T.C. asks:
Two years ago I obtained a Master of Science degree in physics and specialized in photolithography. Since then I have worked for a large semiconductor company. I started there in a managerial position. At that time, my wife and I lost a child by miscarriage. That was a huge hit and as a result my work performance was sub-optimal. In order to support my wife better, I accepted another job as a process engineer. After been employed on a temporary basis for two years now, again I got offered a one year contract by my employer, expecting a permanent contract. I am extremely indignant about it. How can I improve my situation? Should I apply elsewhere?

The headhunter replied:
You feel wronged, and I understand that. Until recently, many companies turned a temporary contract automatically into a permanent position. However, this has changed. I know plenty of engineers who weren’t even offered a sequel after the first temporary contract.
I do not find all your dissatisfaction justly and think you tragic misfortune made you suspicious. It is quite possible that your grieving process is still ongoing and that you can not see some things in the right perspective. I myself think that your employer has taken that into account and even offered you a new contract for that reason.
At the time you were offered this management position because of your communication skills, but you couldn’t prove yourself in that position. Therefore, you do not have strong cards as you would quit now. Your performance could even be used against you in future job applications.
I can not change your feelings, but you have not proven yourself enough to aspire to the job of your life now. If I were  you I would assume the contract and not approach it too negative. Get over your pride and use your time to work on your career and prove yourself. Now you’re weak and in that situation it is difficult to apply for a new job.
Meanwhile, you should assess carefully and critically every good career opportunity that comes your way. If you are a good networker job offers come naturally, because there is a great need for people with a photolithographic expertise.
If you still seriously consider leaving your current employer, be certain that you are very sure of this decision. Your next job has to be a logical next step following your current position and must be successful. Otherwise there’s a substantial risk your career pattern will become too messy and you won’t get enough substance in your resume.
Moreover, switching at this time almost automatically implies, that you leave the chip industry because the market is currently not favorable for engineers with your education and experience.

Ask the headhunter: anton.van.rossum@ir-search.nl.

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