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Making a career from contracting

by Scott Logan

The benefits of making a career as a contractor

The routine of full time employment is a comforting place for most people. In contrast, there is something fascinating and oddly tempting about the perceived freedom and flexibility of being self-employed. If you’re considering a switch across into the world of contracting, you’re not alone.

In August 2016, the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that more than 1 million people in Australia were working as contractors. Interesting to note; while many believe Millennials are chasing the bright lights of non-9-5 roles, 55% of contracts around the country are held by people aged 45 years and over, according to the ABS.

Contracting isn’t for everyone. Candidates we meet often waver in their decision-making between a) wanting to climb the corporate ladder when they don’t have the commitments of family, and b) preferring more flexibility once they do.

The benefits of contracting

Thriving on new challenges

Contracting offers the opportunity to grow your experiences, skills and professional networks by exposure to new projects within one, or across varied companies, industries and brands. Anyone determined not to be pigeonholed in their career will thrive on the continued change and challenge that comes with contracting.

Financial freedom

In general, contractors earn more than salaried employees. Businesses are used to paying for effective, short-term project delivery and outcomes; resulting in contract work paid on an average higher hourly rate than a salaried employee. Contractors don’t get paid for holidays, downtime or being sick, something worth considering if you like “me time”.

Flexibility

Motivated and adaptable self-starters will be drawn to the idea of setting their own days, hours and location of work. Flexible working arrangements are an often-envied perk of contractors’ roles.

Long-term opportunities

Contractors who demonstrate integrity and a dedicated approach to their contract work, no matter how long the term, may be offered projects on a long-term, continuous basis with companies they contract to, providing a regular and stable source of income.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

A less thought of benefit to contracting is knowing that your only focus while on the clock, is getting your work done in the most efficient, cost-effective and timely manner. Contracting means avoiding the regular office politics and bureaucracy that permanent employees often get caught up in and that can be the underlying reason people become disenchanted with their job in the first place.

Look before you leap

While there are great personal benefits to working as a contractor, it’s important to stop and make sure your reasons for leaving full-time employment are sincere. Independent contractors need to be motivated, genuinely interested and available when applying for roles, so wanting to try something new “just because”, will likely result in disappointment.

Clients who hire talent on a contract basis absolutely expect them to have the appropriate skills and knowledge relevant to the industry and/or project they are assigned to. Clients are looking for self-starters who can jump in and deliver on time and on budget, so it’s important that you are realistic about the reasons and type of work you are looking to bank a career change on.