June 13, 2022

How to Use Contract Work to Test Other Industries & Company Cultures

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Your talent as a professional isn’t limited to your industry. Many skills, known as “transferable skills,” are like the name implies: you can transfer them from job to job, even roles in widely different industries.

For example, say you have a really analytical mind. You frequently use critical thinking skills in your role as an information security analyst to detect cybercrime threats and recommend industry-leading solutions to your company. You love to analyze the details, uncover patterns and take a proactive approach to problem solving.

Those exact skills are desirable in a variety of other industries. As a marketer, you could research the best way to launch your product in a new country. In finance, you could analyze how a company’s outdated legacy systems put the company at risk. In a human resources role, you could evaluate a company’s organizational structure and use employee survey data to recommend better ways to reorganize it.

Your true passion in life may vary widely from what you’re actually doing at work every day. The good news is, you may be able to pursue a different industry using the skills you’ve cultivated professionally so far. Work in a contract role can help you test the waters.

These types of roles are also great if you want to explore new company cultures. When you know you need a change in your professional life, consider these types of positions.

First: What Is Contract Work?

You’ve likely heard of the term “independent contractor” the past couple years, as the freelancing industry has rapidly increased, especially post-COVID-19. Another type of contract work is that of a short-term, contract role, which may or may not be in a contract-to-hire capacity.

Contract roles typically last several months up to a year or more. The employee agrees to a timeline expecting to work in that positiondetermined by the employer. In a contract-to-hire role, there’s an expectation that once the initial timeline is completed with satisfactory or excpeitonal work the worker will be evaluated to be brought on in a direct hire, full-time position.

In 2020, there were around 13.6 million people working in contract positions and contract-to-hire roles, according to Statista. As employers adjust to recent issues like the Great Resignation (what we call the Great Reassessment) and a looming recession, many are offering contract and contract-to-hire roles to diversify their employee offerings and attract talent to their companies.

How You Can Use Contract Work to Explore Your Professional Options

Changing jobs, and even careers, throughout a lifetime is common. In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on a longitudinal study that found late Baby Boomers held an average of 12.4 jobs from the ages of 18 to 54. Switching jobs is increasingly popular for younger generations, such as Gen Z and Millennials, whom Gallup calls “the job-hopping generation”.

If you’re disengaged at work, or you simply think you’d be more fulfilled in a different role or work environment, consider contract roles. These may be open to candidates who come from different industries because they may be created to:

  • Support full-time staff in busy times
  • Fill expertise gaps that match your skill set
  • Test out new talent before committing

Consider the most in-demand transferable skills today. If you possess any of the following skills, you may have something valuable to offer a company who has an open contract role in a different industry.

  • Adaptability
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Computer skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Management
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Relationship building
  • Teamwork
  • Writing

You can highlight skills like these on your resume and when you’re applying for contract work. Since companies may be desperate to hire help to support their full-time staff and prevent burnout, showing a willingness to learn and contribute however you can may position you well for contract work, even in a new industry.

You can also use contract work to test out new company cultures when your current employer’s values don’t align with yours. According to a recent Glassdoor Mission & Culture survey, 77% of adults would be influenced by a company’s culture before they applied for a position with the employer.

Company culture permeates your work, as it influences your relationships with coworkers, your workflow and how you feel about your professional life. A contract role that’s short-term gives you the opportunity to evaluate a company’s culture before you commit to a permanent role. If you enjoy the work environment, you can look into a permanent position with the employer.

Contract Work Enables You to Test-Drive Companies

In a full-time position, you’ll spend a lot of your time at work. Going through the process of applying for and accepting a full-time position also requires investment and dedication. 

You can save yourself time and worry by pursuing a contract or contract-to-hire role first. That gives you the chance to evaluate a company and get to know it before signing on for a more dedicated position.

If you’re interested in moving industries or exploring new company cultures, AccruePartners can help position you for contract roles with our partner employers. We work with clients in a variety of industries that are looking for talent like yours right now. Contact us to connect with our recruitment team.

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