Your stepping stone back to work

stepping stones300You feel ready to get back into the job market. Well, sort of. If it’s been a while then you may not feel very confident; or you may feel out of touch with new practices or styles of working. It could also be that you want a part time job or flexible working on your terms, and don’t really want to commit yourself to something permanent at this point.

If all this sounds familiar, then maybe interim or contract working is the right career route for you. Interim work is where a business needs somebody to manage an existing project. This could be for a range of reasons, such as maternity cover, change management, restructuring or a merger or acquisition.

What’s the difference?

Contract work is when you become part of an organisation for a specific period of time. This could be to run a project or work with a team to help with increased workload. Unlike an interim hire, you are, more often than not, treated as an employee, which means you join the payroll and are entitled to sickness, holiday and pension. Contractor project periods tend be for longer than interim jobs and can, potentially, lead to a permanent job.

If you’re making a comeback, then interim or contract work can be a good stepping stone and a great way for you to find your feet again. You can work for a range of organisations to build-up your skills-base and increase your confidence. This also allows you to bring your CV up to date – particularly useful if you’ve been on a career break for a while.

What do employers want?

With this style of working, employers are looking for maturity and experience as they will need somebody who can hit the ground running. Being over-qualified is a good thing. Again, a great way to build up your skills and confidence when making your comeback. It’s also a chance to get a ‘feel’ for an organisation before committing to an offer of permanent employment.

Is there a career path?

Being an interim or contractor is also ideal for career development. If there is a particular skill-set you want to improve or acquire, then you can choose your next project to focus on that skill-set. If you’re the sort of person who gets bored easily, then changing companies and locations will also keep you engaged as no two jobs are the same. You can also choose when, and how often you want to work. If you need part time or flexible working then this can also be negotiated.

So what’s the catch?

All sounds great doesn’t it? But interim and contracting does have its drawbacks. This route will not guarantee job security. Interims don’t usually qualify for sickness, holiday or pension schemes. It also means there is a risk of being out of work for periods of time until the next project comes along. You will need to plan your finances accordingly. Not only that, but with a permanent job, you can be forgiven for having the odd ‘off’ day; as an interim or contract worker you won’t really be able to do this - employers expect you to always be at your best.

There are many positives to being an interim worker or contractor, however, and these can outweigh the downsides, but planning is crucial for a successful career in these fields. Staging your comeback needs preparation and financial planning, and once you have made sure you have addressed these areas, the sky’s the limit!

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