Career Advice

Career Move or Poor Form? Bailing on a Job Assignment

Mark Smith Posted by Mark
min read
Mediensturmer A Wf7mjww J Jo Unsplash

There has been a situation this week at people2people that happens all too often, is uncomfortable and presents all parties with a dilemma. Recently, in the news, as well as on the people2people blog, the issue of age discrimination in the workforce has been discussed. Many mature age workers are struggling to get into the workforce. Similarly, youth unemployment and underemployment in many parts of Australia is reaching levels not seen for thirty years. One of the people2people consultants saw beyond any 'age barrier', recognising the skills and experience of a 'mature age' candidate who had been out of work for six months.  The people2people consultant, through his insight and experience, secured the candidate a temporary role, albeit for only four weeks. Great news! But this is where the dilemma arises. The candidate was then approached after one week in the temporary role with an opportunity to take on a six month assignment elsewhere. What was the best course of action? In this instance, the candidate chose to leave the four week role and take the longer assignment. What would you have done? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. You have given your word to complete a contract for four weeks and yet break that contract, although there are no legal ramifications. No one can be forced to work.

  2. You are placing the consultant (the consultant who secured you a role after six months being unemployed) in a situation where they are not delivering to their new client what has been promised. As an aside, the consultant had been trying to win business from this client for nearly two years.

  3. There are no guarantees that the new role will last six months, because any employment relationship is reciprocal. Just as you can leave at short notice, so can an employer cancel a temporary job at short notice.

  4. The consultant has stated he will never be able to assist you again, as he can no longer trust you will keep your word.

I would be keen to know everyone's thoughts, so please comment below. For what it's worth, here is my advice to any candidate placed in this situation: think long term. Trust is reciprocal, so if your consultant can trust that you will keep your word and perform to the best of your ability, then the likelihood of receiving more assistance in the future is dramatically increased. There are no guarantees, but, by breaking your word, you are increasing the likelihood that it will be difficult to help you. Of course, I am neglecting the obvious dilemma, that another job has become available for a longer period. If this were your priority, then why accept a short term role? If the new role were a permanent one, then I can understand why this would be the preference. But I would advise completing your assignment first, with notice. Most people currently in a role have to give four weeks' notice, so finishing your assignment should not be an issue. If it is, then I would reconsider accepting the four week assignment initially. In a footnote to our story, the candidate called people2people at 3:30pm, leaving at 5pm on the same day from our client's premises. After our consultant expressed his disappointment, the candidate then went on to tell the client people2people had secured them the new role, a complete fabrication. All of this ensures we will not help this candidate in the future, no matter how much experience they have, because we simply don't trust them. Was this a good career move or poor form?