A contract position is just one of those things in life where people generally come down on one side or the other and love them or hate them. The contract job you may be considering or have passed over without much consideration at all however, may be just what you need, if not what you want.
Due to its definite end date, many people refuse to even apply for these jobs. After all, if you’re feeling stressed out because of the frustration of not being able to land a full-time permanent job, the last thing you want to do I imagine is start working only to know that in a period of time you’ll be right back here going through it all again! But when you close yourself off to this work, you close yourself off at the same time to the many benefits that contract work brings.
I want to point out that by contract job, in this case I mean a job that you’re at for 3 months, six months or a year or so. Let’s leave temporary jobs that only last a day before you start competing again for another article. Contract jobs might be to replace someone on parental leave, taking a sabbatical, a medical leave just to name a few reasons why they occur in the first place. So let’s have a look and re-visit what’s good about a contract job.
1. Experience: A contract job offers you the chance to try a job out that you may have been considering, but aren’t 100% sure is what you want to do for a longer period of time. You may find that you love the job and therefore commit yourself to finding a permanent one doing the same thing. Equally valid however is finding out that it’s not what you thought it might have been, and without this shorter-term exposure, you may have wasted time and money either going back to school to get an education in the field, or spent too much time looking for a job you’d only find out later you don’t enjoy. This experience could be beneficial either way.
2. References: If you’ve been out of work for longer than 6 months, your references are getting stale and losing their impact. Now six months may not seem very long to you or me, but to an employer that’s a long time. And the employer’s opinion trumps what you think – or me for that matter. A contract job therefore provides you with some current reference who can attest to your ability to catch on quickly, perform work as expected, and fill a need. That should be worth something to you.
3. Resume Filler: If you’ve got a gap on your resume, a contract job puts something current on it that will show you are doing something, rather than raise eyebrows and red flags for an employer. You can always explain in a cover letter or better at an interview that you took contract work to remain relevant, to fill in gaps of unemployment, but what you’re looking for is a full-time sustainable job – but that’s at your future interview.
4. Short-Term Buzz: Come on admit it. There are people (and you might be one of them), who can really only put in shorter bursts of energy and creativity before they get bored. And when they get bored, it’s because they think they’ve learned everything they need to know and are no longer challenged. And without a challenge, they are unhappy and start looking for other stimulating work to be done. A contract job with a specific start and end date may be the perfect fit, and these people actually thrive going from contract to contract quite happily.
5. Different Expectations: When you work a contract job, the people around you who are employed full-time often treat you differently. They are more appreciative of what you provide, just being there introduces new blood and a new personality for a defined period of time. So while they may not want to invest much energy getting to know all about you, they certainly appreciate you coming in and shoring up workload issues that they would have to take on in addition to their own work until the person you are filling in for returns. This can make you feel valued and appreciated.
6. Permanent Consideration: As a contract worker, you can now wander on down the hall that’s closed to the public and look at the job postings for internal hires. You can also get access to the online internal hires and see what you couldn’t from the Reception area where non-employees are stopped from passing through. Check with your new employer about conditions under which you may apply for work if you want.
7. Contract Extensions: While it may not be a permanent job, sometimes what happens is that as your current contract ends, another one opens up. If you are interested, you may be their first choice to offer such a contract to, thereby saving them money and time finding someone else.
There are other great reasons for accepting contract work, but for the purposes of this blog entry, I’m running out of the space I allot for an article. Short to say that contracts aren’t for everyone, but more companies than ever are going this way as contracts save them from being saddled with an employee who isn’t a good fit on a permanent basis.