Today’s post is part two of a series that will highlight the pro’s and the con’s of becoming a contractor; if you missed the first part you can get up to speed here. In this second part, I will list all the benefits I’ve personally experienced from being a contractor. Becoming a contractor isn’t definitely for everyone but if some of the items in this list resonate with you, may want to check out my guide about how to break into the contract market.
Money: No matter how much we love our jobs, at the end of the day it is called ‘work’ for a reason. From my own personal philosophy if I’m going to give up 7 hours 5 days a week I wanted to be compensated as highly as I can. From my own income, I can say the difference between a permanent role and a contracting role can be four times more. When you start off contracting, the way you deal with money will also need change. In the coming weeks, I will need to write a post about the basics of money in our business, but for now, trust me that you will have to take on a lot more responsibility.
Freedom: I remember working for a company several years’ ago and they won a ‘big’ contract to design a website for a very dull client. The website was extremely basic and I had no enthusiasm for it, the worst part of the project was that it was expected to take six months to build… think about it six months of your life working on something that you don’t even want to! Now, I’m not saying that when you become a contractor life’s all roses and you’ll solely work on cool projects, what I can say is you get to choose what you work on. I’ve been fortunate enough, a few times, to have a choice of several contracts and the one I pick isn’t always the highest paid one; it’ll be the one with the technologies I want to work on or for a really cool client. The thing to take away from this is that I get to choose my career path, it’s not dictated by anyone else.
More Potential: When you start contracting you will need to set-up your own business (this is definitely not as frightening as it may sound). After you have everything set-up, there is nothing stopping you branching out into other areas. If I said to you now go out and win a client, you would probably be clueless about all the hurdles surrounding payment and contracts. When you start dipping your toes into the contracting world and start learning all this useful business knowledge, you will be a lot more primed to jump on future opportunities as they arise.
Be Your Own Boss: You decide to start contracting, you become a director of your own company – now what? Well for starters… you have no holiday day limit! As I’m writing this I’m in June and I’ve already had 20 days off. Of course, every day I don’t work I don’t get paid but I’ve been at companies that only give you 20 days off a year. One of my close friends can’t come to a gig with us at the end of the year as he has run out of holidays.. as a contractor as long as you’re sensible with money you can take as long as you want between contracts.
Variety: One thing contracting is not is boring. Sure you might get one or two dull contracts once in a while, but on the other hand, you constantly get to change where you work and the people you work with. Over the years, I’ve met some great people that if I’d only worked permanently I may never have met. When you go into a new company they normally have different processes, systems and ways of working. The more you move around the better your experience becomes. If you ever want to go back to permanent, then you will have definitely boosted your CV with a load of new tools and ideas that just simply isn’t possible to someone who only has 2 or 3 jobs every 10 years.
No Politics: For me this is one of the biggest things I love about contracting.. there are no politics. Normally, when someone is looking for a contract, a company has a job they need doing. As a contractor, all you have to do is concentrate on doing a great job and that’s it. You don’t need to worry about trying to impress someone to get a promotion, you don’t have to worry about the internal politics or any of the dramas. When I get a contract, of course, I want it to succeed and I’ll work to the best of my abilities to make sure that happens… what I’ve never cared about is all the ass kissing, schoolyard drama that goes with it… now I don’t have to 🙂
You’re Responsible For Your Own Learning: After you become a contractor, the chances are that you won’t get sent on training, you won’t suddenly be expected to work on systems or languages you have no interest in learning. The responsibility is squarely yours to keep abreast with the latest trends. The good news.. you get to choose what you keep on with. If you think making IOS apps are really cool, start reading books and winning small freelance gigs. After a few months, there’s nothing stopping you winning at IOS contract. If you’re stuck in a 9-5 and your company doesn’t work in mobile… you may as well forget your passions now and be prepared to just work on whatever you get told.
It’s Easier To Get Jobs! The longer you contract the broader your skill-set becomes. The funny thing is the most experienced you are the more hireable you become. I remember when starting out in my career, I was told repeatedly that I needed to stick at a company for a few years otherwise I’d never get a job. Fast forward 6 years later, my frequent job swapping is not a massive disadvantage as I’ve got a lot broader range of experience compared to other people in my own age group.
So there you go.. I personally think that’s a really compelling list to make someone think about becoming a contractor. Personally, I’m still amazed why more people don’t do it.