Last year, I realised I hated shopping and didn’t really know what I liked or what suited me; I sat cross-legged on the living room floor, pulled my laptop over and bit the bullet. I ordered one of those “personal shopper in a box” situations. You know the ones that go and put a nice little package together, curated for you with things that someone thinks you might like. I’m in my 30’s and quite frankly…. I’ve no idea what I like or what suits me. Occasionally I go rogue…. seek a dopamine hit and end up in hot pink dungarees. Sometimes I want comfy, snuggly and reliable jumpers. The favourite that I can pull on in the morning, nuzzle into, take a deep breath and start my day. Other times I want something a little more formal and structured.
On reflection, jobs can be like that too. When we contemplate shopping and searching the job market, we aren’t always sure what truly fits. Do we go for the reliable option we are used to or explore new options and styles? Sometimes, the item thrown into a box by chance that we would have overlooked actually becomes the item that makes us feel ten feet tall. Proud. Empowered. Strong.
What IF jobs could be like this? What IF we could shop, try on for size and then decide if we keep it?
Well, we can. Over the last year, as well as trading in my scrubs for formal shift dresses, I’ve been trying on a more formal role. One to explore and consider whether it goes back into the box, is exchanged or gets to hang in the wardrobe of my CV to keep.
Here are my 10 tips of a fixed-term contract: Try the things you may not have taken a chance on.
Taking a step outside your comfort zone may feel daunting, but what if there’s something on your ”to do” list that you’d love to try but don’t want to fully jump into? Fancy a leadership role but not wanting to fully commit right now? Try it on for size. See what you like… or don’t. What you’d ideally tweak. You may well be a natural leader and thrive in the position but like me, have previously seen leadership modelled in a way you didn’t like. Why not give it a go knowing that once your fixed term is complete, you could neatly pack it back into the box declaring it a style that didn’t suit and that’s ok?
- Explore new ensembles. Sometimes, the worry of “What if I don’t fit in?” can be a reason for people not to leave roles where they are unhappy or unfulfilled. Others are at the beginning of careers who don’t want to have multiple roles on their CV early on due to the perceived sense of judgement (we will cover this in a later blog – it’s not a thing anymore) A fixed-term contract gives the opportunity to try new things together, while having a clear end point. Try new skills together, new people, new environments. I had been really worried about working from home and losing the essence of teamwork in clinical practice. A fixed-term contract allowed me to try not only working from home but with new people outside the clinical setting. A setting I had known for the last ten years.
- Not everything in a capsule wardrobe works. Sometimes, not everything in the box or role works and that’s totally ok. There’s an end point. We aren’t going to love everything in every role at all times. It’s to be expected. So, try on the bits you like but give everything a good go. Sometimes, an element of a role will surprise you and you may just find yourself thriving in unexpected ways. Others there will be aspects that you told yourself you “should” work brilliantly and in reality, they don’t. Working from home for example looked like it would give me the autonomy to structure my days. In reality, the lack of structure took some getting used to and I had to learn to be disciplined. I hadn’t considered how challenging this would be.
- Size up or size down. Wanting to downsize or give something bigger a go? Unsure if it’s for you long term? A fixed-term allows an employer chance to fill short term gaps or trial new roles but it’s an excellent opportunity for candidates to size career options up with less risk, and making a big step feel smaller. When I initially applied for my recent role I perceived it to be far greater than me, prestigious even. Terrified and excited in equal measure with clear gaps in my skillset. I didn’t see myself as a candidate who identified with very formal roles. My “small town thinking” was not necessarily the voice the role required. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m glad I took the leap and I’m even more proud to have grown into a role I would have previously excluded myself from. To ask the metaphorical tailor for alterations or my peers if a style may work for me. Simply because I perceived it to be too big for me. I’d have counted myself out and missed an opportunity.
