Should You Leave Your Full Time IT Job for Contract Work?
In recent years, the availability and scope of contract employment has been expanding, especially in the IT field. There are more opportunities today for contract employees than ever before, and many workers are leaving behind traditional, full-time jobs to exclusively seek contract work. While it’s true that independant contract work is not right for everyone, many IT professionals have successfully made the move from a full-time IT employee role to an IT contractor role. While this trend takes off, a lot of IT professionals are beginning to see the many benefits that contract work has to offer. However, what types of workers fit best into these roles, and what can you expect to gain from working as a contractor vs as a full time employee?
Who Is a Great Fit for Contract Work?
Contract work is definitely not a perfect fit for every employee, but it can be a good choice if you feel stuck in your current position or need more flexibility with your schedule. If you’re tired of the regular 9-5 shift working for the same company every day as a full time employee or think you’re in a position with no room for growth, working as a contract employee instead can allow you to gain valuable experience and skills so you can take a step forward in your career. And while many contract jobs may require you to be available during business hours, you’re given more freedom with how and when to work, including remote opportunities. This can be appealing when thinking about your work life balance, and working remotely and determining your own hours can provide the flexibility you are looking for.
Maybe you aren’t quite happy in your current full-time role but aren’t sure what kind of work is really right for you. Working as an independent contractor gives you a chance to try out different types of positions in a shorter period of time so you can learn more about where your particular skill set can flourish. You won’t have to make a long-term commitment to any one employer, and you won’t come off as a “job-hopper” on your resume. You’re instead working on many short-term projects, and varying your work experience, which can be a major plus for your resume.
Potential Risks and Costs for Contract Work
People who are single or are married to a spouse with a steady income may find that contract work is perfect for their lifestyles. Indeed, they may have fewer expenses to cover. This work can sometimes be risky, though, as steady work isn’t always guaranteed. Sometimes contracts can be short, lasting only a few months, which means you’ll be job seeking and applying to and interviewing for positions a lot more. When a contract ends, you can be stuck in a position where you don’t have a way to earn money while you look for a new role, and it may take you days or weeks to find consistent work.
As you are a temporary employee, employee benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, and other ways employees receive benefits will likely not be available to you. You will be responsible for other fees as well, such as doing your own taxes. These can add up quickly, as independent contractors are responsible for filing their own income taxes, social security tax, and paying for your own equipment that full time employees usually don’t have to account for. This is why it’s important to make sure you can afford to be without work for short periods if you’re thinking of switching to a contract position.
What Are the Benefits?
If you’re considering leaving your full-time employment for contract work, it’s important to weigh both the pros and the cons. One of the most obvious unique benefits of contract work is that contractors get to work for a wide variety of clients and learn a lot of new skills along the way. For every new contractor position you take on, you’ll have a different role and new responsibilities for a specific project, which means you’ll get a lot of exposure to different tasks working multiple contract jobs. On the other hand, if you’re stuck in the same full-time employment for years, it’s unlikely that your position will change very much, and you won’t have many opportunities to learn new things working for one company.
Keeping Up With the Industry
Because you’ll be consistently working on a different project, it’s easier to keep up with changes in technology and stay on top of the latest trends. And in some of the roles you take on, you may have the chance to gain leadership experience and take on managerial roles. That is not something that’s always available to employees in full-time IT jobs, as working as a permanent employee typically means the same permanent role throughout your employment.
Even though some jobs may be short-term, you’ll make a lot of valuable connections along the way. Contract work is a great way to network with many different people, which can help you find future openings that match your skillset. Think about it this way: for each project a contractor completes, you’re making a set of experiences and connections in the industry. Hiring managers will remember you and the stellar work you did, even if for a short period, and suggest you to their colleagues who need similar services. You’ll gain lots of great experience by going to more job interviews, and you’ll become an expert at identifying great opportunities.
For the most part, contracts last for an agreed-upon period of time (usually 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, but some can last for years), so you don’t always have to be worried about sudden layoffs or firings. In many cases, it’s more cost-effective for employers to hire contract workers, which means they are able to pay you more. But remember, a lot of contract positions don’t offer benefits as traditional full-time roles do, so you’ll have to think about things like purchasing insurance and saving for retirement on your own. And taking a few days off between contracts can be a good idea, as you most likely won’t get paid time off.
Is Contracting Right for Me?
Taking the leap from a stable, full-time job into the world of contract work can be a little scary to think about, but thousands of IT professionals have made it work and made a lot of money doing so! Take a step back and look at where you are in your career. Even if you’re currently happy in the job you have, think about your chances of promotion. Are you regularly gaining new skills and seeing upward momentum, or do you feel like you may be stagnating and getting complacent?
Contract work is a great idea if you’re ready to take a gamble and potentially gain valuable skills and experience. The best way to find contract roles is by getting in touch with recruiters online, sharing your resume with them, and telling them what kind of work you’re looking for. But know that as contract work becomes a more popular form of employment, the market will get increasingly more competitive. Remember to keep your resume updated with every contract that you complete, adding new skills and achievements as you gain them.