Becoming a contractor: The right move for your career?
More and more professionals are considering the temporary market when looking for work, seeking contracting jobs.
There are numerous positive outcomes from becoming a contractor: greater flexibility in when you work, more control over the type of projects you work on and the often higher rate of pay compared to permanent employment - to name just a few.
If you have decided that this is the direction you want your career to head, it’s important to be fully equipped for the change.
5 key considerations when looking for contracting jobs
1. Know your market: Contracting jobs are more prevalent in some industries than others. Those where large-scale projects are commonplace naturally mean contract opportunities are more abundant.
Beyond the opportunities being out there, knowing which ones you are suited to based on your skills and experience is just as important.
2. What it means for your pay: It’s widely accepted that you can earn more as a contractor - that’s just the nature of short-term project work. Hiring companies need your specific expertise and experience, so are willing to pay well for it. But remember: you won’t be getting paid for sick days or holidays.
3. Make sure you’re set up properly: Before you start applying for a contract opportunity, you need to be set up in an appropriate way to operate as a contractor.
Depending on where you are in the world, there will be a number of different options available to you, each with its own positives and potential negatives.
It’s important to thoroughly research which ones are available to you and it’s probably best to speak to an independent financial adviser for guidance on which is most suitable for your specific situation.
4. Be open to constant upskilling: Most people want to take steps that enhance their careers. It’s pretty much a natural instinct.
Contracting on a variety of projects offers a great opportunity for you to really strengthen your portfolio. As a result, you will be exposed to many different environments along the way that will help you develop your skill sets.
“Becoming a contractor can be a very rewarding and positive career move to make.”
5. Career flexibility: In this instance, it is not just flexibility in terms of when or where you work. Contracting jobs also offer flexibility in being able to steer your career in a particular direction.
Each assignment will run for a set period of time as outlined in your contract, so you know when you need to start thinking about the next. This gives you freedom to map out what sort of project you want to move onto that will be the best possible step forward for your career.
Maintaining a strong working relationship with your recruiter or agency is vital in that regard as they know what’s out there and can help you figure out what your next move should be.
A few misconceptions about becoming a contractor
Still a little uncertain about whether moving into the contract market is right for you? There may be some things you’ve heard or read that are putting you off.
Here are a few common misconceptions about contracting that will hopefully ease your concerns…
“I won’t be valued as much as permanent employees.”
Not the case at all.
As a contractor, you are essentially an independent business that provides a service to a bill paying customer (the hiring organisation).
It’s true you don’t receive the same level of benefits as the permanently employed colleagues you’ll be working alongside, but the business is paying specifically for your expertise. And often, you’ll be working on business critical projects and complex tasks that they can’t complete with their existing workforce - they definitely value your efforts!
“I won’t be working on anything interesting.”
A huge myth.
The fact that the primary purpose of contracting jobs is to focus on niche projects and tasks means that you will in fact be working on the most interesting tasks available.
In the instances when the role is to cover for a temporary absence (such as maternity or sick leave), granted you may not be doing such exciting work.
But it should still be seen as an opportunity to grow - if you exceed in the role, you are likely to be given more responsibilities and will be able to broaden your experience even further. You never know, if you impress the right people, it could lead to future opportunities.
“Changing assignments will make my CV look like I can’t hold down a job.”
Once again, false.
Hiring managers and recruiters know about contracting and the often short-termed nature of assignments, so they will definitely not be put off by this.
In fact, multiple contract roles can really bolster your CV as each one, regardless of whether they are similar to the last, will add a new skill set, improve your sector experience and increase your level of exposure to other departments - you’d be unlikely to get that in the same duration if you were in a permanent position.