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Learn about contract work benefits and if it’s right for you

Contract work is a great way to boost your resume and get the hands-on experience you need to break into an industry. And it’s a good option for experienced professionals who want flexibility.

The benefits don’t stop there for contractors whose skills are in demand, so it’s easy to see why experts anticipate the U.S. workforce will be 40% contract workers/freelancers by 2020. But like so many things in life, there are also some tradeoffs involved. Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision between full-time and contract work.

1. Higher contract earnings

Contractors earn more money than employees do. It’s that simple. Contractors are usually hired with urgency. They’re paid on a daily/hourly rate that exceeds their employee counterparts’ pay. Hiring companies are willing to spend this extra money in order to fill positions fast. But they’ll dole it out for a shorter period.

As long as you’re prepared for potential gaps in work, you can survive the lulls between assignments. It’s as easy as saving a little instead of spending it all while you’re earning.

And in order to be successful as a contractor, you need to have the skills that are in demand. For example, companies often need customized software development in a pinch, so they’ll contract a full-stack developer for the expertise they need. And they’ll pay top dollar for it. Meanwhile data entry keyers are falling victim to automation and more user-friendly tech that allow anyone, not just those with specialized skillsets, to operate them. The moral of the story is: make sure you’re in demand before you bolt from your full-time gig.

2. Flexibility isn’t just for yoga

Want to work less than 40 hours a week? Or take a “jobcation” between assignments? Contract work allows for that kind of work-life balance. If you’re in demand and work gaps aren’t a concern, your high earnings can help you save faster so you can choose to take time off for travel or to spend with family.

With permanent employment you have only a set number of paid holidays, and the number of consecutive days you can take are usually limited.

The main question to ask yourself is, “am I someone who prefers a consistent working environment.” If long-term stability matters more than flexibility, unpredictable contract work is probably a deal breaker for you.

3. More focus with contract work

Contractors are usually hired for a specific purpose: to complete a project or assist with tasks that have already been identified. If the company maximizes the time that they have you, you should be able to dodge a majority of meetings that don’t pertain to your work. Of course, you’ll be expected to coordinate and cooperate with some staff members, but more often than not you’ll work autonomously and won’t be subjected to the same management as full-time employees.

Since feedback can vary among employers, a certain degree of business maturity is needed to help you efficiently manage your time.

4. Increased client base & network

Contract work lets you try an industry, role, and company on for size. It helps you gain experience, which is great if you’re fresh on the job scene. You’ll rub elbows along the way, expanding your network in terms of client base, prospects, and colleagues who can refer you down the road.

Successful contracting often depends on how well you network and tap your resources. So you’ll have to ask yourself, “am I sociable?” If you’re more of a lone wolf, it might be harder for you to learn about and land paid opportunities.

5. Develop your skills

Contractors wear a lot of hats throughout their various jobs and projects. With each role, you’ll learn new skills that you’ll carry with you when you move on to the next opportunity. The more skills that fill your toolbox, the more employers will value you and want to work with you.

Contract roles don’t allow much time to get up to speed. You’ll need to be a fast learner and quick on your feet. If you’re someone who takes their time transitioning and learning new responsibilities, you’ll find traditional employment is more suited to your pace.

If after reading all of this you’re confident you can succeed as a contractor, start applying immediately! Contracting can be a very rewarding career choice, even with potential challenges along the way. You can get started by checking out our open contract positions here.