Gbenga Rufai, Oct 2014
In my last piece, the part 1 of this article, I shared some crucial factors you must not overlook if you are a contract staff in an organization. The article generated a number of comments and it was good to read from the experience of those who have gone through the route and are doing well today in their different careers. Interestingly, I discovered that some of these tips and issues are also relevant to permanent employees as well. This week is the concluding part of the piece. Do feel free to send in your comment & share your experiences.
6. Don’t cultivate a fake lifestyle
Now, this is one area that I would really like to emphasize. If you work as a contract staff in a company that pays its permanent (though no job is permanent nowadays) staff well, you might fall in to the temptation of trying to ‘match up’. It is important you understand that your earning capacity differs. Several contract hires want to buy expensive cars, wear expensive jewelry, use the latest mobile devices, buy designer brands etc just like every other staff in the organization. Others don’t even have a dime in savings or investments and when there is a sudden lay off, they have nothing to fall back on.
While it’s not a bad idea to buy good items for yourself, never forget that you are not yet at that level. A pussy cat must never allow the sentiments of being from the same family as the tiger deceive it into trying to hunt at the same level as the tiger. A monkey will never be a donkey despite the similarity in the pronunciation of their names. Some contract hires apply for massive loans for luxuries they cannot afford and when better opportunities come, they can’t leave because their debt profile is huge. To be safe, follow the age long adage that says, cut your cloth according to the amount of fabric you have!
7. Find your field on the job
During my search for a career I was naturally wired for, I quickly identified what I was not wired for. Some self-discovery only happens while working. You could also discover a particular area of the job that makes you come alive. For instance, a contract staff could suddenly discover his passion for making presentations, advising colleagues etc. Who knows, perhaps you are actually wired to be a public speaker! I once read about a man who discovered his field while advising his friends in the University. You never can tell, your job as a contract staff could simply help you discover a goldmine that has remained untapped in you for long.
8. Don’t lose your esteem
No other place presents the perfect situation for discrimination than a setting where some categories are regarded as ‘full-staff’ and others ‘contract staff’. The truth is that no matter the company policy in place aimed at reducing the effects of the disparity, you most likely would encounter some people that would rub the fact of your employee status into your face. You possibly would even have to handle been talked down on, threatened with termination of appointment, barred from enjoying some perks (available to other staff), asked to do demeaning tasks and the list is endless. Did I add the fact that such actions could be from colleagues you are older and more knowledgeable than? More qualified or even experienced than?
You might not have control over this unsavory experiences but you must never allow it reduce your self-esteem. The effects of losing your esteem actually last longer than the immediate. Losing it can even reduce your chances of getting better offers in the future. This is because a poor self-esteem can’t be hidden and is a turn off for most recruiters. Dress well (within your means), be courteous, talk boldly, and look into the face of those you speak with. Not being a ‘full’ staff doesn’t mean that you are not a full human.
9. Never forget yourself- Add Value
Several people get complacent on their jobs either as a contract staff or permanent employee. I have met people who have spent 5 years in an organization with no single additional qualification or skill set!! Especially if you work in the financial services industry, late closing hours is a ready excuse. Unknown to these folks, whenever the organization needs to either right size or restructure, they make the work of HR consultants easy in laying them off.
Quit the excuse of no time and apply for a professional certification, degree, online programs, weekend, etc. It would and from experience I can tell you that it would be stressful but once you get the credential, the pain won’t matter anymore. The opportunities are there. You could even form a group among other like-minded colleagues to study together. It helps. If you are a contract staff, you have given yourself an edge on the field. When the door of opportunities opens, you won’t be your own adversary.
10. Don’t Destroy Anothers’
I have watched with utter pity how out of bitterness, frustration or whatever reasons may be adduced employees sabotage and do all sorts to run down their organizations where they eke out a living as a contract staff. While I am not in support of the several slave masters who camouflage as employers out there, I am of the firm belief in the legal maxim that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Truth is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, I know you are treated unfairly but it’s still no reason to run down anothers’. I believe our actions are seeds that would grow and yield fruits.
Interestingly, upon close observation, those who are the victims of labour exploitation today end up becoming terrible employers, a case of prey becoming a predator. Never destroy another man’s sweat, in extreme cases, exit the company. I once heard a preacher counsel that it’s advisable not to work for whom you do not love. How practicable? Well that’s left for you to decide.
Our tears of today in the pursuit of our destiny would definitely become the wells of water others would drink from tomorrow. In the words of Winston Churchill, NEVER, NEVER and I say NEVER Give up.
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See you at the top.