Tips from the career counselor Should I leave my secure job for a temporary position?
Where to go now? Or do we have to part ways?
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Bettina, 40, asks: "I am currently employed on an unlimited basis. The job does not really fulfill me, also the industry is rather traditional. Now I have the specific offer for a two year fixed term position that would really appeal to me. I was approached about this through a network contact, had two interviews and would only need to sign the employment contract. Should I give up the security of my permanent job for it?"
Doris Brenner works as a freelance consultant and coach specializing in personnel development as well as career and outplacement counseling. With a degree in economics, she has many years of experience in technical and management positions in both line and HR roles in the industry.
Doris Brenner is the initiator and founding chairman of the DGfK Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Karriereberatung e.V.
Your need to change careers seems to be very strong if you have already negotiated a concrete contract offer. You write that you were approached about the position through a networking contact. This first shows that not only you, but also this person thinks this job might be a good fit for you, your skills and interests.
Every change of job is associated with a risk
Of course, it means a risk to give up the security of a permanent job for a temporary job. But you should be aware that any job change will involve risk. Because the fact that the Dismissal Protection Act generally doesn’t kick in until six months after a new employment relationship exists means that even if you have a permanent position, you can be terminated in the first six months without giving a reason. So either way, you’re going to have to bite this bullet when it comes to a career change, unless it’s just a change within your current employer.
Inquire about the background of the time limit
First, of course, it would be useful to know why the position is temporary. If it is a fixed-term contract (e.g. a substitute due to parental leave or illness), you have to expect that the employee in question will return after this period and that the position will definitely be filled elsewhere.
However, if it is a fixed-term contract without a material reason, which is generally possible for up to two years, it would have to be clarified what the employer’s motives are. Does he simply want to reduce his hiring risk and keep open the possibility of terminating the contract without restrictions beyond the probationary period? This would mean that, if things go well, a de-termination is possible. Or is it a temporary appointment, which is quite common in the public sector or at research institutions, because the budget funds are only approved for the corresponding duration, for example for certain research projects?? Again, continued employment may be possible if further funds are approved. Speak to the potential employer specifically about this so that you can get more clarity about what your chances are in relation to this position.
What about your employability?
A central question that you should ask yourself revolves around your employability, i.e. your opportunities on the job market. If there is no extension or de-termination after the two years, how do you rate your chances of finding another suitable job? To do this, it is advisable to take stock of your qualifications and skills. It is also important to include consideration of whether the additional experience at the new job will make you more attractive to other employers in two years’ time. This can give you more serenity to find a suitable job again afterwards.
Keep your eyes and ears open
If you decide to take the new position, it is important to keep the fact of the temporary nature of the job in mind from the outset and to make as many contacts as possible in the course of your work that could provide potential starting points. Unfortunately, this is always neglected and many consulting clients cite this building of a viable network as the most important lesson learned from a previous job.
Because the majority of jobs are awarded through contacts. You have experienced yes also with the current place that you were addressed concretely. Another option is to apply to your potential future employer for jobs that are only advertised internally. From this point of view, the temporary position can also be a stepping stone. By doing a good job and also building up a network internally, new perspectives may also arise with this employer. It is important that you look around, express your interest in continuing to work at the company, and also be visible to others. Self-marketing plays an important role according to the motto: Do good and talk about it.
After one and a half years at the latest, you should specifically ask your employer what the situation is with regard to a permanent contract, so that you have sufficient time for an intensive job search. Because if you do nothing, the contract will simply expire.
What does your inner voice say?
Your decision will certainly also depend on your personal circumstances. Questions about your financial situation (are there obligations such as loans to be paid off, people who are financially dependent on you, reserves that you can fall back on in an emergency??) as well as the coordination with your partner will certainly influence your decision.
In the end, this should be determined by how strong your desire is to set a new career course now at the age of 40 and to decide on a job that really excites you. What does your inner voice say? You have more than 25 years of work ahead of you. How do you want to shape it? What about ten years from now, if you just carry on as before?? Will you blame yourself for not taking advantage of an opportunity?
And one more consideration: How secure is your current job really? Can you expect to carry it through to retirement? In our increasingly fast-moving world of work, job security is a questionable concept. Ultimately, you will find your need for security less in an employer and more in yourself. Your skills and your willingness to acquire further qualifications are the main pillars of this process.