Contract Work Compass: Deciding between contract and salaried work

The Gig Economy. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence. Machine Learning. There’s no doubt that the world of work is changing. And big change inspires important questions. At Ian Martin, we believe every question is valid in the search for meaningful work. This blog post series answers the questions we’re hearing from candidates as they chart their courses in the new world of work. 

The Question:

What factors should I consider when deciding between a contract and direct hire (permanent) position?

The Directional Assistance:

At Ian Martin, we’ve been recruiting for both salaried and contract positions for over 60 years. Over those six decades we’ve seen a real shift in thinking in relation to contract and salaried work. While taking on a contract position was once often viewed as a stepping stone to securing a full-time, salaried position with that company down the road, that’s no longer always the case. Contract work has become a preferred career path of its own right for a growing number of technical professionals. Answering the following series of questions will help you weigh the pros and cons of contract and salaried work.

What do you value more, flexibility or stability?
When you are hired for a permanent position, the contract you sign does not have an end date. Assuming the employer is pleased with your performance and there continues to be a demand for the role that you serve for the company, you will likely remain in that role for a significant period of time. This provides a certain sense of stability.   

When you are hired for a contact position, it is for a fixed-length period. It could be as little as a few months, or as long as a year. While that may not be ideal for people who place value on a having a strong sense of stability, it’s great for people who are looking for some flexibility and might want to get a better sense of a position, a specific skillset, a company, or even a new city before making a long-term commitment. 

Where do you want to be in the next five to ten years?
Are you an entrepreneur at heart with aspirations to be your own boss one day, or do you like the idea of being a team member who is directly linked to the company you’re working for? Contract work is a great option for those with an entrepreneurial spirit as there is often an option to offer your services as an independent contractor to companies through Ian Martin. If you elect to take on contract work as an independent contractor, you will be responsible for all the things that go along with operating your own business, including invoicing, submitting HST and taxes, and banking. If that’s not something that appeals to you, you can also opt to serve the end company as an Ian Martin contract employee and our team will take care of all the details related to things like invoicing, deductions, taxes, and employment paperwork. 

If you prefer the prospect of one day having a permanent position with a company, contract work may still be a great option to help you gain valuable resume-building experience. Contract positions can help you get your foot in the door to prove your value to a great company who may be looking to add permanent employees to its staff in the future. 

Do you prefer to fly solo or be part of a bigger team?
As a contract employee, your role is to supplement a core team to help the company achieve a series of specific objectives. This type of working relationship can make it easier to steer clear of office politics, which some people view as a valuable advantage. Because you are not a permanent fixture of that core team, however, if you’re someone who values running with the pack, your role may result in you feeling like a bit of an outsider at times. Professionals who are placed on contract assignments through Ian Martin always have access to our Contractor Success Team, a friendly group of virtual colleagues whose sole purpose is to support our contract workers in their assignments. Should questions arise or you find yourself in need of support on the job, they’re always just a phone, email, or text message away. 

For those professionals who ultimately want to secure a permanent position with a company where they can be a core member of the internal team, strategically choosing contract work can help build your resume and a pathway to a long-term permanent position.  

How important are benefits in your overall compensation equation?
In most cases, compensation for contract positions does not include things like health benefits, pension programor tuition reimbursement. If having those types of perks is important to you, then you might want to consider a permanent position. If a permanent position with benefits isn’t available, contract work is a great way to help strategically build your resume to become an in-demand candidate for a permanent position with a company that offers an attractive benefits package down the road. 

 Whether you opt for a contract or direct hire position, you will be fairly compensated for your work. To learn about some of the compensation differences for contract employees, read this post.