Should I turn down a fixed term contract to wait for a permanent role?

employment contract_151969043As a result of continuing tough market conditions a fair number of candidates still find themselves on the market looking for a position whilst not currently employed. For these individuals it can be a very challenging time, and as discussed in some of our previous blogs it is important that you have a game plan and plan your job search.

The good news for some of these people is that market conditions are improving and we are at that point of the year where there is a “hive” of activity to get roles filled before Christmas.

However these improving conditions are also creating a dilemma for some candidates. Do they accept a fixed term contract or do they be brave and hold out for their “dream” role? Six months ago, my advice would ordinarily be to have taken the fixed term contract. At that time there was a lot of indecision in the market and protracted recruitment processes made it difficult to predict if appointments were likely. But things are changing and this does create a different perspective. It is not straight forward but there are a number of questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether to take a fixed term contract or wait for a permanent position.

How marketable are your skills and experience? – If you have been looking for a new role for a period of time you should get a real sense as to how marketable your specific skills and experiences are. With continued competition clients will often be looking for the most relevant skills available and so you need to identify how many roles are available that match your specific experience.

Be honest with yourself about how your job search is going – If you have been looking for a while you will also have a feel about how it is going. What response have you had from the market? How many irons do you have in the fire? My advice here is with the competitive nature of the market you need to be in quite a few processes to stand a good chance of landing a role.

Realistically how long can you afford to be out of work? – This question will be pivotal in whether to take an interim role because this will affect your appetite for risk.

How long is the contract for? – This can be a double edged sword. If it is a role which is going to add to your skills and experience then clearly a longer term contract will give you more stability. This will also afford you the time to focus on securing the right role.

Accepting a temporary or fixed term contract can be lucrative and many contractors enjoy the freedom of being in charge of their own careers, but is this really the right approach for you?At first glance, the answer to this question may appear obvious. Any form of gainful employment, even temporary employment, is widely considered preferable to prolonged unemployment. As always it is not that simple. At a more senior level it is widely accepted that because of the nature of the market over the last few years it will often take individuals a sustained period of time to find a new role. Many people find temporary work to be very beneficial, since both employee and employer understand the temporary nature of the job and fixed term contracts. For the individual it can be a great way to broaden their experience and work maybe within a new sector. For the client they are likely to be gaining a very flexible solution to a problem. Of course the downside is that in a competitive market, looking for a new role can be a full time job and therefore by accepting a fixed term contract you may be reducing your chances of securing the permanent role your really desire. From a CV perspective the positives also depend on what the contract will add to you? Is it additional skills and experiences that will be attractive for the sought of role you are looking to secure? Temporary employment is still considered employment, which means an unemployed worker’s benefits may be affected by the additional income. Under certain circumstances, unemployment benefits may be calculated according to the last work performed, not necessarily the last permanent employer.

So to summarise…..


  • Could lead to a permanent role
  • More flexibility to attend interviews
  • Could provide experience and knowledge in new areas/sectors
  • Length of contract is important
  • Potentially Higher earnings
  • Could be better from a CV perspective than a long period not working
  • Satisfy your financial needs in the short term


  • Security and stability
  • Training and learning opportunities and career progression
  • More likely to achieve a higher profile or managerial position
  • Benefits, bonus, holiday pay and pay increases
  • More rights as a permanent employee
  • May suit your broader career plan

Without question it can be incredibly difficult to decide between accepting a fixed-term contracts or holding out for a permanent role. It can be argued you are better performing a fixed term contract role than accepting a permanent role which for a variety of reasons may not last. It is a big decision for anyone to make and I feel ultimately it will come down to an individual’s personal circumstances, marketability and preferences. Hopefully some of the comments above will provoke thought and reflection for anybody in this difficult situation.


2 thoughts on “Should I turn down a fixed term contract to wait for a permanent role?”

  1. Thanks Russell for this timely blog post, as it affects several of my clients and their dilemma: shall they hold on longer for a permanent job (their ideal) or bridge the gap with a contract role?
    My question to you: How are contract positions regarded by recruiters? How does a candidate who has taken one (or several) contract positions compare to someone who has been unemployed for longer, holding out for the full-time position? I understand it is difficult to generalise, but so many recruiters tell me they prefer to recruit clients who are employed, rather than unemployed.

    1. Hi Ruth, thanks for your comment and great question. To be honest, the challenge here is that people have very different opinions on the subject and that applies to both recruiters and Hiring Managers. It is a difficult scenario for candidates to manage and will ultimately be driven by their own circumstances and their confidence in securing a full time role.

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