Professionals who work for an agency or individual for a specified period are contract employees. Unlike permanent employees who solely work for one employer, contractors can offer services to various clients and earn money once they fulfill their contractual obligations. Learning the impact of contract work on your career flexibility, qualifications and income can allow you to choose between temporary or permanent employment. In this article, we discuss the definition and benefits of contract work and offer tips for becoming a temporary employee.
What is contract work?
Contract work is the rendering of a specialized service from a self-employed individual who then receives compensation in return. The type of arrangement depends on the needs of the company that pays for the service. Some contract employees may complete one project, while others may continue working with an organization for an extended period of time. Contract professionals are not permanent employees with the company that requests their work, which means they may not follow the same policies as internal associates. Working contractually can be helpful for individuals who want to start their careers or enter a new field.
8 Benefits of contract work
The advantages of being a contract employee include:
1. Flexible work schedule
A flexible work schedule enables contract employees to work when they want. Permanent employees often adhere to an agenda that their managers create, or they handle their duties during the business hours the company is open. Yet, contract professionals can establish their own availability at times that are convenient for them. The moment they start an assignment and their deadline for delivering the final product are parts of the agreements they make with the client. The contractor typically promotes their preferences for scheduling, which allows them to choose their own hours and receive payment for work on their terms.
For instance, a small business enlists a photographer to capture photos of its new building. The photographer tells the business owner she is only available to conduct photo shoots on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Both parties agree to a time that aligns with the photographer’s schedule. The client can gain the services for the building, and the photographer can still work on the designated days and times she prefers.
2. Better maintenance of a work-life balance
Another benefit of contract work is the ability to manage a personal life with your career. Having a work-life balance allows you to achieve professional growth and fund your lifestyle without sacrificing your free time. With a flexible work schedule, you can reserve moments to do things you love, such as spending time with family and friends or practicing your favorite hobbies. It can also provide mental and emotional health, preventing you from feeling overwhelmed with your occupational duties.
Having a work-life balance may be significant if you want to make other accomplishments while gaining work experience. Perhaps you’re enrolled in classes at a university, for example, and you need the extra hours to attend lectures and study the course material. Consider becoming a contract employee to have more control over the amount of time you devote to work and personal obligations.
3. Maximum of compensation
Contract professionals can maximize the payment they receive from clients. In traditional employment, the company often deducts money from paychecks to cover benefits packages, such as health insurance and retirement plans. Full-time permanent employees may also receive salaries, which means they earn a set amount of money regardless of the number of hours they work, excluding overtime. However, contract employees typically earn a guaranteed amount of money per hour they work. For instance, their paycheck from working 10 hours may be greater than their paycheck from working eight hours. Plus, they can keep the funds that would’ve otherwise funded benefits.
4. Minimal pressure to be successful
The pressure to have a successful career may only stem from a temporary employee’s own work ethic, not from expectant employers. When a manager hires you for a permanent position, they may require you to reach certain milestones after you adjust to the role, and they typically supervise your productivity and track your progress.
As a contractor, you often have control over the projects you work on and your approach to finishing tasks. Essentially, you act as your own supervisor, which minimizes the pressure to perform at a particular level professionally. It may be solely up to you to establish your standards for growth. Since you’re not aiming to satisfy another individual’s expectations, you can focus more on your work and the parts you enjoy.
5. Smaller commitment
Contract work can provide greater mobility with less commitment than traditional employment. The client may only require you to work on a project until its completion. Then, you can seek work with a different company and enter a new, brief contract. As a permanent employee, the human resources department may require you to undergo a formal resignation procedure to stop working at the company. Another organization may hold you to similar pledges before you can work full time. Contract employees, though, can diversify their work experiences more easily, since you only agree to collaborate with the agency for a limited time.
For example, a contract architect partners with one company to build a new hotel in the downtown area. Once the grand opening of the hotel occurs, the architect has executed his contractual obligations with the company and receives payment, freeing up his schedule to participate in a new endeavor. The next project is construction for an upscale restaurant, and the architect informs the client that their partnership would be complete once the building process finishes. A smaller commitment may be profitable for you if you want to work with multiple clients simultaneously or try a different project frequently.
6. Opportunities to learn new skills
Due to the increased mobility of contract work, temporary employees have more chances to learn new skill sets. Every project may require a unique approach or ability, such as managing different technology. The client may also invite you to partake in different training programs, which can help you build innovative strategies for your career. You can experiment with new approaches and identify ones that best fit your interests.
For example, a content writer provides writing and editing services to small businesses. Each business has a different target audience and writing style, requiring the writer to adhere to style guides and increase their average word counts to meet deadlines. The writer learns how to boost their productivity in less time and deliver quality pieces to reach diverse demographics. The versatility of their clientele exposed them to new chances that may not have been possible as an internal employee.
7. Less competition for jobs
Fewer professionals may pursue contract work than permanent positions, which makes the former employment type less competitive. You can gain experience in your industry and participate in interesting projects without undergoing extensive interview and onboarding processes. There may be less pressure to structure your resume to pass pre-screening and compete against other qualified candidates. The smaller the number of candidates vying for the same role, the higher the chance you can fulfill the job and earn a living from your services.
For example, for a full-time information technology position, the employer may receive 100 applications. However, temporary employees can persuade the company to pay them for their technology services for a limited period, which saves the employer the time and resources for recruiting and orienting new employees. Working with organizations temporarily may be beneficial if you want to build a career in a saturated field.
8. Entry into full-time work
Contract employment can also expose you to full-time job opportunities in your industry. An employer can evaluate the quality of your work and note how your skills contribute positively to the company. Since you’re already familiar with the employer’s preferences from your contract, you can differentiate your qualifications from other job candidates seeking a permanent role. Also, the hiring manager may feel more confident in your success as a full-time employee since your contract performance may have already impressed them.
For example, a graphic designer creates visual content for a nonprofit organization contractually. The graphics helped the nonprofit establish its brand with consistent color schemes and logo placement on all its public materials. The organization opens a full-time graphic designer position, and the contract employee applies. He leverages his longstanding, positive contractual relationship with the nonprofit, and the recruiter hires him. He can also adjust more easily to his new job because of his knowledge of the organization’s branding.
Tips for being a contract employee
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in contract employment, consider following these tips:
Balance your work schedule with your personal life
Think about your ideal workday as a contract employee. Plan your occupational activities around personal matters, such as picking your children up from school or taking frequent vacations. You can implement a work-life balance and create a productive routine when completing assignments for clients. The companies you work with may prefer you to communicate your availability in advance, so it might be helpful to determine how you want to handle projects before you promote your services.
Establish a personal brand
A personal brand describes who you are as a contract professional. You can use it to promote your services and attract potential clients, which can help you guarantee steady sources of income. Consider establishing your brand on social media. Create content that advertises the work you produce, the payment rates you require and the availability you can complete assignments. It might also be helpful to develop a logo and business cards that differentiate your work from other contractors.
Contemplate the types of companies or individuals who can benefit from your services and design a persona that illustrates why they should pay you to complete projects on their behalf.
Connect with professionals in your field
Having a strong network of industry relationships can also help you find work as a contractor. Once you finish a task for one client, consider requesting them to refer you to acquaintances that may be interested in rendering your services. You can learn of developing projects in your field and expand your clientele.
Connecting with professionals can also enable you to transition to full-time employment. Your network may refer you to open positions that fit your interests, and the success of previous collaborations can make a positive first impression on hiring managers. Although you’re not working in a traditional office setting as a contract employee, you can still strive to build a good professional reputation to ensure your work and income are continuous.
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