Age Old Question – Contract or Full-Time?

Scenario:

“I interviewed with another company and while the full-time req was just put on hold for a bit, they wanted to know if I would be interested in contracting until the req is approved. Under any circumstances would you advise someone that currently has a full-time job (with benefits) to do a contracting gig with another company? It’s quite risky with no guarantees that the req would ever be approved, and I’d lose benefits (as I’m single). But, in the short-term, it would allow me to make some good money. Thoughts?”

For those of you having war flashbacks to the LSAT exam, I promise there is no logic or analytical thinking necessary in this piece, but it will raise some thought provoking conversation.

I was listening to CBS radio recently and an interview was conducted with the owner of a tri-state area retained search agency. The interviewee believes that many organizations will remain with a skeletal work force and hire contract support as peaks in service and product need arise. More importantly he sees this trend continuing for many years if not permanent for some companies. Makes you wonder if this one opinion outlines the future of American business.

Back to the scenario…

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. First we need to look at the situation of the candidate.

Factors in ones decision:

Single or married?
History of family illness or disease
Debt concerns
Upcoming expenditures
Short term and long term goals (Immediate income vs. retirement income)
Stability
Growth opportunity vs pure skill niche
Training and development
Mobility

Now everyone’s favorite past time, pros and cons lists. I will admit, it has been many years since I donned such a list, but it did prove affective toward leading my career in the right direction.

Let us begin with the route of contractor:

Pros:

A. High hourly rate yields more immediate cash flow
B. Flexibility to jump from assignment to assignment
C. Immediate results. Whether you are three months or eighteen months, the likelihood is that you are
brought on to assist or lead a solution effort
D. Independence. You are your own boss. You fall under the ethics and morals guidelines of the organization
but you manage your money, taxes, hours, and career movement

Cons:

A. No long term savings factored in except by the individual (401k match, pension, etc.)
B. Typically, benefits are self provided and at a higher cost
C. Job security. It just isn’t there
D. Long term relationships. It is difficult when moving from assignment to assignment
E. Taxation law could adversely affect a self employed consultant on the FICA and Social Security
F. Not paid for holiday time off

Full Time:

Pros:

A. Job Security
B. Long term relationships in and out of work
C. Retirement planning
D. Wellness options and benefits
E. Opportunity for growth and development
F. Training assistance
G. Bonus potential
H. Paid for holiday time off

Cons:

A. Lack of overtime pay for exempt level professionals
B. Total Rewards factors in pay, benefits and other non-monetary rewards so the immediate financial gain
tends to be smaller

There we have it, the pros and cons of choosing a career path on the contract side versus full time associate. Of course there are many more we could have added to the list but it is a good baseline starting point for many.

There is no right or wrong answer. It is about personal choice, family situation and short and long term focus.
One factor that needs to play into this question moving forward is that the face of business today is changing and choices individuals and business make now may not be as black and white as they were just five to ten years ago.

Be careful as you make your next career decision because you may not be making it for yourself, but for others around you that are impacted by your choices.

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2 thoughts on “Age Old Question – Contract or Full-Time?

  1. Not exactly accurate. Under Fulltime pros…A, E, F and G are rare in my experience. A is definitely non existent.

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