How to Manage the Transition Between Jobs
There are a lot of jobs available right now. That’s good news for contractors and job seekers who are seeking continuous employment. However, landing a new job while your current job ends isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The contract job transition plan
A contract job transition period can feel like the moment when a trapeze artist is suspended high in the air — just before being safely caught by their partner. Nerve-wracking. Stressful. Maybe even a little dangerous.
Just like under the big top, your ability to navigate the end of one contract and the start of another depends on having a partner you can depend on.
That’s why we asked Aerotek Recruiter Practice Lead Latonia Curtis for advice. She’s been working with contract employees for over 14 years and has spent much of her tenure helping people like you negotiate the transition period between job contracts.
Her advice is to finish your current assignment on a good note, take the time to prepare for your next move and be proactive in your job search.
How to transition from one job to another in contract work
1. Finish strong
When contracts are close to ending, workers often begin to take their role less seriously since they are about to move onto the next opportunity. Avoiding this mindset is important because the quality of your performance says much about your professionalism. Instead of coasting when your contract is coming to an end, be sure you leave on a good note.
Another important reason for finishing strong and resigning with grace is that an employer reference is still valuable. A good word from your previous employer might be able to help you make a quicker transition.
“I still think references are super beneficial and it's the quickest way to get somebody into another job if we're able to utilize that exit reference with another company. Companies like to hear that your previous assignment was completed successfully. We have direct contact with the manager so it’s something we can request on behalf of the contractor,” says Curtis.
Keep in mind that whether your contract ends in three days or three weeks, you’ll still need to find a new position. Putting your best foot forward for that process can start right away. Treat each remaining day at your current position like a trial period for your next job, and your transition will go much more smoothly
2. Plan your next move
In most cases, you’ll know when your assignment is going to end. Before you get to that date, start doing your research and figuring out what jobs are available in your area.
“Contractors approaching the end of a contract should start doing their market research. Then they can make sure the jobs they’re interested in align with their goals, skills and interests. They can also establish some long-term and short-term goals. Even figuring out the details like what they’re looking for in a commute and shift times can help make the transition easier,” says Curtis.
3. Trust your contract job recruiter
The contract job transition can be stressful. Develop a solid professional relationship with your contract staffing partner, so you’ll be able to lean on a reliable ally when the time to leave comes.
But how do you know if a recruiter is trustworthy?
The key to knowing if your recruiter is trustworthy is if they take an active interest in you as a person. You should feel comfortable in your relationship with your recruiter from the very first time you speak on the phone.
Curtis recommends that contractors keep an open line of communication with their contract job recruiter.
“When we know someone’s contract is expiring we want to contact them to get an update. It’s a great time to review their resume and add skills that they’ve learned. We can also get an idea of what they want to do next and learn more about their goals.”
This is also an opportunity to learn more about what jobs are available. Is there a local warehouse hiring for your skill set? Is there a big construction project nearby that needs help? A contract recruiter can let you know what’s currently available and what’s in the works so you can make a better decision about your next job.
“When working with someone transitioning between contracts, it's a really good idea to start sending them information on companies that we know are usually always hiring. Then we can see if there's anything that interests them about potential companies and then provide further details about what the job involves. We want to give them an idea of what we typically have in the works so they can get excited,” says Curtis.
Relationships work best when there’s trust on both sides. Along with trusting your contract job recruiter, be honest and upfront with them about your interest level in potential opportunities. This will help them present better options in the future.
4. Find a job while you're still employed
A stressful aspect of job transitions is the amount of uncertainty involved. In the brief period between contracts, a candidate doesn’t know what will be coming next, and a large part of the process is beyond their control.
One way to avoid excess worry? Control what you can, and let the rest be.
There are steps you can — and should — take while you’re still in your current position that can help you thrive in the job market as a candidate for your next position.
Here’s how to find a job while you’re still employed:
- Reach out to your current supervisors, and find two who are willing to write reference letters.
- Update your resume to reflect the most recent job experience, including responsibilities and skills developed.
- Research companies that you’d be interested in working with in your next job, identify what about their culture you find attractive and communicate your findings to your recruiter.
- Brush up on your interview skills, and identify stories from your recent job experience that will serve you well in answering behavioral interview questions.
Curtis also recommends taking this time to address personal appointments like doctor or dentist visits.
“Is there anything that you must do at home? Any appointments that you've been missing out on that you couldn’t do because of work? Are there any family things that you can do like take a vacation? Asking these questions helps to build a relationship and show contractors that we care about stuff outside of work,” says Curtis.
The time between jobs can be a great opportunity to review what you’ve accomplished and set new goals. Working with a contract recruiter and doing some research on potential jobs can help you with the transition. For the best results, Curtis recommends job seekers focus on updating and posting their resume
“I would say make sure your resume is updated and if you need help with your resume reach out to a recruiter. Be proactive with your resume and post it on multiple sites. Whether that's through Aerotek or something like LinkedIn or Indeed — make sure that your profile is updated with what you've been doing most recently. Just don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you. If you’re actively looking for a new job, you’re in a good spot to find something that interests you.”
Interested in learning more about how to transition between jobs in contract work?
Do you have a recruiting partner you trust? Aerotek recruiters are here to help you create a contract job transition plan and guide you through the contract labor process. To find a position that’s suited for your goals, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity.