Transitioning into a cover role
Fixed-term contracts where the role you're filling belongs to a member of staff taking a sabbatical, going on maternity/paternity leave, or taking extended sick leave comes with its own set of questions. Am I expected to do what as my predecessor did or is there room for new ideas? Often, these roles are redefined as time goes on to cater to what you bring to the role as well as what the original role-holder offers.
Ask questions prior to the start of the job starting
Your interview is the perfect opportunity to ask what is expected of you in this role and whether your employers see it evolving. This will hopefully give you an insight into any future possibilities of the role becoming permanent, for example, if the current role-holder will return to a brand new, repurposed role. It is best to have an initial idea about where this job is leading.
Get a detailed handover from your predecessor
Your predecessor will expect to come back to things close to how they were, so ensure you make the process to be as smooth as possible for them. It's important for your own success to work alongside the current role-holder to find out everything you can about the job prior to it starting. Make use of your new colleague's knowledge and experience as this will help you hugely during your time in that position.
Don't be afraid to bring your own unique skills set to this role
Use the experience as an opportunity to learn as well as showcase your abilities –without presenting yourself as a threat to the existing role-holder. There are bound to be differences in how you and your predecessor work but this can be a good thing. Depending on how your employers view this role, it's important to demonstrate why you are an asset to them. You never know – if impressed, your employers may want to create a new job tailored to your unique skill set when your cover role comes to an end.