Posted by Matti Shicker on January 05, 2017
Today’s job market is very healthy. Unemployment is low and many employers have permanent openings, meaning that they are direct-hire, salaried positions. As a recruiter, I talk to candidates every day, including which types of employment they are open to and interested in. Not surprisingly, permanent roles are often preferred, as those roles typically offer good benefits, a feeling of security and paid time off. If you ideally want a permanent opportunity, by all means, pursue it! However, I’d still like to share some insights into taking a contract role, as they can be valuable to your career path.
Contract Role Benefits
- A steady paycheck
- Continued work experience to avoid resume gaps and grow your skills
- Getting your foot in the door at a company that may ultimately want to hire you after your contract is up
Things you may not know about contract roles
Many contact roles are now W2 payroll, as opposed to 1099. That means that you’ll pay your taxes each paycheck and won’t be chasing invoices or billing clients directly. You’re often even eligible for some benefits!
Contrary to what some might think, contract employment through a firm is at-will. While it is expected that you will stay for the duration of the initial contract term, you are technically able to leave at any time. The standard two-week notice is still a best practice, though.
You may be thinking that I’m not telling you anything new, but don’t bail on me yet! The big question is: “Does it ever make sense to leave a permanent opportunity for a contract role?”
While that’s not typically the case, there can be several reasons why it would make sense for you:
Your Employer is in Bad Shape
This is a personal choice and risks would need to be weighed, but it could make sense to get ahead of a potential layoff, especially if the contract role is longer term (6+ months) and is an interesting, skill-building opportunity.
You’re Miserable in Your Current Role
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to be in a job where you dread getting out of bed in the morning. If going to work makes you want to pop a Xanax (or seven), an interesting contract opportunity with a solid company could be just what the doctor ordered. Again, it’s probably less intimidating of a change if the contract is a longer duration.
Your Commute is Unbearable
Let’s be honest, no one wants to sit in traffic for hours each day or have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a train. This affects both your physical and mental health. If your commute is burning you out and there is a contract role that is closer to home and will improve your daily life, it’s certainly something to consider.
Contract roles are often paying market wage, so if you are currently underpaid you may be able to make more as a contractor. This will increase your income and can put you in a position to command more money in your next role by increasing your salary history. For example, a digital marketing manager with five years of experience should expect a salary of $80-90K per year ($40-45 per hour). If you have that experience, but your salary is only $60-65K, it could make sense for you to take a contract role that pays $40 per hour ($80K per year). Then, for your next permanent position, you could likely command a salary of at least $80K.
There’s no doubt that contracting has its pluses and minuses, and it’s a choice you need to make for yourself. Hopefully, this helps put things into perspective.
I always tell candidates that nothing is ever permanent, because even if you are in a “permanent” role, you can be let go in a moment’s notice. This is why it’s important to consider all of your options and think them through. If you are looking for your next career move or need help finding talent for your team, contact us today!