What did you watch on Netflix last night? Maybe you binged on some ‘Breaking Bad’, or watched that new Adam Sandler remake of ‘Pretty Woman’ in which he plays every single character.*
Or maybe you came to the conclusion that you’ve now exhausted the Netflix catalogue. It was fun for a while – how good is Breaking Bad?! – but now you’ve finished it, you’ve got all you’re going to get out of Netflix for the near future. It’s time to move on to something new.
Now, before this article turns into a full-blown ad for Amazon Prime, let’s get down to what we’re really talking about here: your career. Like Netflix, a job can be perfect for a while, until you feel you’ve got everything you can get from it. At that point, it’s time to find something more fulfilling.
That doesn’t necessarily mean going from one permanent position to another though. After all, you didn’t only watch Netflix, did you? You probably streamed things online from time to time, and occasionally watched a programme live on TV as it happened (how retro of you).
So why not take this approach with your career? Work when you like, at whichever company is offering the work that appeals to you the most.
Going freelance and becoming a contractor is a decision that thousands of highly-skilled professionals have made (49 million across Europe and the US, according to The McKinsey Global Institute). If it’s something you’re also considering, read on to see if going contract or staying in permanent employment is best for you.
If you have skills that are in demand, you needn’t limit yourself to one company or one position for an extended period. Instead, you could bounce from project to project, company to company, and only choose projects you want to work on.
This is definitely one of the biggest pros of going contract (or freelance). Not only are you free to pick and choose your work, but you’ll also be paid more for your time than you would with a regular salary.
Let’s say you’re a highly-skilled IT professional earning £30,000 a year; divide that £30K by the 12 months of the year and you have £2,500; then divide that by 20 working days of the month and you have £125 – your day rate. However, if you’re working under contract, you’re able to command a much higher daily rate – say, £400-£500 for example – meaning in just one Mon-Fri week working on a project you could earn as much as you did in a month previously.
Remember, you’re doing employers a favour, too. They’re urgently searching for skills that don’t exist in-house and contractors provide the perfect solution. You’re not an addition to permanent headcount and won’t be subject to a lengthy recruitment process or notice period. As you’re hired based on your expertise, there’s no need for protracted training; you can hit the ground running and deliver fast. In fact, despite your extremely nice day rate, you’re a cost-effective and attractive option.
Of course, unless you’re particularly organised and sought after, there will likely be times where you don’t have any work (this might be out of choice – time off is one of the perks, after all!) This is justification for that day rate; it’s not only higher to compensate you for a job well done, it’s higher so it covers you for the days you’re not at work. Then again, if you go contract but use an agency or an online marketplace like Elevate to help you find regular work, this isn’t so much of an issue. You won’t have to hunt for contracts (or contractors, if you’re an employer), as we’ll do it for you. That’s why Elevate is here.
You only need to look at any ‘Office Administrator’ position to see just how competitive the job market is right now. Each of these posts receive hundreds of applications, due to the broad, common skill-set required. If you’re a highly-skilled professional, however, your likelihood of finding a good role is far higher.
Around a quarter of employers said they expected to take on more staff in the first quarter of 2017, according to the REC’s JobsOutlook survey, while 48 per cent predict there’ll be a ‘shortage of suitable candidates to fill vacancies for 2017’. This is obviously good news for Generation Skill.
You’ll be familiar with the benefits of permanent employment already: pension plans, private medical cover, training and new technology, etc. It’s ideal for people who like stability; who want to see the long term effects of their work and enjoy the perks. One of the biggest factors, however, is that it offers the ‘safety blanket’ that many of us require, particularly those with families and mortgages.
There’s also the social side which comes with being a regular part of a team, though this isn’t denied to contractors, of course.
But if you’re feeling restless both in work and perhaps in life, then going contract could be your next big employment decision. For the highly skilled, you’ll almost certainly make more money and have more freedom than you previously had.
What’s more, some contractors argue that they have better job security than perm staff, in that they have control of the what, where and when – plus they expect contracts to end and don’t take it personally.
Ultimately, you might find you achieve greater job satisfaction working as a contractor, where your skills are both highly valued and appreciated. Your work-life balance can be optimised too; giving you plenty of time to catch up on Netflix, or indeed, Amazon Prime.
I’ve heard that ‘Mr. Robot’ is pretty darn good.
*This film does not exist. If you’ve now signed up for Netflix just so you can watch Adam Sandler’s ‘Pretty Woman’ remake, we apologise, but hope you find the help you need soon.