- Alterations are allowed. I AM vile in the mornings. I am not my best self, have far less patience and don’t bring my creativity in a way I am proud of. Pre-coffee and fresh, air the world feels a little beige at best. I know, for an employer, this isn’t the best version of myself to bring. If taking on a fixed-term, this is a great opportunity to get used to asking for adjustments. For me starting half an hour later makes the world of difference. If the fixed-term advert states a 9am start, you can still ask if there is flexibility. As with any role. I’d spent years working nights to mitigate my grinch-like mornings. Working a fixed-term allowed me to trial day shifts before fully committing. That said, 9am didn’t initially work for me to be showing up to meetings and so things were tweaked with me. In time, I adjusted with my workplace. We recalibrated together.
- Sometimes dopamine dressing is just the lift you need. We ALL have times where we need a pick me up. Is work feeling a bit like you’ve been on the tea cups at the fair a few too many times? Do you crave some excitement and exhilaration, just for a little while? Do it! Hunt out the dopamine and return to comfortable knowing that you appreciate your role. It’s ok to go on an adventure even if you don’t want to live there. A ball gown may make you feel flipping fabulous…..you don’t need to want to wear it every day. Some fixed-terms are as short as three months. Don the hot pink dungarees and dance around your kitchen cooking up the most phenomenal career pivot.
- Don’t add it to the floordrobe. Let’s not do this. Simply just no. If it doesn’t fit or suit you send it back. While a fixed-term contract has a clear end point, that doesn’t mean you can’t call it sooner if it isn’t working out. Send the outfit back and find a better fit. A role is only your role for as long as both parties want it.
- Comfort doesn’t always win, but sometimes it does. Let’s be honest, it really isn’t comfortable squeezing into jeans that are far too tight! There, I said it. I know I’m not the only one who has essentially done the macarena with a whole array of colourful words to attempt to fit into jeans I’ve outgrown. Simply to be “successful” to get into the jeans and spend the entire day uncomfortable. We outgrow roles. We kid ourselves that we should continue on, ignoring the discomfort. because we’ve invested a lot in the outfit. Throw the damn jeans away. Try something new on for size. In a fixed term role, you needn’t worry about how you’ll be perceived if you leave. Complete the contract and leave knowing what’s right for you.
- Some things are timeless (when you need to expend less brain power on work?) Nuzzled amongst your options, a simple, understated number. The “shift dress” of capsule wardrobe. Versatile. An option that works with family life, with enough wiggle room to be able to get out and about but enough structure to know what is expected day to day. One that conforms to expectation and gives you what you need. Nothing fancy. Just right. Some options really are timeless and they shouldn’t be shunned. Perhaps, after trying predictable on for size you grow to love it. No longer looking for quick fixes perhaps it’s time to settle comfortably in to timeless. A fixed-term contract may have a fixed end date initially but that doesn’t mean it can’t become the very staple you needed all along.
- It’s ok to return to old faithfuls. And then, having explored the options, what if we realise we really did love what we had all along? While twirling in a electric blue, fancy silk gown….what if the thrill of exciting doesn’t make us happy after all? Those gorgeous aspirational heels seen in glossy magazines are quite uncomfortable and sustainable only for short periods of time. What if the models seen on daytime TV actually longed for what you had/have? What if, after playing dress-up and exploring options you find yourself reaching for what you had all along? And so, with a smile and a deep breath, you pack away your selection box of garments and career options. Wrap them up and label them, “Not for me.” What if, after reflecting on everything you never truly wanted Avant Guard, Gaga’esque options and you long to reach for that perfect cashmere jumper. What if once you return to it, nuzzle in and smile to yourself knowing it’s exactly right for you? Just enough. Just the right amount of comfy and the ability to dress it up when needed. After a fixed-term contract sometimes we appreciate what was there all along. The option we potentially looked over and didn’t truly see for what it was. A true fit for us. You know, we actually find most people in group career coaching decide exactly this: what they have might need a new scarf or a freshen up, but it is exactly where they want to be.You know, we actually find most people in group career coaching decide exactly this: what they have might need a new scarf or a freshen up, but it is exactly where they want to be.
Have you tried a role on for size in a fixed term contract? What did you learn? Let us know at email@example.com If you’re inspired to look for a fixed term contract, create a profile with us today and get fabulous jobs coming to you.