Should I be a Contract Worker or a Permanent Employee?

August 29th, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | 1 Comment »

contract worker or permanent employeeTo be a contract worker or a permanent employee: that is the question many workers pose to themselves. Whether it is better in your mind to have the stability of a fulltime job, or to take on the sea of freedom that is the life of a contract worker, deciding between the two is an important career decision no matter which option you choose.

Are you contract work or fulltime material?

Contractors need to possess a certain independence that is not always a necessity for fulltime employees. A contract worker should be able to work on his or her own, and self-management skills are almost a requirement. It is not rare for contract workers to be left alone by management to finish a project. Many even telecommute from a home office.

It is also beneficial for contractors to specialize in a certain certification or with a particular coding language. A lot of contract work that is sought by employers is short-term because there is a particular task that needs to be accomplished. It is often more attractive for a contract worker to be able to provide a specific service that is sought by many companies.

On the other hand, fulltime employees tend to like the stability and scheduled nature of working as a permanent employee. It also allows you to work closely with a team and build long term relationships with coworkers both in and outside of work, something contract work usually doesn’t offer.

Additionally, permanent employees prefer to have a bit more oversight into how they do their work, and working long term with a company can also allow them to have a mentor that will teach them the industry.

Whether you decide to be a contractor or not it is important to consider the following pros and cons of contract work:

Pros of contract work:

• No long term commitments – You don’t have to worry about staying long-term with a company that you don’t like. If things aren’t going well, you can relax knowing that you will be able to finish your work and move on.

• Often can work from home – If you are more productive working on your own, or just prefer the quiet solitude of your home office, then contract work can provide that for you.

• Avoiding office politics – Working in an office can lead to rivalries amongst co-workers. Also, mergers, downsizing, and budget crises can lead to layoffs. Consider yourself immune to all of the above.

• You are paid for the work you do – Fulltime workers who are salaried may have to stay late now and again to finish a project, leading to long hours that don’t always come with extra pay. As an hourly-paid contract worker, you are paid for the work you do, always.

• More Freedom – Feel like moving about the country and seeing how other people live? Contract work can give this to you. Rather than hunkering down in a single location, you are free to move wherever your work may take you.

Cons of contract work:

• No solid work – Contracting comes with the sentence of forever being a job seeker. It is imperative that you have another job lined up by the time you finish your current contract or you risk gaps in income. Recruiters are a great source to help you find consistent work.

• Less Benefits/401K – Contract work doesn’t always come with a 401K or the monster benefits and perks that some companies offer their fulltime workers. On rare occasions, however, certain staffing agencies will offer their own benefits packages and even a 401K to the candidate they help find work.

• Owning your equipment – Companies usually don’t supply equipment to contract workers. Instead, you must shell out your own cash for the tools necessary to get the job done. To help you pay for them, look into tax breaks that cover business expenses.

• Difficulty switching to permanent work – Some employers do not find contract workers to be attractive candidates for positions with their offices. The longer you stay as a contract worker, the harder switching to a fulltime position can become. Look out for contract-to-hire positions that will allow you to get your foot in the door for a permanent position.

Keep in mind that these are general trends that may not apply to all contract and permanent fulltime positions. Every company is different, and your experiences as a contract worker may not be the same as anyone else’s.

By Kevin Withers

Image courtesy of SuperFantastic via Flickr

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