Contract Work as Career Choice
GONE are the days when being a temp or short-term employee was just a steppingstone to a regular job; at present, it's a full-fledged career choice that many people want to pursue. Here go some of the pros and cons concerning the subject.
Did you ever wish you had a flexible work schedule? Are you the kind that seeks to work only three days a week? Or one who likes to take up only those projects that interest you, no matter how short or long they last? Then, contract-work or temporary work might just be THE answer for you. Contract work means that you can enjoy the best of both worlds - being your own boss while still working on projects on site - or enjoying the option of working from home.
Generally, people entering the job market for the first time or who have been out of work for a while prefer temporary and contract positions. Some others favour contract work as it offers them the opportunity to start their own business whilst still in the `going to work' kind of environments. Such positions not only provide an opportunity to improve or strengthen skills but also help us learn or relearn the ropes and get accustomed to the diverse work schedule. According to a survey, contrary to the stereotypical outlook of "temps" being clerks carrying out administrative functions, a major part of the contract workforce is engaged in management, scientific research (mainly biotech), IT, ITES, accounting & finance and engineering. People go for it probably because they like the flexible nature of the assignment, exposure to different industries and the new environment they get to work in and fresh faces they come across with each assignment.
Is there a need?
From the employer's perspective, the advantages are clear, though. Instead of absorbing a fixed overhead (like extending health care benefits, payroll tax deductions, retirement plan funding, etc.), they can hire someone for a while to complete a specific project or tackle a short-term problem. It is a win-win situation for both the company and the contract worker. A contract job carries certain advantages over permanent employment. Of course, there are some drawbacks as well. Before taking up the contract position, ensure you answer the following questions:
Does the contract position holds out the promise of being a temp-to-permanent position?
What is it about this specific contract position that appeals to you, both from a technology standpoint and from your skill- set enhancement standpoint?
Being a `temp' or contract-work has its own set of advantages.
Flexibility - Here's your chance to be your own boss without the requirement for a bankroll usually required to set up a business. Most often, you choose your own job and chart out your own schedule. And sometimes, you can set your pay roll too.
More money - Generally, being a temp, you can make a significantly higher wage than permanent employees performing the same task. For students, it allows time to finish graduation or pursue other interests apart from earning their own fees.
Free training opportunities - Of late, several staffing agencies are offering training with no cost to the employees. The practice allows them to remain current on new technologies and applications. So, it could be your `learn while you earn' opportunity as you assimilate into newly chosen industries.
Networking - You'll get to meet many people as you take up new jobs and so can enhance your professional experience. It could enhance your résumé skill set. Also, it offers a good opportunity to re-enter the job market.
Variety and diversity - Taking up contract jobs helps one enjoy the variety and diversity not only in the nature of job, but also in the entourage. Some people also see it as a good opening to get into a permanent position.
Ability to focus - Since you'll be there on contract basis, you'll not get dragged into any of the office politics, which is a huge plus. That gives you the ability to focus your attention on the job at hand.
And the downsides
Lacks security - Work is always not available. Once your contract gets over, you'll have to start looking for a job all over again. Unlike the conventional employment, you're not bound to one particular company.
Also, there's no guarantee that there'll be another job waiting in the wings. Moreover, during the slack period, there's no salary coming in.
No benefits - Depending upon the arrangements you set for yourself and your lifestyle, you might find that the benefits available to you are spotty. Most of the times, you'll not have the company health plan to rely on.
Should keep updated - No matter what, you'll need to keep your skills updated to stay in demand. This calls for a considerable effort and discipline on your part.
What about switching to stable jobs?
Does this mean that accepting a contract position will ruin your chances of ever getting a permanent position? Well, probably not. Even though some employers might worry about your consulting background, others may react positively to your rich experience.
It might take a bit longer for you to find the full-time position you want, but it's never impossible.
In a nutshell, contract work is not everyone's cup of tea. As long as there are variety and freedom-seeking people, there'll always be companies with challenging projects and tight deadlines. The rewards can be alluring but the risks are just as much considerable. It's not only a career change, but a lifestyle change too.
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