In my time as a recruitment consultant I’ve heard stories from both sides of the permanent or contract divide. Everyone seems to have their own take on it. The truth is there’s no right or wrong – everyone needs to find out what works for them.
In this post I’ve brought together some of the main factors which you should take into account when deciding what is best for you…
FIRST UP, THE BENEFITS OF CONTRACTING:
Contractors are generally better paid than their permanent counterparts. This is because employers are not required to provide benefits such as healthcare and sick pay. If you work through a limited company then there are also allowances and other expenses which make tax efficiencies. Typically, contractors work on an ‘hours worked = hours paid’ basis meaning engineers often qualify for overtime.
Isn’t variety meant to be the spice of life? As a contractor you get to work in a variety of environments and take part in a diverse range of projects. You also experience different work cultures and personalities, making new contacts in every role. This can seriously fill out both your CV and your phonebook.
As you are always one step removed, contractors rarely find themselves being dragged into office politics or getting caught up in the gossip. Cutting out these unnecessary distractions not only saves time making you a more efficient worker, but also takes a lot of stress out of the equation.
You can tailor contracts to fit your lifestyle. Contractors are not restricted to a rigid holiday schedule and exactly how you want to work is up to you. Whether this manifests as a 4 day week or an early finish, it’s good to know the flexibility is there should you need it. (However, recent reports show that such flexibility benefits some more than others!)
People tend to view contractors as workers who turn up one day, do their thing and then disappear off into the sunset never to be seen again. You might be surprised by how often this is not the case. Once they’ve successfully completed a project and, in doing so, demonstrated understanding of the company’s product portfolio, many contractors will be invited back for future opportunities. Plenty of the engineers I know deal with the same clients multiple times over the course of their career.
NOW, LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN. HERE ARE A FEW OF THE ADVANTAGES TO PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT:
Permanent employees receive a regular income. This level of financial security lends itself to those with personal commitments who can’t risk going without pay for a month or two. You’re also be partly protected by a signed contract which makes dismissing you more difficult. This goes hand-in-hand with redundancy pay and longer notice periods (it’s not uncommon for contractors to work with a one-week notice period).
You get a range of benefits from being an employee of a company which contractors are not entitled too. These benefits will depend on your individual employers, but typically include the likes of healthcare, life Insurance, pension plans, etc. On top of that are perks such as laptops, phones, company cars and car allowances. (However, here at IC Resources we share our biscuits with perm staff and contractors alike!).
One thing that companies cannot offer to contractors is a structured career path within the organisation. This promise of progression is reserved for those long-term employees looking to grow with the business. You’ll find that such investment works both ways, with companies willing to fork out on training to aid in your development.
As a permanent employee you’re putting a lot more effort into specific projects. You’ll get to see them develop over time and there’s often a level of emotional investment. Whereas contractors may only be involved in one small stage of a project and have moved on before the product is launched, perm workers get to see the impact that their contribution has made. The permanent team members will also receive more recognition when a job has gone particularly well.
It’s true; employers are likely to have more faith in permanent employees. There will always be exceptions, but it’s generally easier for companies to trust their workers under their permanent employment, to trust workers who have an invested interest in their organisation. In no way does this mean contractors are not trustworthy, but there is a tendency to award permanent staff with additional trust.
SO THERE WE HAVE SOME OF THE POINTS FROM BOTH CAMPS…
Now, I’m not asking anyone to pick sides – like I say, there is no right or wrong here. However, if you are thinking of making a move, what you need to remember is that you are the person in the driving seat; you are the one who will make the final decision, factoring in your personal circumstances and financial situation.
It could even be that your requirements can change as you make professional and personal bounds through life. You can always give contracting a go at some point to see if it is for you, and then go back to perm (or vice versa). This is something I’ve seen happen on many an occasion.
I hope this information has helped you find the path that is right for you. If you would like to discuss further then please get in touch.