Scoring a full time job with a decent salary is no longer the ultimate career dream. These days, more and more people want flexibility, autonomy and better work-life balance. They want to be their own boss, manage their own schedules and buck the 9-5 trend.
It’s not all that surprising that so many people are opting for the freelancer life, considering how lucrative a consultative career can be compared to permanent employment. When you team the promise of monetary gains with the freedom of working for yourself, it is not hard to see why so many people are turning to temporary work. This shift in the way we work is referred to as the gig economy. It’s a new world where people offer their skills and services to organisations for short term projects.
Is contracting for you? Here are the factors you need to consider:
One of the huge allures of contracting is the level of control you will have over your career. As you are constantly picking and choosing what work you will or won’t apply for or get involved in, you will rarely be stuck with menial tasks you didn’t sign up for. Contractors are hired to complete very specific briefs, so you can be sure of what you’re getting yourself into most of the time.
As a freelancer, you’re also less likely to be weighed down by office politics and micromanagement. The temporary nature of your work will likely reduce the impact of colleagues you don’t like or get along with – they’ll soon be a thing of the past anyway!
Contracting jobs are generally less secure than permanent ones. People who have great skills will get rehired through recommendations and referrals. However, regardless of how good you are at what you do, contractors are subject to high levels of risk. When companies need to reduce outgoings, temporary workers are the ones who often get the chop, all in the name of cost cutting.
Notice periods and redundancy packages don’t apply to contractors. A gentleman’s handshake between you and your boss to say that you’ll be looked after is sometimes as good as your job security gets.
A lot of people will see their pay packet increase as soon as they switch to contracting. The amount of cash you take home each month can be much bigger for freelancers, thanks to hefty day rates that dwarf permanent salaries, different (more favourable) tax codes and less immediate deductions. However, the pay increase is not ALWAYS as substantial as hoped, so check what you’re worth before you take your walk on the wildside.
Sales pitches are part and parcel of a career as a contractor. Do you enjoy job interviews? It doesn’t matter – freelancers have to attend them regularly. With career control and working for yourself comes great responsibility, in the form of pressure to seek out and secure new contracts. Some people love the thrill of pitching to clients and showcasing their skills, and view this element as a huge plus in their career. If the thought makes you nervous, you can team up with a recruiter who can help you to pipeline projects through their extensive contact networks.
Permanent employees can lean on sophisticated functions that exist to support them in the workplace. Contractors operate as one-man bands and don’t have the luxury of an HR department or finance team to sort out their employment affairs for them. They also aren’t given the same professional development opportunities as full time staff, as they are not as worthwhile an investment. There are trade associations and professional bodies to support you in your career though, so you’re not completely alone. Also, seeing as there are so many freelancers out there, you can easily join networks to mingle with likeminded professionals!
Permanent employees are offered excellent perks to keep them happy in their jobs. Contractors might be paid more, but they don’t get the same level of TLC. Sick days, pensions, holiday leave, health insurance and bonuses are not part of a freelancer’s contract.
It’s important to consider ALL of the factors before making your debut in the gig economy. Do your research and talk to people in your network who’ve already made the move. If you want to chase independence and dollar signs, weigh up your risks first… Maybe it’s time to give it a go! It could be the start of a whole new ‘you’.