While many graduate opportunities across Ireland are permanent, the landscape is changing.
More and more employers are offering graduates a fixed term contract as a stand-alone opportunity or as part of a graduate programme. The UL careers fair on October 3rd will give the opportunity to discuss the exact details of the contracts on offer.
Deciding between Fixed term or Permanent
Which one should I go for? You might think that the obvious choice would be to apply for the permanent role rather than a temporary or fixed contract, right? It depends; every situation is different. Find out if a permanent job is even possible; if not, maybe you may want to pass and keep looking. However, if the employer of your dreams only recruits graduate talent on fixed-term contracts, what then? The option to apply is up to you, depending on how much you want this opportunity and how much you want to have a career with this particular company.
The key consideration for most graduates will be - what are the chances of a permanent job when this contract is complete. Employers will usually be up front early on during the hiring process. They are likely to tell you that the key factor regarding any opportunity for permanency will be your performance during your time with the company. Very often, a high number of graduates are recruited initially, but a smaller number of the top performers are kept on and offered permanent contracts. It may sound like all the cards are stacked firmly on the employer's side. Maybe, but a fixed-term contract can also help the graduate to decide if this job is the right fit for them.
Will I know if this fixed term contract is a good bet for likely permanency in the future?
The ‘based on performance’ message may be first mentioned during the Milkround. This is when companies come onto the university campus to advertise their graduate opportunities. It is important that prospective graduates understand the various contract offerings. University careers service staff have a wealth of knowledge dealing with graduate employers. Prospective graduates should avail of the services their careers service offer such as 1:1 consultation to discuss their job search strategies. If you know someone in the company you are interested in they are best placed to can give you a truer picture of the prospects of you landing a future permanent position. Graduates are advised to do their research thoroughly on platforms like Linkedin and in particular, the alumni feature which will show a picture of previous graduates hires career progression in those early years after graduation.
What can I do to influence an offer of a permanent contract at the end of a fixed term graduate contract?
A lot is written about the first hundred days in a new job. Your goal as a graduate is to transition as quickly as possible and lose that ‘grad tag’ and add value to your team quickly. When it comes to work you have been assigned, take ownership of it and finish the job to the highest possible standard. Avoid the trap of your comfort zone. I am doing what I’m asked to do so I’m fine. Well, others are doing that and more! You want the work you are doing to surpass what is deemed standard for a graduate. Investigate outside of your job responsibilities and look to secure some early wins. Know exactly where that expectation bar is but beware of setting unrealistic goals. You may perform well but fail to achieve what you said you would.
The technical part of the business is only one part of your learning. You need to learn the culture inside the organisation. You should network and make your intentions known. Diversify your coffee break partners as much as possible. You need to build support at all levels and not just manage up but also horizontally across your team. Joining company sports and social clubs is a good way to do this. Keep looking for feedback from different stakeholders, be brave and ask them for honest and frank assessments.