Temporary contract : when it’s a lifestyle choice

Sylvie, Executive Assistant, had the opportunity to accept a temporary contract after having worked for twelve years in permanent positions. So, after 5 years, she has had a series of temporary contracts, appreciating the benefits they provide, even if she is beginning to feel the limits in the last few months. 

In your opinion, what are the advantages of a temporary contract ? 

For 3-4 years, I really appreciated this type of work: risk taking, adapting to change, scheduling, learning new software, etc., as well as the freedom that this type of contract provides.

How do you find your temporary contracts ?

Placement agencies are the best solution for finding temporary jobs, since they often work to meet an emergency (employee illness, accident) and offer positions from 2-3 weeks to 4-5 months. As for companies, they don’t post this type of position on their website, but rather contracts with at least 10-12 month terms to replace an employee on maternity leave, for example. Specifically, I spend 2 to 3 hours for tests with the recruitment agency to validate my different skills, especially those related to office work. Once selected, I will be called to a short interview at the company with the person that I will be working with. Even if you are on file with the agency, you should not hesitate to contact them again a few days before the end of the contract to let them know that you will shortly be back on the labour market, otherwise….  some will forget you. 

How do you get on with relationships with co-workers ?

For the manager, as soon as you arrive in his department you have to be at work. Whether you’re called Jeanine or Sylvie, it makes no difference to him. On the other hand, it is important to build relationships with everyone who can be of assistance, especially in the first few days. Indeed, with training only lasting one to three days, it’s necessary to depend on co-workers to understand the operation, organization, ethics…   You must dare to go and meet them and ask them for clarification about this or that point. An assistant who is too young or timid will struggle to fit in, especially to be quickly effective. He can’t be given 15 days to familiarize himself when the contract only lasts 4 weeks…

What is your assessment after 5 years ? 

Very positive for the first 3 years. There are now two points that lead me to look for a permanent position. On the one hand, the financial instability is a weight that is becoming more and more difficult to manage (How long will it take to find a new contract? Am I not too expensive for the company, taking the placement agency’s costs into account?). On the other hand, I would like to be able to invest in myself for the long term as part of a team. More and more I have a feeling of frustration when the contract comes to an end: I have invested in myself, built and, suddenly, I have to abandon everything.

What advice would you like to give ? 

1-  Don’t start too young to take on temporary contracts, since it’s important to have experience under your belt in order to be comfortable.

2- If you become tired of temporary contracts, know how to grab an opportunity from your employer when he offers a permanent position at the end of your temporary contract!

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