All those many years ago, whilst at law school, I had the halcyon image in my mind that had been consistently placed there by too many episodes of LA Law, Boston Legal and, yes, even Ally McBeal, sadly. This image included a busy, yet manageable, training contract at a City firm, earning big wedge. I would then move up into an associate position, where I would be prepared to “work hard, play harder” (!) and get paid handsomely for it. After only a few years of this, partnership (and a life on the golf course) would beckon and I would be all set and sorted. Summers spent golfing in Portugal, winters on the slopes of Val d’Isere, all before I was 40 – this life of a lawyer sounded pretty good.
I think, I *think*, something went a little awry along the way. My training contract did come to fruition, although not quite how I planned it. This associate position also proved rather elusive, too. Plus, I haven’t had a permanent job since 2009. And you know what – I couldn’t be happier about that.
This post was inspired by an article I read a while ago on http://www.recruiter.com. It is a good article by a chap called the prolific writer Kazim Ladimeji , a small business HR and careers consultant in the UK. I will take a rather different approach in my analysis of the temporary vs permanent trend, by merely mulling over my own personal experience and thoughts between the two in the hope that you find it interesting!
Permanent jobs are over-rated. 25 days’ holiday (criminally less in the US), no overtime and the mere possibility of a bonus if the wind has been blowing in the right direction all year mean that this is a not-so-very attractive option for me at the moment.
Additionally, “permanent” is a misnomer, as you probably all know. The days of working in one job for your life are far from reality nowadays. With so much competition in any market place, the human desire for change and the continuing lethargy in the economy, permanency no longer exists. Firms need to make cuts, for a variety of reasons, and those cuts can be brutal. How you – either as a ‘permanent’ employee or a temporary worker – deal with those cuts, should you be directly affected, depends on your viewpoint and on your mindset, which can both make an enormous difference if the blade comes chopping.
How can your mindset help you if you find yourself no longer in employment? Consider the difference between a permanent employee of a law firm and the contract attorney in the same firm. Only the former considers that his or her job is ‘secure’ and, thus, likely makes no plans for the immediate future in terms of job alternatives. The contract attorney, however, is happy with every day that his or her contract continues. He always has one eye on the market to see if there are any other contracts out there to which he could jump if his current project comes to an end or starts to slow down. So long as he has adapted so as to not feel the ‘stress’ that can be induced with temporary contract work, then his mindset is perfectly adapted to deal with impending unemployment should his project come to an end on short notice. He can then easily call around a few recruitment agents and (hopefully) find himself on another temporary project before the week is over. Contrast this with how a permanent employee might deal with a redundancy or being fired. In all likelihood, his world will feel like it has caved in, he may feel embarrassed and ashamed and will spend a good amount of time in shock.
As temporary workers, we’re used to the uncertainty and we use it to our advantage. We have long since determined that no contract (job) is ideal, and so we relish the short-term nature of the projects to which we are assigned. We are thankful for the variety this offers us. Sure, some projects pay less (much less in certain circumstances) than we would like, but over recent years there has always been one around the corner that allows us to put some heavy hours in for a month, and be back on track financially. The world of temporary has relieved us of the mundanity of permanent work and we are thankful for it.
It took me a while to change my mindset (probably about 2 years!) and now I am happy as Larry in my decision to remain in the temporary world. Incidentally, the decision was thrust upon me by the poor job market, but now I actively choose to remain in the temporary market for the time being. I find myself much less stressed with my daily workload. The flexibility that allows me to jump from one project to another is something I am thankful for (be careful with this, though: don’t ‘jump ship’ early from projects too often, otherwise you’ll get a name for yourself), which in turn further drops the stress levels.
Are you in temporary work? What do you think are the benefits it has afforded you as compared with a permanent job? We’d love to hear your thoughts so let us know by leaving a comment below!
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