What does it take to be a contract worker?
Moving from one short term contract to another can be an ideal way of preventing career boredom whilst earning good money.
By working as a contractor, you can experience a wider range of opportunities and acquire a broader range of transferable skills to use to your advantage.
You'll have a degree of real control over when and where you work, sometimes taking those opportunities which not only earn you money but also improve your skills, experience - and even enjoyment.
Contracting provides the chance to meet new people and make important networking contacts. You can also keep up to date with new developments as well as the challenges faced by your industry.
Generally you won't be tied to long notice periods so you can change jobs as soon as new opportunities arise.
So, how can you make sure you get the most out of each role? Being a contract worker has many advantages - often the most crucial is that you�re your own boss and you can choose the opportunities you wish to pursue.
However it's worth remembering that not everything is in your favour. You'll have to pay for your own training, under difficult economic conditions you may have to take work where you can find it and y ou won't be able to really establish achieve leadership roles or take advantage of promotion opportunities within the company you contract work for
Thinking long term
The decision to go contract can be a difficult one unless you have a clear understanding of how it can work to your advantage.
You also need to look ahead and ask whether contract working provides a long term career path and whether it is going to work during downturns.
In other words will it open up opportunities that could take your career further - or will your short term success begin to dwindle?
If you have a specific skill-set and are willing to retrain to stay on top, this is crucial, but you also need to consider the wider strategic possibilities as trends change within your industry.
There are a number of different reasons why employers use contractors and once you understand these, you can market your skills and offer your services much more effectively.
- Flexibility - Being able to match a contract worker with specific skills to a specific job over the short term dispenses with costly training and time lags.
- Cost saving - Your costs, even though often greater than a permanent employee, can be planned and set against the project in question. Once the project is finished your costs stop.
- Time saving - Recruitment processes for a permanent position can be long with many people to consider, whereas most companies are more efficient when it comes to hiring people on a contract.
- Access to the latest skills - Your up-to-date skills can be deployed faster and benefit the company in question, keeping them up to date with, or ahead of, the competition.
Ways to be a contract worker.
One option when working as a contractor is to operate as your own company. This gives you the opportunity to create your own brand and more importantly manage your own tax and earnings.
You might also look at becoming a contractor within an umbrella company. This relieves you of the hassles and costs of forming your own limited company. They will bill your work and then pays you a net rate with the appropriate levels of tax and national insurance deducted.
This is sometimes a good way to get started if you think contract work is for you but have no real experience of it.
Is it for you?
If you are self-motivated and like to seek out different opportunities rather be established within one company then you should ask yourself:
- Is the sector you are operating in one which traditionally recruits a large proportion of contract personnel?
- Is your sector one where contract rates outstrip salaries as a result of high demand and scarce supply?
Ultimately, once you have looked at the logical reasons for going contract, much also depends upon your personality and individual circumstances.
You can always try it and see if it works for you. After all, many contractors end up being employed and many employees have turned to becoming contractors. Your choice does not have to be set in stone forever.