You’ve probably never considered a fixed-term contract role due to the lack of job security associated with temporary work.

You’re not alone. The Randstad’s 2019 Employer Brand Research noted that 29% of the respondents in Hong Kong said they were willing to give up at least 10% of their salary in exchange for better job security.

There’s a belief that having a permanent role would give you an “iron-clad bowl”, which in Asian culture refers to an occupation with guaranteed job security, as well as a steady income and employee benefits. This is perhaps why many Asians workers would rather wait for a permanent job offer than take the opportunity to work as a contract worker, even if it’s with an attractive employer.

should ‘job security’ really be a factor to look for?

Lee Weisser, a career counsellor at Careers by Design, said, “Most people are looking for job security, but it’s harder and harder to come by. So the real security comes from knowing yourself, your skills and strengths, and how you can help a company grow and move forward.”

job security in hong kong
job security in hong kong

Digital transformation is disrupting how we work. Many processes in factories and the service industry have been automated by robotics and chatbots. Unless your existing skills are required elsewhere in the organisation or you have made an effort to upskill yourself, you may become collateral damage during the company’s restructuring or cost-cutting exercise.

Even though Asians think a permanent job would give them their precious iron-clad bowl, the hard truth is, many of us don’t even work that long in the same role.

In today’s age, we hardly hear of anyone who works in the same company for more than five years. Most people in permanent roles start looking for new job opportunities after two to three years, especially if their employers are unable to meet their career aspirations or salary expectations.

contractors have job security

The biggest difference between a contractor and a permanent worker is their expectation of when their contributions to the company will come to an end.

Most professional contractors sign a fixed-term contract or agreement to work on a project. This means that they know exactly when they can start looking for their next gig. This may not happen for a permanent employee who is facing the real risk of being retrenched or laid off.

A contract worker shared on Reddit, “I’ve worked for 5 different companies over 15 years in Singapore. The main difference was that the contract job paid more than a permanent one because of the job insecurity. Other than that, the contract terms and conditions were identical to a permanent role. Every contract I was ever on was extended.”

Debbie Brannigan, a contract engineer from Portland, Oregon echoed the same sentiments, "I've been contracting for 26 years and have never been laid off. I find it to be much more secure than staying as a permanent staff somewhere, and getting laid off with no idea how to find work elsewhere."

That said, while some contract workers do enjoy a level of job security, they have to put in more effort to secure their employment compared to permanent staff.

how to have a good job security
how to have a good job security

how to secure your job?

1. deliver impressive results

Employers hire people for their skills. To get your employer’s attention, you need to deliver great work, meet deadlines, work well with the company’s team, integrate seamlessly with the company’s culture and propose new ideas for the business. Take the time to find out what makes you a specialist so that you can continue to promote yourself to future employers.

Contractor workers are more motivated to deliver their best possible work at all times. They do so because good employer reviews help improve their professional reputation, which would mean more job opportunities and employer referrals in the future. If they proved to be a valuable asset to the company, their employer may even offer them a permanent position in the organisation.

On average, about 20% of contractors are converted to permanent staff. However, the conversion rate varies from industry to industry. For instance, there is a higher conversion rate within banking and finance, and a relatively lower rate in the construction and property sector.

This is because many construction and property companies hire contract workers for specific projects, and their skills may no longer be needed after the project is completed. The banking sector, on the other hand, is more likely to convert if they see value in having your skills in the workforce. For instance, a customer experience manager may have started out as a contract staff to develop the framework for integrated banking services, but may later be offered a permanent position to lead the team.

2. build your network

As a contractor, networking is a vital part of your success.

When you join a new company, make an effort to introduce yourself to people, talk about your work and get to know what your colleagues are doing to build new relationships in the organisation. That way, when you’re looking to extend your contract or to convert to a permanent role, you’ll have a network of colleagues who will make strong recommendations to the manager about your value to the company.

It is also important to have good working relationships with your colleagues, as you never know when you’d need them to write you a testimonial or act as your reference for background checks.

You should also make use of opportunities to network with people outside your company, such as clients and service providers. Being in the same industry, it is likely that these people will be able to link you up with a friend or acquaintance when you are looking for your next gig.

You can also connect with other professionals in your industry through websites like LinkedIn. Join groups that have similar work interests with you and participate by posting useful information so you can build a reputation for yourself as a thought leader or expert in the industry. Over time, people will naturally come to you for opinions or to offer you a job!

3. connect with a recruiter

Using a recruitment agency is the fastest way for you to land a new contract job, especially if they specialise in the contracting space. Recruitment agencies like Randstad not only have specialist consultants who help companies find contracting talent, they also offer end-to-end services such as contractor’s leave applications and electronic pay slips.

Instead of spending time sending out CVs to multiple employers and waiting anxiously for a response, you can rely on the recruiter to help pitch your profile to potential employers and set up interviews for you. A good recruiter will also be able to help you prepare for these job interviews, as they know what are the exact competencies and traits that employers are looking for in their ideal candidate.

your job security depends on your capabilities

Anyone can have job security, but this security is dependent on your own skills and hard work. Essentially, your employability is your job security. If you perform well in your job, have a lifelong learning attitude, and know how to sell your skills, you will be employable in the long-run.

Click here to apply to available contracting jobs that you can start working in immediately.

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