The plan used to be that if you did not know what you wanted to do after graduating from college, then you could temp for awhile. You could try on different jobs and figure out what you liked without making a commitment. It could take you a few weeks or a few months, and all the while you would be earning some money.
That plan or blueprint has changed in these times of recession. More and more, the jobs offered out there are listed as “temp, ongoing” or “temp to perm.” Employers are trying out the candidates that they choose to hire without investing a great amount of money in terms of pay or time in terms of training. If it works out, you may be hired from a temp position into a permanent one. However, this means you have to be willing to take a gamble: low pay and no benefits now for higher pay and benefits later. You also need to hit the ground running. Offices are running very lean these days, with a few people doing a lot. People who temp or do contract work often feel as if they keep having to “start all over again,” paying their dues to get into a better-paying position.
How you perform your job is important. It can be tough in a temp position because the permanent people may feel like there is no justification in investing time to help you learn the ropes. It is also difficult to live on a low salary while trying to figure out how to pay for basic things such as health insurance and health care. However, if you want to be considered for a higher-paying, more permanent position, you have to do the job well.
This is a situation where a strong resume can help you. A resume not only gets you an interview. It can also help you negotiate your way into a more permanent position. Combine a strong job performance with a resume that illustrates that you have the education and skills to perform a higher level, permanent position. Watch for on-the-job information that you can use to make you a compelling choice. You may have skills on your resume that you are not using in your temp position now; however, you need to highlight those skills that make you a valuable asset to the company, so valuable that they will want to keep you on permanently.
Is your current contract about to end? Do you have options once it ends? Everybody has things that they believe will happen, but are those options realistic? If not, then you should start to develop some specific options and have them available by a certain date. Your contract is ending so you need multiple options in case one, or all of them, falls apart.
Your career obviously has options if you’re working on a contract basis, so start searching for the options that fit with your skill set. How many working professionals actually have a clear-cut set path that they would like to follow? How many options do your coworkers have after their job ends?
If you do not have any options once your contract ends, then you need to start developing some career options quick.
Why do you need career options? The job market is tough, but there are still other things that you can do to broaden your horizons. When you have a long-term contract it seems like you don’t need a long list of options, but if you’re working on short-term jobs, then you always have to keep an eye open for something new.
Your career is like a long winding road trip. You may not know the destination but you know where you started from, you know where you want to go, sure there may be detours along the way, but eventually you will want to have a clear destination. If you don’t have all of your options mapped out, then that should be your top goal. So, what are some of your options after your short-term job ends?
1. You could get another short-term contract
If you’ve always had short stays at companies for contract work, then you might be more comfortable working in this manner. This can be a great way to make money and still have your freedom…if you have the stomach for it. And sometimes it can be hard to find another job if your contract ends quickly.
2. Go for a long-term company
If you’re tired of looking for work every 6 months, then why not find a traditional 9 to 5 job? Depending on your chosen field, you could have many different options in a lot of different companies. If you have an accounting degree you’re basically set to work at any company, as long as they need someone to do their taxes, then you’re their person.
3. Try a different profession
What if you feel stagnant during your current work? It doesn’t mean you have to swear off that type of work forever, but you might want to consider a change of scenery. Moving to a different position within your short-term contract employer may provide other options.
4. Extending your contract
If you and your contract employer have a solid working relationship and you like where you’re at, then why not stay there? They obviously could use your talents, so talk to the HR manager about what can be done.