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Deciding Between Permanent Or Contract Work

Aug 28, 2008
Contract work has grown enormously as an alternative to traditional staff jobs. Those facing a job search are often tempted to explore the possibility of controlling their own destiny and flying on their own.

It's important to consider the highs and lows of both work models in order to conduct the most focused job search. Prospective contractors should review not only the pros and cons, but also evaluate their own personality to determine if it's the best fit.

The World of Contractors

A major attraction for contractors is that they typically earn better pay than permanent employees doing similar work. Contractors earn more because they are temporary and the company isn't obliged to take on the burden of benefits, health/unemployment insurance, or paid vacations for them.

Another big draw for contractors is the flexibility of their schedules. Contractors can take on work when they wish and arrange breaks, vacation or travel as they please.

Hiring contractors is often seen as a more attractive option for employers, especially if they are not in a position to add to the head count of permanent staff.

Good contractors are always in job search mode, actively engaged in networking and armed with an updated CV. Contractors can stay a step ahead of permanent employees caught unawares by layoffs and facing the stress of having to quickly rework an antiquated CV template and rush into an unexpected job search.

Office politics and intrigues are less likely to affect contractors.

Contractors are exposed to varied settings and work personalities, honing their ability to adjust to diverse groups and cope with projects at different stages.

The Permanent Solution

A key shortcoming in contract work is the lack of job security compared to permanent employees. In cases of company restructuring, permanent employees may have more job security although there are cases where contractors outlast the regular staff.

Permanent workers receive company benefits and/or incentives unlike contractors. If contractors miss work, they're not paid and their absence is less likely to be excused. If they turn down a job, contractors risk being passed over the next time.

Permanent staff enjoy periodic pay rises, evaluations and promotions; this is far less common with contractors. Because they are temporary, contractors find it difficult to move into management roles. Companies are more likely to invest in training and retaining their permanent employees.

Permanent workers have a fixed place of employment while contractors must go where the jobs are. Contractors may need to commute on demand unless the project can be done off site.

Another negative aspect of being a hired hand is that contractors are not usually given much ownership of a project. Unlike permanent staff, their opinions may not count as much and they may not even be around to see the end result.

Contractors are less likely to be trusted with confidential projects and could lose out on more interesting work to permanent employees who get first pick.

What's Right For You?

As you update or create your CV and embark on your job search, take a long, honest look at your personality.

Those who prefer the security of an established job, benefits, and promotions may be more likely to thrive in a permanent position.

On the other hand, if you have the self-motivation and drive to handle a variety of projects and settings, the commitment to update your skills, and the fiscal discipline to manage a business, then you may enjoy contract work.

Other variables such as age, experience, family and financial commitments will help you decide how to focus your current job search.

Note that there are exceptions to the above list of pros and cons. There are contractors who outlast permanent staff, permanent employees trapped under the yoke of autocratic management, and layoffs that might axe a senior employee while retaining one or more contractors.

The Key to Your Job Search: Your Online CV

Even if you're not currently in job search mode, you should always maintain a current CV. While numerous CV templates are available, they all use a different format and recruiters often struggle to decode them in order to assess a candidate. By creating a great online CV, both contractors and traditional workers can leverage a format preferred by most leading UK recruiters.
About the Author
Peter Whitehead is commissioned to write articles for iProfile, the preferred CV template. iProfile brings the Online CV into the 21st Century.
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