“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
– Alvin Toffler

Contract Work Is Gainful Employment in More Ways than One

Many job seekers go about their search with a direct hire role as the endgame. Because of that goal, some people close themselves off to the possibility of taking a contract position. However, they shouldn’t, because contract positions are just a different way to maneuver through the system and gain a satisfying permanent situation.

That short-term assignment can give you access to a great future opportunity, leave you with newly developed skills, expand your network, or give you valuable information about prospective employers. And who knows: maybe that contract position will turn into a permanent one. And even if it doesn’t, and the role remains contract, you will definitely find that you’ve used that time well by building up your experience and professional network.

In any economy, sometimes all you need is just for someone to take a chance on you, and a good way to show that someone your worth is through a contract position.

Playing it safe

Large oil and gas companies, a big part of Houston’s job market, often bring on new talent through contractors, and they aren’t the only ones – a lot of companies use this strategy. Employers view contract hires as a low-risk way to add to their team.

Hiring an employee directly is a big financial commitment because compensation and benefits will add to the company’s overhead. In the end, that direct hire employee might not work out, and the company will find that it has risked a great deal for a small reward indeed. In addition to that, any turnover will prove costly. Because the upfront cost and commitment is less for contract employees, bringing on employees on a contract basis will mitigate some of that risk and cost.

It is often overlooked how much this audition-like method also benefits you as a job seeker. Employees on a contract assignment learn more about the company, department, and job while immersed in the environment than they ever will in an interview alone. It may only be for a while, so treat this job like an extended interview for other potential positions. Make a great impression so they’ll be able to see that you could have a lasting impact in their department and their future. It’s a splendid opportunity to meet managers and understand where you can make a difference.

When you walk onto a contract assignment, you’re walking into an opportunity to stand out. Not only will you be seen as a go-getter, but now you have expanded your resume and, possibly, your collection of excellent professional references.

Playing it smart

Working through a staffing agency will help you find those opportunities to prove yourself through contract work. Establishing a good relationship with the staffing agency you work through can open so many doors. An agency recommending you for an assignment is an agency taking a chance on you, so build that relationship by excelling and proving to the agency that you were a chance well taken.

We’ve had experience with an individual who’d had steady work as a contractor through us, but hadn’t quite landed the dream position. Though she never failed to impress her direct supervisors in her contract positions, and consistently received good feedback, her supervisors did not always have the clearance to take on another permanent employee, however much they would have liked to.

The whole time, this individual built up a relationship of trust with her recruiters, proving that she was both skilled and dependable. So, when a permanent position arose elsewhere, we immediately thought of this candidate and rushed to the phone to sing her praises to the client. Our ex-contractor got her dream job. She’s still there even today.

Because this individual was willing to take on contract work and proved that taking a chance on her wasn’t a risk after all, she was exposed to an opportunity she may not have gotten otherwise.

Making the experience work for you

For many, the ultimate goal of job hunting is to find a company and really invest in the future—both yours and the company’s. Short and long-term contract assignments can position you on the precipice of a great future. And while you are taking a chance on an unfamiliar path, a contract position poses very little risk. In fact, it offers nothing but gain as it holds the potential for a permanent position in a job you already know you can do. And if not that, the opportunity to gain the experience and connections you need to find success elsewhere.

So, in your job search, make sure you remain open to all the chances life offers – the possible rewards are well worth it.