Why consider a fixed term contract?

Take a look at our current job listings and you’ll see that several roles are advertised as fixed term contracts (FTCs), typically for six or 12 months, and with many of the recruiting firms open to discussing flexible hours. These shorter term vacancies seem popular with law firms just now for two reasons:

  1. In an uncertain market, they offer firms room to manoeuvre if strategy needs to change.
  2. FTCs often allow firms to try out new roles or functions, before they make a permanent offer. In business services, where new skills are in high demand, this can be very useful.

But what about for you, the candidate? Why might you consider an FTC as oppose to another form of permanent flexible contract?

Here are some of our thoughts:

  • An FTC can be a great way to get into the legal sector for the first time, or to pick up experience/skills in a new sector or division that you would like to transfer into. Such roles can be as useful a ‘pilot’ for you as they are for the firms offering them.
  • FTCs offer a different kind of flexibility. Some people choose contract work for the freedom it affords them to take time out for sabbaticals, travel, to start their own business, or just pursue other interests. At a time when more people want career variety and/or work/life balance, FTCs can be very appealing.
  • If things work out, FTCs often turn into permanent offers. And with many of the firms that are offering FTCs also promoting their willingness to consider flexible ways of working across all jobs (Pinsent Masons and Taylor Wessing, for example), it may also be a good route to agreeing a permanent, flexible contract, having proved your value through the term of the FTC.
  • An FTC can also be a way of taking a step up the career ladder. FTCs can offer a speedy way to fill CV gaps with new skills and competencies. These could then be used to apply for those senior roles that may have eluded you before.
  • An FTC can present interesting challenges that are unique to shorter term contracts. You may, for example, find yourself working from beginning to end on a major 6-12 month project. Some people find working to a finite timeline, with a clear conclusion, more rewarding than the on-going duties of permanent work.

There are aspects to consider before applying, however. If the contract is only six months, be prepared to hit the ground running. You will need excellent communication skills and a willingness to get stuck in. Making a good impact and quickly establishing the right working relationships across the firm will be critical to making a success of the shorter-term role.

You may also need to ask the right questions before accepting any offer. Is this an FTC that may lead to a permanent contract? Or is this a project-led role that will conclude once it is completed? You may have very different views as to which path is right for you. Understanding your own and the firm’s objectives will be key for you both making a success of the deal.

Get your approach right, however, and an FTC can be a highly effective way to drive your career in the right direction.

Take a look at our current job vacancies to see if there’s an FTC that might be right for you.


Remote working, Flexible working, fixed term contract

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