I currently work in a position that is very inflexible and very highly structured. I come in for work at 8:15, and I can't really leave the building again until my shift ends.

Problem is, it is a contract job, and I know I will need to start looking for work well before it ends, if I want to make sure I have as little unemployment time as possible.

What is a good way to approach this, in such way that I can remain available to my current position—to retain it for the full length of my contract—but still interview for possibilities for when this contract ends?

2 Answers 2


Problem is, it is a contract job, and I know I will need to start looking for work well before it ends, if I want to make sure I have as little unemployment time as possible.

If you are in a contract position you know will end, then my suggested tact for you would be to approach your supervisor and say it straight out, “I know this contract will end and I have been looking for other jobs after my contract ends. They would like to meet with me on [some day, some time] so could we work something out?”

Unless your current employers are completely tone-deaf to your employment reality, they should—and would—be able to accommodate you. It’s unclear what you do or where you do it, but perhaps you could request an extended lunch on a specific day when you plan on interviewing. Or maybe staying and hour or so later to cover for lost time on the job?

But basically, if it’s on the table—and transparent—that this current contract will end, then you should be as equally transparent about your goals of seeking another position when it ends.

That said, let’s say your current employers are inflexible and not understanding at all. Then if you have sick days, just call in sick and go on interviews on those days. Yes, some people would frown at abusing a sick-day policy to interview for another gig, but if your current employers are inflexible you need to really look at the economy of this situation: They are inflexible, you need work and now they are giving you no other choice than to—let’s face it—tell a “white lie.”


The same way you'd schedule anything.

Employers are often willing to schedule interviews early in the morning, during lunch, or late in the afternoon if your schedule is particularly packed. I've met with folks on a weekend if that was the only time a promising candidate could meet. Of course, that probably doesn't work well if you're interviewing somewhere an hour's commute from your current job. It also generally works better with smaller, more flexible employers than with a giant Fortune 500 company.

Otherwise, you'd need to find a way to get time off from work just like you would if you needed to visit the doctor or do some other errand that can only happen during business hours. I'm hard-pressed to think of many employers that have employees working 8 hours a day 5 days a week that don't have some facility (formal or informal) for getting people time off. If you have vacation days, you can obviously use those for interviews. If you can trade shifts with coworkers, you can sometimes arrange that. If you talk to your manager, perhaps your shift can end a few hours early (or start a few hours later) on the day in question. The set of options that are available will depend on your workplace, of course, so it's hard for us to guess at how others manage. I'd wager, though, that there is some way that employees manage to take kids to the doctor or visit the dentist or have a plumber deal with a burst pipe-- whatever approach works for those things works for an interview.

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