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Changing norms in the workplace

3 min read

Most Australians are happy to consider doing temporary and contract roles or have already taken jobs that are short-term.

There are misconceptions about doing project-based or freelance roles in the industry.

According to a poll of 13,247 Aussies by recruiting experts Hays, 69 per cent are happy to consider temporary and contract roles. Only 17 per cent said they only look for permanent roles, while a further 14 per cent already work as a temporary or contractor.

“Temporary, contract and freelance workers have certainly become the new normal in workplaces across Australia as employers create flexible workforces,” said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

“Those job seekers who aren’t willing to consider this type of work halve the job opportunities available to them. Even if your long-term goal is to obtain a permanent position, there are many advantages to taking short-term assignments whilst you wait for that opportunity to come along.”

Estimates vary but 30 to 40 per cent of the workforce is now a temporary, contractor or freelancer. However, Hays warned that a number of common misconceptions about temporary and contract jobs remain, including:

It is menial and only for juniors. Long gone are the days when this form of work was reserved for administration and office support roles. Today, many highly-skilled professionals work on assignment in interim executive or senior roles across all job functions and industries.

This work requires experience and expertise. In fact, many jobseekers are attracted to the variety of tasks temporary or contract roles offer, which exposes them to new systems, solutions and ideas, all valuable additions to their CVs.

It is an unstable form of employment. Even though temporary assignments have an end date, they can often be extended. If the approach the recruiting expert is ahead of the freelancer’s end date, he can line up his next assignment in advance. Don’t forget that many employers use temps or contractors to test talent out before they employ on a permanent basis, so it could be one foot in the door.

An outsider to the team. Most people these days have either been a temp themselves or had a temp join their team for a period of time in the past. This means people are accustomed to temps coming and going.

It also means they are open to building lasting professional relationships, giving them the opportunity to quickly build their network to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, hear about relevant job opportunities, receive endorsements and even find new referees.

It’s a dead-end. Assignments offer candidates a broad depth of opportunities, experience and skills development. Freelancers can take assignments that will expose them to new industries, systems, technology and ways of working, which will make them more attractive and employable in future.

Isn’t job hopping viewed negatively on the CV? Make it clear on the CV which roles were temporary assignments or contracts, so that hiring managers know their not a job hopper. In fact, freelancers can use their temp assignments to boost their CV. Employers will set defined outcomes for each assignment and freelancers’ successes in achieving each outcome allows them to add several quantifiable results to their CV in a short period of time.

“Candidates considering this form of working need to be flexible,” said Nick. “You need to be a self-starter who is adaptable and able to quickly fit into new workplaces. You also need to be happy to look for your next assignment when nearing the end of your current one. Some people thrive on that, but others prefer the stability of permanent work.

“So whilst the constant change of moving from assignment to assignment is not for everyone, we find more often than not, people are embracing the career autonomy that temp and contract work offers.”


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