Neil Johnson, ACCA Careers editor

Perhaps you’ve had enough of the interim or contractor lifestyle and miss the security and predictability of a full-time role, or perhaps your personal circumstances demand a change. Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a permanent job, should it? After all, you’re a member of a valuable profession with a full and varied CV.

However, it is not always that straightforward. As recruitment experts point out, switching from a succession of contract or interim roles to a full-time job presents a number of challenges.

‘The fact you may have learnt an array of skills in a quick timeframe is a real plus point’

First of all, candidates must be adaptable, as a move to a permanent role will certainly require a change in mindset. ‘You’ll likely have less control over your own workload,’ says Steve Sully, regional director for finance and accounting at recruitment firm Robert Half. ‘Contracting often allows for flexibility and freedom that you may not get in a permanent role.’

Fitting in

A key concern employers will have will be around cultural fit. Marlinda Zulkifli, associate director at Page Contracting Malaysia, says: ‘It’s crucial to demonstrate that you’ll be able to integrate into the existing team and company culture. You’ll need to exhibit the same level of loyalty and commitment to an organisation that a long-term employee would.’

Employers are almost certain to ask why you’re making the move into permanent employment, so have an answer ready, advises Sully. ‘Honesty is always the best policy, so be open with interviewers.

‘Hirers are used to seeing the move from permanent to contract and so are likely to want to know what’s motivating this move in the opposite direction. It may be worth mentioning why you became a contractor in the first instance. Was it due to the pandemic, company layoffs or personal reasons, for example?’

The right skills

Zulkifli recommends refreshing your skills by seeking out industry-relevant courses, workshops and seminars so you can prove you’re on top of trends and developments. ‘Additionally, hone your communication skills,’ she says. ‘Being able to articulate processes, expectations and constraints clearly can be a deciding factor – this all the more important in a remote working environment.’

In additional to professional skills, networking is important. ‘An ability to network is invaluable in the job search,’ says Zulkifli. ‘It not only opens the door to inside information, potential referrals and recommendations; it also provides insight into a company’s culture, job requirements and much more.’

‘As long as you can demonstrate why you are switching, there is no need to worry’

Face to face

Once you’ve lined up a meeting or interview, it’s really important to demonstrate the skills that you’ve learnt during your contracting career, and how that will be beneficial in a permanent role, Sully says.

He explains: ‘The fact that you will likely have spent time in numerous businesses and may have learnt an array of skills in a quicker timeframe than if you had been in one company is a real plus point, so ensure you delve into the detail of these. Being a contractor also demonstrates that you are a versatile, driven and ambitious individual, which are all great traits to be able to talk about with a future employer or recruiter.’

‘The level of demand we’re seeing will make it easier to move from contract to permanent roles’

Given how important it is that you clearly explain why you want to move to a permanent position, you need to convey why the company you are applying to stands out to you. ‘Is it the culture, or the progression and training opportunities? Whatever it is, ensure you clearly articulate them,’ advises Sully.

For highly skilled contractors, post-contract prospects are good. ‘The level of demand for skills that we’re seeing will make it easier to move from contract to permanent roles,’ Sully says. ‘So there is no need to be overly concerned about the switch, as long as you can demonstrate why you are doing it.’

Top tips

  • Know why you want to make the move and be honest about this with prospective employers and recruiters.
  • Be aware of what remuneration you can command in a permanent role, and seek the advice of a reputable recruiter that can assist with benchmarking.
  • Focus on highlighting your soft skills alongside your technical abilities.

More information

Visit the ACCA Careers website for news and advice on your next career move