A contractor is someone who agrees to provide his or her expertise to a company to complete a specific project, often within a fixed period of time. Contract roles can offer greater flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity to increase hourly earnings.
Many professionals consider themselves to be career contractors. As well as being specialists in their field, their strengths lie in quickly fitting into an organisation, delivering for a new team and expertly managing key projects. We investigate the benefits of contract roles.
An opportunity to grow your skills
The variety that comes with working in contract roles increases your skills base, industry knowledge, experience and exposure to dynamic environments. It gives you the opportunity to test your capabilities in new environments, helping you to make the next all-important career decision. Contracting while you're travelling is also a viable option and there are contract roles available both nationally and internationally.
Benefits of contracting
There are a number of benefits to taking on a contract role, such as:
- More flexibility to work when you want (although you will not always get holiday pay)
- More flexibility to change jobs
- The opportunity to broaden your contact base and grow a network list
- The opportunity to broaden your sector experience or specialise in a certain industry
- The chance to broaden your skill set or specialise in a niche area
- The opportunity to gain experience of working for a variety of organisations with different cultures, structures and management styles
- Greater earning potential - particularly if you’re paid on an hourly basis and receive extra for overtime
Case study: The contractor's point of view
We asked Scott Burdon from AXA Insurance to tell us about his experience with contracting.
- What do you enjoy about contracting?
The main benefits of being a contractor are higher income and greater flexibility. If you work an eight or nine-month contract at a high level of pay, you can decide if you then want to take some time off, perhaps to travel, without being concerned about money.
- How important is the variety in your career?
Even if you go straight into another contract in the same type of role, you're still changing your environment. You're dealing with different cultures, different sizes of company and different people, so you can keep renewing yourself. The biggest frustration on the other hand, is that you're often viewed as an outsider, or as someone who has taken a job from an existing employee. This is understandable, because you might have come in to do something that is not necessarily part of the culture of the company.
The main benefits of being a contractor are higher income and greater flexibility.
- How can you make sure you’re effective in your role?
In terms of making contract workers effective from day one, I'd say that where clients have told staff about your role as a contractor and have given them the opportunity to ask questions - you are accepted much more quickly and can get on with the task you have been set. In addition, I would advise employers to make the best of all the skills their contractors possess.
Advice for employers
Contractors brought in for a specialist role often get frustrated if they're capable of more and are happy to take on additional tasks. So why not take advantage of all the skills they've learnt from the many different companies they have worked for? If you are looking to hire contractors within your organisation, ensure that you get the best value from these professionals and utilize the skills and specialist expertise.