Cody Szeto is director of the IT&T, engineering, supply chain and procurement divisions at Kelly Services Hong Kong.
How best to get that coveted permanent contract
I have spent 15 years working as a software engineer, but I have taken some time off for other projects in the last 18 months, supporting myself with part-time shifts for a start-up that has grown considerably in that time. Now I’d like to get back to full-time work and secure a position at the company, but am unsure how to negotiate this with the head of department. How can I propose a change in my current contract, without compromising the relationships and goodwill I‘ve built at the firm?
As you have been already engaged as a part-time software engineer in the firm, you possess the advantage of knowing the company and the job requirements. Your chance of being engaged in the same company as full-time staff should be better than an outsider.
However, the success of switching from part-time to full-time is likely to be determined by two factors. Firstly, how the firm views your performance and your relationship with the key decision makers. Secondly, whether the firm has the permanent headcount quota and is in need of such full-time role.
Naturally, your chance of becoming a full-time employee will be higher if the answers to both questions are affirmative. All that remains is for you to find an opportune time to let your supervisor know that you appreciate the work you are doing, the company set-up and culture, and that you would like to explore a full time engagement if the opportunity arises. However, if the firm appreciates your work but simply does not have the headcount, you should graciously thank them for taking note of your request, and register your interest for when the opening surfaces.
On the other hand, do not limit yourself to your current company. In your question, you did not specify the nature of your start-up business. If your experience is tech-related or calls for some degree of innovation, your start-up experience may well be an invaluable asset.
From our observations, more far-sighted employers, especially those undergoing digital transformation, are looking for techno-savvy candidates who bear the qualities of having entrepreneurial mindset, good analytical skills and high learning agility, no matter what industry they are from.
Taking a part-time job to make time for new business ventures is a growing trend. According to Kelly Services’ global workforce survey, “free agents” who perform temporary, freelance jobs, or have their own businesses, account for more than one-third of the working population in Asia-Pacific, and are continually growing. You are at the forefront of this phenomenon.
Your experience in starting a business is your asset, and you should identify what you have learned from it, and transform those precious qualities into unique selling points to your existing or new employers.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as How best to get that permanent contract?