Looking for work in the 21st century


By Nathaniel Mitchell
Monday, 07 September, 2020



Looking for work in the 21st century

I would like to pose some questions to you regarding recruitment and the current marketplace. This topic came up in discussion with a couple of friends who are looking for new jobs; specifically the pros and cons of short-term contracts, job hopping and trying to find a place that fits for both the employee and the employer.

I would be interested in hearing your opinion on this — either as an employee or an employer/recruiter — and what you think the solution(s) might be.

Problem 1: Culture

Think of this scenario. You apply for a job with the expectation that you would be one of the senior technical staff in the company… only to find that the employer expects you to work an additional five hours per week — on your own time — just because of that seniority. Then, after starting, you find your personal identity, morals, ethics and so on don’t quite mesh with the employer’s expectations.

As an employee, how long do you give the new employer to see if you fit culturally or not? Then how far do you take it with management to work through the issues? Or, once decided, do you give notice to leave (during your first 6 months/probation period)?

If you do decide to leave — for example, three to four weeks in — do you put this job on your resume? Would it look bad that you didn’t stay with the company for a long time? Or do you lie and say the job was a contract, to make it look better?

What if the next job does the same and rubs you the wrong way; how would you deal with that?

As an employer, what do you look for to ensure that the person you are interviewing (or whose application you are reading) is not hopping between jobs because they are unable to perform and keep hiding it, versus someone who is genuinely trying to find a culture that fits them?

Problem 2: Contracts

I have had stretches where all my work is short-term contract with no extensions (eg, deployments, back-fill, projects), and I’ve experienced the reactions of prospective employers. For example, I was questioned quite a bit about why I had had around five jobs in the last 12 months, when in four cases the answer was literally redundancy or contract.

With the current atmosphere of larger employers liking having their staff on contract (especially those initial 6–12 months ones), it can be hard for a prospective employee to not look like they are hopping between jobs. After all, there are lots of contract roles out there but not many full-time jobs.

What do you think? What has been your experience with short-term contracts and the impact they can have when you’re going for a full-time role?

Problem 3: Misinformation/representation

The following scenario was experienced by two people I know. They were employed under the expectation that their salaries would be (for example) $100k p.a., and their position would be senior technician. Then, they find the contract has been written in such a way that they will be a grade or two lower with significantly less pay (eg, $80K p.a.). But the contract has been worked in such a way that if you include everything (ie, non-tangibles such as social club memberships) it just scrapes in at the promised $100K.

My question for employers is: Do you need to misdirect that much in order to employ people? Do you think that just by having a new employee sign a contract it means they won’t leave?

My question for employees is: If you discover this, do you leave and try to find a new job? Or, if you are in the unfortunate position where you have to take it to survive, do you try to leave as soon as you can or do you give the employer a chance?

Nathaniel Mitchell is a member of the Information Technology Professionals Association.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/momius

Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) is a not-for-profit organisation focused on continual professional development for its 18,700 members. To learn more about becoming an ITPA member, and the range of training opportunities, mentoring programs, events and online forums available, go to www.itpa.org.au.

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