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How contracting can benefit your long-term career

Posted on from Robert Walters Singapore

With a surge in demand for contracting positions over the last year from organisations across the financial services and commerce sectors, how can temporary positions be beneficial for both employers and employees?

The Singapore employment market is changing

Due to the Asian work culture focus on job longevity and stability, the contracting option has been a less popular method over permanent positions. However, over the last three to four years, we've seen contract and temporary recruitment methods slowly emerging and being utilised by a variety of employers. This was initially implemented by the banking and finance sectors and the larger MNCs. Over time, contracting has become a more prevalent hiring approach for businesses of all sizes across sectors. 

This was most evident in the past 12 to 18 months. We’ve seen a shift in the recruitment level for temporary and contract staff from organisations. This can be attributed to the global credit crunch and the knock-on effect this had on staffing levels and headcount budgets in companies. 

In this evolving contract market, employers are beginning to recognise the differences in attracting candidates to interim positions over permanent roles. As some benefits are only applicable to permanent staff, a 5–10% increment on the normal basic salary for a similar level permanent role have been offered to contract candidates instead. Companies have also started paying out a completion bonus at the end of the contract period to further retain candidates. 

Moving into 2013, we're seeing more employers factoring in the need and showing more interest in hiring people on a temporary basis. The new wave of recruitment stems from the desire for a more flexible workforce, the increase in restrictions to hiring permanent staff and the greater availability of skilled contract staff. We explore the highlights of this approach which will be fundamentally beneficial for both candidates and organisations.

Employers

An increasing number of companies are recognising the benefits which contract and temporary hires can offer them. This will be of assistance not just momentarily, but also as a viable long-term headcount solution. 

  • Ability to bridge a resource gap for a fixed period of time without increasing headcount
  • Option to manage long-term sick leave or maternity leave effectively without added pressure on your existing team
  • Source highly-skilled professionals to manage or support a particular project for just the required time
  • This is a route to proven full-time employees. Contracting offers the ability to see first-hand how a candidate operates in a role and their integration into the company culture. This will make very valuable assessment before making a permanent offer at the end of the contract assignment
  • Having a pool of contractors offers more flexibility in maintaining the workforce balance in times of downturn
  • Organisations have the flexibility to transfer talents from one project to another based on appropriate skill sets required for different projects
  • Headcount issues can be easily managed by hiring talents on contract and outsourcing the responsibility of HR administration to professional organisations. 

Employees

Regardless of a challenging or booming market, contracting will be a sustainable option. As a job seeker, there are more options in the market as long as candidates are willing to keep an open mind about contract work and recognise the benefits of taking up such roles. 

  • It opens the door to a new industry and possibly a good arrangement for those in-between jobs
  • It provides the opportunity to test out a role without having to commit to your employer, before deciding to move long-term into a similar position
  • You are given the opportunity to prove yourself in a large MNC environment and get recognised for other roles
  • You have the chance to experience salary increments from one contract to another instead of having to wait for annual increments
  • From a lifestyle perspective, it provides you with more freedom to plan longer holidays in-between contracts or to invest your time in training and courses to upgrade and develop your skills
  • As part-time work is very scarce in Singapore, shorter contracts can also offer down time between roles to spend on family life
  • Contracting can be a great route to getting your career started if you are a trailing spouse, new entrant coming into Singapore or as a mother returning to work.

Over the course of the previous years, we saw a significant increase in demand for contract and temporary requirements from companies. This is a number which has risen steadily year-on-year, with the trend set to continue. As more candidates broaden their portfolio to this type of employment, recruitment activity will continue to thrive. 

These opportunities will enable candidates to view the changing requirements of a contract role with more flexibility.

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