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“I’m holding out for that perfect job”— But should you be?

April 24, 2015

B.J. Williams, Esq.

Why A Contract Opportunity Might Be A Great Option For You

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that everyone should be passionate about what they do in their professional careers. Unfortunately, passion is not always synonymous with practicality. However, taking and grabbing practical opportunities that serve as stepping stones in your career advancement can lead to a position you are passionate about.

As a professional in the recruiting industry, I routinely connect with individuals at various points in their career, some of which are currently in a career transition and would be available and interested in contract opportunities. Sometimes during these conversations, however, I hear that someone is holding out for that “perfect job.” Believe it or not, recruiting professionals are actually human and most (though I can’t speak for everyone!) have a heart as well. We get it—who doesn't want the perfect job? What some people don’t realize, however, is that the non-perfect contract opportunity could invariably lead to that perfect job.

How? The perfect job could become available at that company/firm where you are working on a contract basis, through a referral from someone at that company/firm, or even from an external business partner. In the ever changing job marketplace, it is always a good thing to expand your network and, if you do a great job in a contract role, you may be able to open some new doors for yourself that otherwise may not have been opened for you. Contract opportunities often allow someone to fill their skill gap while they continue to search for that perfect job too.

Still not convinced? Consider this question: Is it worth continuing to create a skills gap in your background while waiting around for that perfect job?

Maybe the answer is yes. But maybe it is worth considering other options as well. Why? For a few reasons:

Your Peers are Leaving You in the Dust

Your peers are continuing to work (contract or otherwise) and continuing to develop and maintain their skillsets. To put it plainly: You are being left behind.

Here’s a scenario I've run into a number of times. I connect with Candidate X for a temporary opportunity. Candidate X was unfortunately laid off four months ago during a corporate restructuring. Candidate X and I mutually agree that the opportunity we connected about fits their background and would put their skillset to use as well as allow them to further develop their skillset, but they don’t want to move forward—why?—because it’s not the perfect job they were seeking. I do my best to explain that it might not be perfect, but it allows you the opportunity to create contacts, build relationships and keep your skillset sharp. Unfortunately, even after considering these benefits, some people still choose to walk away. I never understand it, but I wish them luck and always hope that our paths might cross in the future.


Further to my scenario above, there have been times that I reconnect with the same candidate months later (who happens to still be seeking a position) for a new opportunity that they are interested in pursuing. However, they are not selected for the role—why?—because the client felt their experience was stale and not recent enough while another candidate kept their skillset sharp (working a contract opportunity) and, thus, had recent and relevant experience. There is a ton of competition for most positions (even the contract ones) and you are likely going to be competing against peers with similar, if not identical, backgrounds for these roles. Based on my experience, when faced with two similar/identical candidate options a prospective employer is going to choose the candidate with the most recent and relevant experience. A candidate’s decision to hold out for the perfect job (in lieu of keeping their skills sharp) may have just cost them that perfect job.


Breaking Back in Gets Increasingly More Difficult

The longer you stay stagnant and let your skills plateau (or sometimes even decline), the harder it will be to get back into work/get into another role, and it will be even harder for you to find that perfect job. Here is a WSJ article detailing what I mean here: Article.


I know the article is talking in broad strokes and is lumping everyone who is currently unemployed into the same bucket rather than just focusing on those waiting for the perfect job, but the point is—a prospective employer who asks what you have been doing over last 8 months since your last employment opportunity is not going to put much weight behind a respond like this: “I had a few potential opportunities, but I was looking for the perfect job (like this one!) and did not want to take just anything.” This reply is meant to show your passion and interest in this new role, but in reality it might just show the employer that you are a difficult employee to please or even worse, that you are ”lazy” or not motivated enough (which could be far from the truth). They may also think: if they are a good candidate, then why wouldn't they have a job by now? Is there something wrong with them or am I missing something?


My hope as a recruiter is that the opportunity we discuss is your perfect job (or can become the perfect job), but I realize that is not always the case. I just hope that if you are currently seeking that perfect job, you don’t pass over a few smaller stepping stones to get you there. Just as recruiting agencies typically try to fill the gaps for their clients, they can also help candidates fill the gaps on their way to that perfect job. Consider each and every opportunity presented to you and don’t just walk away because it doesn't fit your perception of what a perfect job is.


B.J. Williams is the Director of Recruitment & Attorney Development Best Practices in the Philadelphia office of JURISolutions. He has experience working with clients and candidates in wide range of disciplines, including financial, life sciences, manufacturing, real estate, chemicals and energy, among others. He has successfully conducted senior leadership search assignments for a range of clients, including Global corporations, Fortune 500 corporations and national, regional and boutique law firms. B.J. holds a law degree and is a member of The North Carolina State Bar.

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