The current state of our economy is enough to make anyone uneasy. And when you start counting up the reasons why, it’s tough to keep track: a fading pandemic, an ongoing war, and inflation that refuses to play nice. Hardly any industry is safe from economic downturn, but if you work in tech, you may find yourself rethinking your career path in the face of this uncertainty—or you may already be out of a job.
Regardless of what the headlines might say, the tech industry still needs workers to grow. It’s true that the biggest players in the space have experienced reductions in workforce, but even these giants are ramping up contract work to keep pace. Combined with the developer shortages cited all over the country, it’s more important than ever to plot a course toward your career success and to find a partner who can help you get there.
If you’re mulling over a job change in IT or have been laid off yourself, employment classification likely isn’t top of mind. But consider this: While industry, salary, and specialty are important components of your next tech career move, the type of employment you choose can expedite your professional growth, acquirement of skills, and career satisfaction in ways you haven’t thought of.
The best path for you may not be as obvious as you think. At the heart of it, most of us pursue jobs to stave off uncertainty, so accepting anything other than a permanent role—like a contract position, for example—might seem counterintuitive. But you may not want to dismiss the next contract role you come across. Let’s take a look at four great reasons that make the case for contract vs direct hire.
The exposure factor is especially valuable in the field of tech. Contractors in IT spend six to 18 months in a given role, so they rack up experience in a wider array of technological environments at a faster rate. This is a huge advantage compared to someone who has only worked at one organization for most of their career. Adaptability is one of the key traits that defines success in tech, especially in uncertain conditions, so put yourself in a position to adapt at an exponential pace compared to full-time peers.
And of course, there’s compensation. IT contractors stand to earn more over the course of several roles than someone in a full-time role over the same period. That’s because, generally speaking, contractors are often viewed as elite specialists who can hit the ground running with a minimal learning curve. Think of them like the rock-solid studio musicians who accompany major musical acts on tour. They show up and take care of business as opposed to training over time, and their hourly rates reflect this expectation. On top of that, contracting can potentially lead to $15-20K increases for subsequent roles because of the rate at which experience is gained.
Many recruitment firms like Concero offer comprehensive benefits packages that cover medical and dental care, retirement, and many other perks—not to mention that you get paid for every hour you work. Because contractors are generally compensated more per hour (plus the additional benefits that can be added), there is a very good chance that total compensation will be far greater than that of a direct-hire opportunity.
A Dependable Schedule
One final consideration is time. We don’t mean contract duration, but rather the idea of a more structured work-life balance. Contract employees need approval from hiring managers to work more than 40 hours a week. This may sound strict to some, but it also means there’s no expectation for you to check in after work hours or burn the midnight oil—and if you do get approval to work extra hours, you get paid for them. Many professionals consider this firm boundary between work and personal life to be a benefit in its own right.
Get Connected with Contracting
Getting the most out of contract IT roles depends on finding a recruiter that will work on your behalf, advocate for you, and offer you consultancy over the course of a career—not just one placement or project. With the right partner, you gain the ability to view and select from multiple opportunities without having to commit to one industry or specialty, which is a great way to build the kind of accelerated experience we’ve discussed.
There’s one theme that unites contract and full-time employment. In both cases, the person taking the job is more than the skills on their resume. The ideal recruiter will take your abilities into account while taking an accurate measure of what makes you unique as a human being—all in the service of putting you in the right culture to succeed. If you are an IT professional looking to give contract employment a try, make sure you choose a staffing partner who’s willing to get beyond skills and keywords to learn what motivates you as a whole person. No matter what type of employment you choose, the end result should fit your career ambitions like a glove.