Many people hold a misconception that contracting is only for very experienced professionals.
But if you have a few years of experience under your belt, contract work could be a lucrative option for you.
Here are five benefits – and three considerations – of stepping into the contract world early on in your working life:
You’ve probably already heard a contractor’s earnings can be significantly higher than someone carrying out a similar function on a permanent basis. Contractors are often hired with urgency and are paid on a day or hourly rate. Because hirers need a special skill fast, they’re willing to spend more for a shorter period.
Of course, you have to consider potential gaps between assignments. It can be easy to get excited and spend instead of save, but it’s important you’re well prepared for time without an income.
Many contractors choose to have gaps between contracts to allow for a more balanced lifestyle. The higher earnings will allow you to save faster and take time off to travel or spend time with family.
Permanent employment, on the other hand, locks you into a set number of paid holidays, usually with a restriction on consecutive days off.
Contractors are often hired for a specific project and that’s all they’re expected to do. As a contractor, the only meetings you’ll tend to get pulled into are those regarding your project.
Clients will want you to cooperate with their staff but (commonly) you will not be subject to their supervision, direction or control.
Contracting allows you to explore other industries and gain experience in different niches.
Working across different companies and sectors also broadens out your network, ultimately expanding your client base and increasing your prospects.
Being a contractor means you are running your own business, so business development should never be far from your mind.
Using transferrable skills ultimately means you’ll be picking up more skills as you go. For example, if you were made permanent in a role and stayed for three years you may not learn an industry standard skill during that time.
If instead you worked five different contracts in those three years you will almost certainly learn that skill through the variety of jobs and projects.
There isn’t much time for training and lengthy transitions in contract roles. You’ll need to be a fast learner and quick on your feet, but this will permit faster progression.
Even if you eventually move back to permanent employment, contracting early on can help you quickly grow to reach your career goals sooner.
To be a contractor, you must have the skills that are in demand. If your skills are not in demand, your chances of having gaps between contracts are greater.
Not knowing where your next payslip is coming from, or even when it will be coming, can make some people uneasy. You must be able to manage your money well and be prepared for whatever comes next.
Do your research before jumping in to ensure your skills are in demand. Check market updates and research current vacancies.
If you’re somebody who enjoys a stable and consistent working environment, contracting might not be for you.
To make friends and create a network, you need to be sociable. If you are, you’ll probably find contracting provides even more opportunities to meet people.
3. Running your own business
Under IR35, tax legislation to tackle tax avoidance by workers supplying their services via an intermediary, it states that contractors should not be subject to ‘supervision, direction or control’ by their hirers.
In short, you are your own boss. Therefore, you will need a certain degree of business maturity to be a contractor. Do not expect training, appraisals or constant feedback. You are providing a service to your clients as a business and need to treat your client as a customer in the true sense of the word.
If you’ve read this article and are still confident you would succeed as a contractor, don’t hesitate to start sooner rather than later. You can check out our latest contract roles here.
Once you’ve built a network and have a process in place for finding your next job, contracting has a lot to offer.
With more money, more flexibility, fast progression and exciting new challenges, contracting could be your route to a healthy and rewarding working life.