Finding a Job

Breaking into Full-Time Work with a Contract Background

Sep 1, 2020

By: Jennifer Herrity

Jennifer Herrity is a career coach at Indeed and has worked with jobseekers from various industries over the last 10 years. She creates content to help people navigate their career challenges with tools and techniques she has shaped through practical experience.


Working in temporary or contract roles can have many benefits including a flexible work schedule, the ability to increase your qualifications, or determine your compatibility with a company or role before making a long-term commitment. With the opportunity to work in a variety of roles such as sales, marketing, tech, administrative services, project management and seasonal retail, it’s easy to see how so many people accept temporary and contract roles each year.

After working in temporary positions, there may come a point in your career where you're ready to make the transition to full-time employment. Recruiters and hiring managers often seek candidates who have demonstrated job stability for long-term roles. This signals your ability to commit to a position and meaningfully invest in both your and the organisation's growth. Throughout the hiring process, you can also address how the short-term roles you've held make you a valuable candidate.

Here are several milestones throughout the job search you can use to address your desire to transition from temporary to full-time work:

Cover letter

A well-written cover letter allows you to tell a compelling story about why you are applying for a role and why you are the best candidate. Your history working in temporary or contract roles should not be the main focus of your cover letter, but proactively addressing short-term work experiences can answer a recruiter’s questions about your job stability.

Here are three ways you can address your history working in temporary roles in a cover letter:

  1. The introductory paragraph of a cover letter is a good place to state your intention. In this section, clearly state your interest in contributing long-term to a company and that you’re excited that the opportunity at their company would allow you to do just that.

  2. Your second paragraph can be used to highlight how working in roles at various companies has given you experience relevant to their position and makes you suited to perform well.

  3. In the conclusion, indicate that through working in contract or temporary roles you’ve been able to work in diverse environments with highly skilled individuals. From this, you’ve gained a unique perspective and well-rounded workstyle that you are now ready to apply in a company where you can really grow.

Here is an example cover letter:

Dear Recruitment Manager,

I am writing to express my interest in the administrative assistant role at ABC Company. I would look forward to the opportunity to provide a high level of support to a company where I can see myself grow.

I am drawn to this opportunity for several reasons. First, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles, most recently in my current job as an administrative coordinator. A highlight from my time here was when I proactively stepped in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. I arranged travel and accommodation for a group of 15 executives from across the company, organised meals and activities, collaborated with our internal events team, and ensured that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. I performed similar functions in two prior contract administrative assistant roles, taking on a higher level of responsibility at each company I worked with.

I am also attracted to this role because of the growth opportunities that ABC Company provides. After researching your company, it’s apparent that this is a company where self-motivated individuals like myself can thrive. Having worked in several contract positions, I’ve been able to sharpen my communication skills and can now adapt to effectively communicate with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. I’m now looking forward to applying the experience I’ve gained to help a company achieve its long-term goals, and I believe this role offers me that opportunity.

I look forward to sharing more details of my experience and motivations with you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Amy Tan

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Professional summary on CV

Recruiters typically review your CV from top to bottom, so set the expectation that you’re looking for a full-time position by creating a strong professional summary. Because the professional summary appears at the beginning of a CV, this section allows you to make a positive first impression on the recruitment manager. Take the time to write a one to two sentence summary that describes your goals, relevant experience and specifically mentions you’re looking to work long-term for a company where you can grow professionally.

Here is an example professional summary:

Highly motivated sales professional seeking a full-time sales assistant position with ABC Company where I can contribute my strong customer service and negotiation skills. I bring three years of retail sales experience and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Work experience on CV

To answer any questions a recruiter might have about why certain work experiences are shorter in length, clearly indicate on your CV which roles were temporary by placing keywords like 'seasonal', 'temporary' or 'contract' in parentheses next to the position title. Making this notation within your CV may help address any potential speculation that you change jobs frequently or may not be interested in long-term employment.

Here’s an example of how you can indicate a temporary role within your work experience:
Software Engineer (Contract) I April 2019 - April 2020
ABC Company I Hong Kong

Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a great way to tell a concise, compelling story about where you are in your career and how you can be of value to a company. Consider incorporating a brief explanation into your elevator pitch that addresses why you’ve had to take a temporary or contract position in the past. You should clearly state that the choice to take the short-term role was deliberate and that you valued the experience that the opportunity allowed you to gain over the time you could spend at the company.

Here’s a sample elevator pitch:

'Hi, I’m Jamie. I’ve spent the last three years learning and growing in my role as a Software Engineer, where I’ve been mainly working in Fin-Tech, coding in Java. I’ve recently been working on developing a mobile banking infrastructure for a small bank. I accepted the role knowing it was a limited contract because I was very interested in the experience the opportunity offered me. Now I’m looking for a company with a full-time position where I can expand on this experience, and it sounds like this role with your company could be a great fit.”

Common interview questions

Since many recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates that are going to provide long-term value to a company, it's important to be prepared to answer interview questions that address your longevity in past roles.

Here are some common interview questions to practise answering that can address your history in temporary roles:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • Why did you apply for this position, you seem to prefer temporary positions?

As you prepare your answers, consider indicating that while working in temporary roles has allowed you to learn to work in a variety of environments with groups of diverse individuals, you’re now craving stability in your career. When stating what you're looking for in a company or why you’re looking to make a change, focus on highlighting the positive attributes this new, full-time role would offer you – the opportunity for long-term growth or access to benefits like retirement plans, insurance, paid leave and sick leave.

Additionally, consider practising answers to follow-up questions that the interviewer may pose to verify your interest in working at their company long term. Some suggested questions to practise answering include:

  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • How do you think you’ll adjust to the transition?

Finding full-time remote work during COVID-19

Given the impact of COVID-19, you may be interested in exploring sustainable work-from-home opportunities that can easily accommodate healthcare guidelines. Here are some steps to help you explore and identify full-time remote job postings on Indeed.

  1. Create a free Indeed account. That way, you can save job postings, apply to saved jobs once you’re ready, and you can track your application status.

  2. Target remote work with Indeed Job Search. In the 'what' box, enter keywords like remote, work at/from home, home-based, telecommute or cyber commute.

  3. Select 'Full-Time' in the 'Job type' dropdown list.

  4. Stay up to date with targeted Job Alerts. When you create Job Alerts, Indeed provides regular email updates about new positions that fit your criteria. You can create multiple alerts for different search criteria and select how frequently you want to receive emails about new postings. It’s also easy to pause or delete alerts.

An additional tip if you’re using Chrome is to use the Indeed for Chrome extension to get alerts from your internet browser.