Times they are a changing. With nearly 40% of the future workforce migrating to freelance work, the definition of a successful career is being redefined with contract jobs.
It’s not surprising that the number of people taking on contract work has increased. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, there are about 40 percent contingent workers in the U.S. labor force alone. Contingent workers can take on several forms, which can include but is not limited to freelancing, part-time work, and independent contractors.
There are a number of pros and cons of contract employment. Pro: the freedom that comes with choosing the work you want. Con: it can be a bit unstable when it comes to paychecks. So if contract work has its ups and downs, why are more and more people applying for temp positions?
Who Should Apply to Contract Jobs?
Different people take on contract work for various reasons. Here are some examples of who should apply to contact jobs.
- Students, especially fresh college graduates, can try temp positions while they hunt for their dream jobs. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for those who are still not sure about a certain career path, or grads that intend to travel for a while before committing to a company.
- Another advantage of contract work is that you can get a taste for a potential client or firm before taking that leap. It’s also a great way to earn on top of your regular pay (so long as it’s not in conflict with your current work).
- If you’ve been laid off or are unemployed, contract work will offer you decent income while job searching. Plus, it’s a chance for you to sharpen your skills in time for that permanent position.
From students, career shifters, to the unemployed, contract work is a good opportunity to learn and to earn. But it isn’t for everyone. If you’re not good with budgeting or you don’t like idea of instability, this type of employment may NOT be for you.
Contract Work Do’s and Don’ts
Should you decide that you like the advantages of contract work, there are several things you need to keep in mind before closing the deal.
- Project duration. How long will the assignment last? Is the position secured or is the company headhunting even if they haven’t landed the business yet? Knowing the duration of work can help put priorities in perspective (i.e. you have time to quit once you’ve found a permanent position).
- Pay rates. Be clear if you’ll be hired as a W-2 employee OR as a 1099 contractor. The difference lies in taxes. Being classified as 1099 means you’ll get full pay without tax deductions. The contrary applies to W-2. If you’re unsure, try seeking advice from a qualified accountant or employer attorney.
- Temp-to-hire. Ask if the position will be temp-to-hire. This means that if they like your performance, you might be asked to stay. NOT all contract work leads to permanent employment – but it’s better than not asking at all.
- Project End. What will happen once the contract expires? Are you free to apply to similar jobs? How will your contract affect future job searches?
If you’re presented with a contract, review it thoroughly OR go over it with your staffing agency. DO clarify specific such as: overtime pay (if applicable), training, and exact duties. If there are parts of your contract that you don’t agree with, negotiate. NEVER sign anything you’re not 100 percent sure of.
What To Watch Out For
You might be ecstatic about your contract job position, but don’t forget: you’re still on searching for the right job. As the name implies, it’s only TEMPORARY – even if you’ve become a contingent worker for several years already.
Ready to hit the job market again? Here are some points to ensure your temp work reflects positively on your favor:
- AVOID listing all the companies or businesses that you worked for. Whether it’s five or 15, limit the list to only the relevant few that will put the spotlight on your skills. Besides, your resume could only hold so much. If you worked with a staffing agency, list that as your employer for the years you worked as a temp.
- Only PICK projects that are appropriate for the job you’re applying for. Use bullet points to highlight specific details about the assignments you undertook.
- Sensing hiring managers might be reluctant to hire? INCLUDE glowing references from the businesses or companies who loved your performance. If they can vouch for you as to why you weren’t able to continue as a perm (i.e. no open positions available), hiring managers will understand and be more open.
- HIGHLIGHT the fact that working with different companies has made you flexible and highly adaptable to constant changes. This skill is always a plus for many recruiters.
It’s up to YOU to ultimately decide if it’s the right move during your job search. While contract employment may provide you with pay in the meantime, restrictive agreements may put you in a bind later. Be sure to consult experienced professionals for areas you’re not familiar with.
With caution and a bit of luck, contract work while job searching could be your most fruitful venture yet.
Author Bio: Cris Antonio is the Chief Editor of Scoopfed.com. She’s currently focused on helping healthcare workers and millennials find better career opportunities through Locum Tenens. Aside from writing, Cris also enjoys painting, collecting toys, and reading German novels. Get to know her better on LinkedIn.