By Mark Carriban, managing director, HR Recruitment Business
Q I have three years’ HR experience gained in many areas and sectors, but in short-term posts. How do I sell myself on the positive aspects of the experience I have gained? The short-term nature of the contracts has been cited as a reason for not getting new jobs. My current role is again contract, but for 18 months.
A We meet a lot of candidates who have been working in interim, short-term roles. Your success in gaining a more permanent role will depend on how you position your skills to your future employer.
It’s important to highlight the skills you’ve gained. By working on short-term projects, you’ve proved you work well to deadlines, you’re a strong project manager, and that you are a flexible individual who can adapt to different working cultures. You’ve also shown that you are focused – the employer wouldn’t have recruited you if they didn’t think you could add value within a short period of time.
Emphasise that your choice of short-term project work was a means of broadening your skills. You have experience of many different workplaces and have proved yourself a flexible and adaptable individual as a result.
Potential employers may question whether you are going to stay in the role or get itchy feet after three to six months. Make sure you convince them that it was your conscious decision to do project work. Reassure them that many people follow an interim career because of a change in circumstances or a lifestyle choice, rather than because they have been forced out of full-time work.
You must also convince your future employer of why you now wish to take a permanent role. Provide references from your previous companies, and don’t forget to highlight any instances where you were asked to work longer than the contract stipulated, as this bodes well for long-term employment.
Your next contract lasts for 18 months. The fact that this is longer than some of your earlier contracts will show you have staying power and are prepared to commit to one company for a reasonable length of time. After this contract ends, you will be in a stronger position to secure permanent work.
Finally, think about how you sell your experience on your CV. An opening paragraph explaining how you have gained broad experience in a variety of project-specific roles, and are now looking to settle in a permanent role, will look more positive than a long list of job titles and employers, which could be mistaken for job-hopping.