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Since the beginning to time, man has been a hunter, a gatherer or both. For much of our history those words had literal meaning, as survival depended on the ability to hunt for some types of food and gather others as well as materials for shelter or combustible items necessary to cook, clean and ward off the cold. In most of today’s world survival no longer demands that we each hunt and gather those things necessary to live. At least not literally. Figuratively, however, our own personal success continues to depend on how well we gather information and resources and how competently we hunt for opportunities, for relationships, even for jobs.
Job hunting. The term truly describes the activity, doesn’t it? Tracking, pursuing, approaching, often while employing stealth, waiting for just right moment to pounce on that job opportunity. Yet, as important as it is to capture the prey (i.e., job) you seek, it is equally important to remember that not every opportunity available is worth seeking. In other words, job hunting success isn’t always determined by whether you are able to snag “permanent full-time employment.”
Much as hunters chose their prey based on immediate as well as long term needs as well as whether they were close to home or many miles away, you might want to consider seeking contract or temporary employment depending on where you are personally, financially, and/or professionally. Job hunting isn’t just about finding a job, it’s about finding the job that addresses your needs while taking all relevant factors into account.
It’s often difficult to step back from a situation in order to gain a wider perspective. Such is often the case when we’re job hunting. We want that best job, the most pay or, perhaps, most importantly, some semblance of security, all of which we want to believe our next job will provide. However, not only is a new job often not what we expected, it sometimes makes us long for the job we left behind or other options we declined instead.
Not jumping at a real offer of a full-time job for which you’re qualified is difficult, especially when you are out of work. Yet, taking a less than suitable position may render you unavailable to accept a job which might actually be much more appropriate. Which is, as it turns out, is only one reason why job hunting shouldn’t preclude considering contract or temporary employment.
Let’s go back to the hunting and gathering analogy as it relates to your career. Your professional development, advancement and ultimately, success, are all functions of the knowledge, education, training, and experience you accumulate as you progress along your journey, traveling from school (and, perhaps, grad school) to entry level positions and then through various stages of employment, often with different employers. Your hunt for knowledge leads you to people who contribute to your “stores” in diverse ways. You gather mentors, references, resources, ideas and important lessons. All of these things can become arrows in your job hunting quiver.
Contract or temporary employment provides you the opportunity to add many such arrows. Each contract or temporary assignment has the potential to give you new contacts, job knowledge, experience and other lessons that may provide great benefit down the road, all in a scenario that isn’t likely to make or break your career, even if you make a mistake.
Job hunting that includes considering contract or temporary employment may be the best way to feed your career aspirations and help you bag the ultimate prize: Your ideal job.