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Permanent or Contract: What's best for you?

By Callum Allen


With 1/3 of our time being spent at work, finding the role that is right for you is becoming more important than ever in society. Every individual has different needs and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to work. In recruitment, one of the first questions we ask is ‘are you looking for a permanent or contract role?’ 

Everybody has their own take on which is best for them, so read on to understand the benefits of both sides of the divide to help you decide what is best for you: 

First up, here are the benefits of contracting: 

1. The Pay  

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. 

2. The Experiences 

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.  

3. The Detachment 

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.  

4. The Flexibility 

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!)  

5. The Reputation 

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 the advantages to permanent employment: 

1. The Security 

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).  

2. The Benefits 

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, at IC Resources we share our biscuits with perm staff and contractors alike!).  

3. The Progression 

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.   

4. The Satisfaction 

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.   

5. The Trust 

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 key points from both side…  

Now, we're not asking anyone to pick sides, 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 we see happen on many an occasion.  

You can have a look at our salary guide here to compare the wages for both permanent and contract roles. 

If you would like to discuss this further, then please get in touch. 

You can email me at or give me a call on +44 (0)118 988 1151