Stop whatever you’re doing, close your eyes, and think about your ideal job opportunity. Can you envision it? You’ve probably thought about the industry, salary, and specialty that role might encompass, but I’m willing to bet the timeframe of your perfect role didn’t even cross your mind.

And why would it? To be employed is to be employed full-time, right? Most of us pursue jobs to stave off the prospect of uncertainty and scarcity. Why would we accept anything other than a permanent role—like a contract position, for example—that could end and leave us searching again?

Well, I’m glad you asked! As it turns out, contract roles have many benefits that you may not have considered, even when compared with the trustworthy full-time role. Believe it or not, many people who take contract positions stand to experience a higher level of job satisfaction because of higher pay, greater flexibility, and wider exposure. Let’s look at a pair of hypothetical young technologists—we’ll call them Jack and Jane—to break things down.

The Story of Jack & Jane

Both Jack and Jane pursued Computer Science degrees in college. After graduation, Jack landed a full-time job at an established corporate powerhouse. Today, he gets a 3 percent increase every year, almost like clockwork, and he’s not required to learn much in the way of new technology. This has made him an expert in a narrow field but leaves him underexposed to new and developing platforms. He’s comfortable, but bored, wondering what technology he could be learning and languishing in his set work schedule and predictable routine.

Jane, on the other hand, decided to go with contracting right out of school. She now spends six to 18 months in a given role, her work tasks never become too repetitive, and she gains exposure to various technological environments. This readily offers her a clear advantage compared to someone who has only worked at one organization for most of their career. As most technologists already know, adaptability is one of the key traits that determines a successful tech career, so Jane has put herself in a position to become more adaptable at a quicker pace than her peers.

Let’s not forget compensation. Jane actually earns more over the course of her contract roles than Jack does over the same period of time—this is because Jane’s employers don’t need to pay for benefits, unemployment insurance, or holiday pay, leaving more money in each paycheck. Additionally, Jane often sees $15-20K increases after each contract since she’s able to build experience at an exponential rate.

And what could be more valuable than time? Not in terms of contract duration, but in terms of quality time spent away from work. Whenever Jack’s full-time job gets especially hectic, he often finds himself googling “How to ask your employer for a paid sabbatical” or something similar. Jane doesn’t have that problem because, as the end of her contract nears, she knows she can either pursue the next employment opportunity or take extended time off to travel, visit family, or whatever she chooses.

The Rest of the Contract Employment Story

Before you go away thinking that contract positions are your “golden ticket,” with little to no trade-off involved, don’t forget to take a holistic view of what your contract role entails. Some staffing and consulting firms—like BridgeView, for example—offer competitive benefits such as medical coverage, vision and dental insurance, 401k matching, and more. But this isn’t the case everywhere, so be aware that benefits can vary greatly by contract opportunity. Health insurance coverage is still mandatory in some states and most people rely on some form of coverage in order to receive basic healthcare services. Don’t let yourself get surprised by higher premiums after starting your next role!

Also keep in mind that what you receive in experience, you may lack in terms of connection with teammates, colleagues, and company leadership. It’s not uncommon for contractors to feel separated from the rest of the organization, and getting to know your coworkers can fall by the wayside if you’re only planning to be with the company for a short time. Regular employees do have an easier time building camaraderie and networks of support, so if you’re jumping into the contract world, be prepared to work more as a lone wolf, and less as a part of the herd.

And lastly, keep in mind that contract workers must constantly look ahead for the next opportunity. The right recruiter can absolutely help ease this burden, however, making this requirement far less daunting. Skilled teams like the one at BridgeView are adept at connecting IT professionals with jobs that match their skills, and align with long-term goals. That’s why we’re here! So, if you’ve read up on the pros and cons and still feel more like a Jack than a Jane, rest assured there’s a whole frontier of exciting contract opportunities awaiting you. Here’s hoping we can put you on a more satisfying career path soon.

Interested in the freedom and flexibility contract roles can bring? Get in touch with BridgeView today!

Written: February 2022