I’m on a six-month contract working at a local large law firm. My contract is winding down with three months left. Out of fear of being unemployed again once the contract ends, I started applying for jobs in other law firms. As you know, jobs are scarce and the competition is fierce. One employer has invited me to a job interview! Now I feel badly about applying now since I’ve developed a pretty good rapport with everyone at my present company.
If I were to actually be offered another job, do you think it’s okay to leave, say 2 mos. before the end of the contract?
Signed: Concerned Contractor (CC)
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I am impressed that you started looking for work before your contract ends. I would also consider the following strategies
With only three months away till the contract ends, I would address your contract with your manager. Have you asked the big question – could the six-month contract lead to full time permanent position? If yes, I would ask for something in writing and get more details. I would also express my enjoyment of working with the team and that you have developed a great rapport with everyone. Reiterate your interest in staying at the firm and growing your career there.
2. Get feedback.
Have you had any feedback from your manager on your work over the past three months? Are you adding value to the firm? If you had not had a performance review, I would ask to meet with the manager and discuss your performance. Find out how you are doing and if there area for improvement; get help from them to identify your strengths. Find out if there is any education or training that would be worthwhile for you to learn to enhance your value at the firm and for your career growth, such as software. This feedback is critical for you to know in order to determine your next steps with your job search.
3. Job search.
Either way, go for the interview – it’s always a good experience to meet with potential employers. If you do get a job offer, speak with your current manager and be very transparent about what is going on. Legally you have to give only two weeks’ notice. Depending on your relationship with the manager, and on the other employer, it might be a good idea to offer to stay until they find a replacement. Reiterate your interest in staying at the firm and growing your career there, in case they have a permanent opportunity for you.
4. Gather references.
It might be a good idea to find out before discussing any job offer, whether the manager would be willing to provide you with a reference when you start looking for other work. Depending on their response, I might also find out if they can give you tips regarding employment after your contract is over or possibly refer you to other law firms who might be hiring.
5. Build your professional network and brand.
In the meantime, continue to connect with as many people at your firm, including your manager, on LinkedIn. Look out for events at your present firm and attend as many as you can — before, during and after work. Get to know as many people at the firm as possible. You could even volunteer to help organize and participate in staff parties and other firm events. Work on becoming well-known at your firm by going above and beyond your current tasks and responsibilities.
Good luck with your next position,