Dear Matt: I’m considering a six-month temporary contract role, but with no guarantee I will be hired permanently, I want to continue searching for a full-time job. How do I approach this with the company I may contract with and any company where I may be offered a permanent, full-time job?
Matt says: This situation is not unusual, but how you handle it from the start is key, says Robin Silverman, Senior Consultant, Talent Management, with the Edina office of Right Management (right.com), a global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions.
“The most important thing is to be honest with yourself in terms of your own needs and with any potential employer,” says Silverman.
If a project employee is looking for full-time employment and decides to leave before the contract is up, this puts the company in a very difficult position. But whatever you do, don’t bring up your desire to seek full-time employment until the contract job offer has been extended. That’s when you can ask about these details, says Silverman:
• Ask how the project is tied to business strategy. This will let you know the value that you and this work have in their future plans.
• Be honest and tell them that you are interested in landing a full-time, permanent job.
• If you want the full-time job to be with them, ask if there might be opportunity in other areas of the company if your project work can’t or won’t become full-time when it is complete.
• If there is little or no guarantee that the work will become permanent, let them know you will be continuing to interview, but that you will not allow it to interfere with the results for which you have been contracted.
• Ask if the work can be done from your home or if you need to be in the office at set times. If the work can be flexed, then you should be able to interview for jobs when you need to — as long as you meet the expectations and obligations of your contract employer.
Before signing the contract, clearly understand the ramifications of leaving before the contract runs out. Consider consulting an employment attorney to understand the fine print.
If you are offered a full-time job with a new company before the contract runs out, discuss the option of starting that job after your current temporary contract expires. Your ethics and honesty should impress that employer and unless the need is urgent, they will likely hold the job for you, says Silverman.
If you leave in the middle of a contract, realize you may never work for that company again.
“Be a partner to any employer, temporary or permanent,” says Silverman “Always do your best work, regardless of the length of time you’re with a company. And read the fine print of any contract before signing.”
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