means that job seekers are able to secure employment quickly and earn income faster.
- Returning to work. Some people may return to the workforce after taking a break due to personal reasons. Such job seekers include parents with young children, who may have to deal with the new separation anxiety they feel when they leave their kids to work full-time. Having a short-term contract job or a part-time role will help them ease back into the workforce.
- Temporary employment. During volatile market conditions, workers who are let go due to factors beyond their control may start to look at contract jobs as a way to earn some income and tide through the difficult period.
Many job seekers engage the help of recruiters to find a fixed-term job. Recruitment agencies have specialised consultants who help companies look for professional contractors. When you work with recruitment consultants like us to build your contracting career, we’ll ensure that you’ll be able to find an opportunity quickly and with the right employer.
Fixed-term contracts are typically for a year (or 12 months). If your contract term is too short, you might find that you will not benefit from the role as it doesn’t give you enough time to familiarise yourself with the work you do. While you may get the job done, it could be done better if you had more time.
Therefore, we’d recommend looking for a contract job that is at least six months long. This would give you enough time to learn on-the-job and establish new relationships.
your contract period
1. improve your professional networking
When you start working in a new office, don’t just hide behind your computer. Networking is a crucial skill that you need to develop. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to your immediate team members and other colleagues whom you see in the pantry. Whether it is catching them up on your progress or sharing what you did over the weekend, make sure you develop good relationships with your boss and co-workers.
You should also take the opportunity to network with people outside your company, such as your clients, suppliers and consultants. If they’ve had an enjoyable time working with you, there is a high chance that they will want to engage you when your contract ends.
Most importantly, you should use the opportunity you have when working with new people to learn new skills and perspectives to enhance your expertise.
2. give your best performance to the job
Sometimes, people get complacent in a permanent role. It’s easy to just let things cruise, especially during low periods such as December and January. However, it’s vital that a contractor not only meet expectations but exceed them. This means that you have to meet deadlines, contribute new ideas and show a conscious effort to interact and integrate with the team.
Contractor workers who perform beyond expectations are also usually awarded a completion bonus.
However, the best reward a contract worker can receive could be a contract extension, the opportunity to be converted to a permanent staff, or be headhunted by your next employer. Your professional reputation will improve when you receive recognition for your work ethics and quality. With a positive reputation, you can be assured that there will be a steady stream of new opportunities. Therefore it’s incredibly vital that you always make the best effort to deliver what you have committed yourself to.
ending your contract
As a contractor, we recommend you have a chat with your manager approximately two months before your contract ends.
If you’ve delivered a great performance and enjoyed the working experience at the company, bring evidence of that to your manager. This is your opportunity to ask if there’s a possibility for a contract extension or conversion to a permanent employee.
On the other hand, if you’d like to continue your contracting career with a different company, get in touch with your recruiter and ask him to set up interviews for you with prospective employers. You can also tap into your network – both inside and outside your current company – and ask them if they know anyone who would be interested in hiring someone like you, or better still, if they can recommend you to a potential employer.
start the job search cycle again
Like we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, the job search cycle of a contract worker is not that different from a permanent staff.
Contractors know when they have to start looking for a new job opportunity. A permanent employee often doesn’t know when they would want to change an employer, until they do. When they do so, they will have to start browsing for jobs online, go for interviews and sign employment contracts, just like a contractor.
As COVID-19 and any other economic downturns have shown us, there is no confirmation of whether or not your job is stable. It all depends on supply and demand. If your skills are no longer in demand, or if your job has changed drastically because of digital transformation, you’ll need to upskill yourself to ensure your employability.
Do your best to build a good professional reputation and put in effort to network to help land your dream job.
Connect with us if you need help deciding if a contract job is right for you.