With the job market making big strides in the past year, many companies are changing their hiring and retention strategies—and one of their latest strategies has been encouraging their best full-time talent to stay on board by paying out bonuses as late as March. As a result, many IT professionals who would have collected their bonuses and moved on to their job search by now haven’t yet, creating in a slightly different trend in the industry this year: one in which project-based assignments are making up the bulk of available opportunities.
“Bonuses used to be paid out in December or January at the latest, but we’ve observed a lot of companies taking to this new trend lately,” says John Carey, a Director at ES Technology, a division of The Execu|Search Group. “Because of this, the December-January job search rush has been a bit delayed, and many IT professionals who were already in the market are having a hard time finding long-term opportunities.”
Of course, this trend can be frustrating for those looking specifically for full-time, long-term work, but it’s important to stay open to all kinds of opportunities. For example, if you’re looking for a full-time IT job and aren’t making any headway, consider taking a short-term assignment in the meantime. This can help you avoid being unemployed or stalling in a job you no longer feel challenged in. The information technology field is always on the move, so staying unemployed for a while—even just a few weeks or months—can have a negative effect on your marketability.
A short-term contract can help you:
- Keep your skills sharp. Though you aren’t likely to miss too much between now and March, the industry does move fast, and it can never hurt to move with it. By not stagnating between jobs and instead taking a short-term role in the interim, you’ll be giving yourself the opportunity to stay fresh and on your game for when that coveted long-term role appears.
- Show that you’re willing to be flexible. Employers like to see that potential employees are willing to compromise and adapt to certain situations. By taking a short-term role when your ultimate goal is a long-term one, it shows that you’re able to compromise.
- Show that you’re eager to work. Employers typically like candidates who keep going; by not pausing too long between jobs or staying in a job that you’ve learned all you can from, you’re showing that you’re constantly on the move to improve yourself and your career. The fact that you don’t let challenges like a slow job search get in your way will most likely be impressive to an employer, especially in a field that relies so much on troubleshooting and overcoming obstacles.
If your only goal is to get into a position with longevity, also be sure to keep in mind that taking short-term work can help you get your foot in the door. More companies than ever are investing in short-term hires before laying out the money to bring on full-time employees, and in addition, many contract positions can unexpectedly be extended if the company has a need and likes the employee enough.
“Oftentimes, our clients ask us for a short-term contract hire and realize mid-way through that they need a candidate’s services for longer than expected,” says John. “In these situations, candidates often get an extension on their assignments, and we’ve seen some go on to successfully work with the company long-term as a result.”