Posted on 29 July 2020
Locally, contract work has a bad rep. In a country that chases the “iron rice bowl” – a career that provides job security, a steady income and solid employee benefits – contract jobs are seen as unreliable and insecure, something you take up only to “tide yourself over” until the next full-time gig.
However, such a view is especially limiting in these times, when the impact of Covid-19 has shown that jobs and wages are not as secure as we believed them to be. On an even broader level, more and more companies are hiring contract workers for high-level positions to capitalise on the flexibility contract work offers.
So, why give contract work a second glance? Here are some pertinent reasons:
- Higher base salary
To make up for the lack of employee benefits such as medical expenses or annual leave, contract workers typically have a higher starting pay. Also, because a contract worker is typically offered the job to finish a task or fulfill an existing need, there is a great deal of leeway for negotiation on the salary front. Some companies also offer completion bonuses for fast work.
- Build your professional skills and network
The advantage of a contract job is that you are in charge of your own professional learning. There are no mandatory company training sessions, widespread learning initiatives, or hours spent learning some company-specific software or procedure never used anywhere else.
For the contract staff, competencies are mastered on a need-to-know basis, creating a pool of talent that often leads to gains in the next job. For example, a data analyst may wish to move on to Big Data Developer, so the person simply looks for a project offering that sort of work.
And with each project, you get to know more people – which means more gigs. Contract workers typically develop powerful people networks that benefit their own business and connect others as well.
- Faster career progression
Because a contract worker has a fixed exit date, he or she must start looking for the next job before the current one ends. This means that every time the contract employee goes for a job interview, they can re-negotiate their expectations in terms of salary and benefits rather than wait for a promotion cycle that may take years.
Also, many contract positions are short-term, requiring specialised knowledge. This allows the contract worker to quickly learn a new field and gain experience in its intricacies.
- A different kind of job security
As events have shown us, there is no longer such a thing as “100% job security”. An employee in any industry can be buffeted by the winds of change and find themselves suddenly lost.
Contract work is a built-in failsafe against such a scenario, because you’re the one choosing when it ends. Contract workers typically have ample time to line up their next job before the current one ends, rather than receiving a sudden dismissal. This allows them to negotiate fair terms, plan their career path, and even make time for a holiday.
Also, contract workers are rarely laid off. As they do not count as headcount, they are less likely to be affected by business restructuring or hiring freezes.
- Find your passion
Contract work is great for those of us still figuring things out. It allows you to experience an industry or position, without the feeling that you’ve signed your soul away to a company and will never get it back. It operates on the same principle as the internship – a chance to ‘get your feet wet’ and judge if this is really the path for you.
And if you do discover that this industry or company is where you want to be, have a talk with your boss! Many companies would convert a contractor they know and trust into a permanent employee rather than hire and train someone completely new.
So, while you scroll your job feed, don’t just immediately pass on the contract positions available. Read through them, judge if you’d like it, and apply!
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