David - Particolare (2)

Think of your professional career as a block of marble.

In the beginning, it’s raw, unhewn, and bursting with possibility. It’s overwhelming to imagine the amount of sweat and dedication it will require to mold this slab into refinement. Yet, there’s an underlying excitement at the idea of artfully crafting such a masterpiece from scratch.

Many of us begin our professional journeys full of hope and self-assurance that our career paths will naturally take shape; that given a strong education, talent, and the right opportunities, we’ll find ourselves standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Warren Buffetts of the world. While not a misguided view, seasoned professionals can attest to the fact that your career requires constant tweaking, molding, and polishing in order to reach your personal goals.

One of the largest challenges that professionals encounter on their career path is how to maximize skill and industry exposure, while still maintaining long-lasting professional tenures with employers. These two facets don’t always go hand-in-hand, as it becomes very difficult to think outside the box and explore new skills when your work environment remains static.

Enter the art of contract employment.

Contract employees are non-permanent hires, ideally working through a reputable employment agency, who are usually contracted for a finite time period or to complete specific projects. As unemployment rates have fluctuated over the past decade, an increasing number of contract workers surfaced initially out of sheer necessity. However, as the economy has stabilized, professionals have discovered the many unique benefits that accompany contract employment:

Stronger Possibility of Permanent Hire:  The company and the contractor gain valuable experience working together.  Each party has time to evaluate whether it is a good, long-term fit.  The company also invests time in training the contractor and will be more likely to hire the contractor in the event a permanent position is available.

Exposure to New Systems, New Opportunities and Networking:  Contractors are in the unique position to quickly gain exposure to new accounting and ERP systems as well as opportunities to work in a variety of industries and network with talented people.

Higher Pay than Permanent Employees: Previous studies by the Wall Street Journal reported that contract employees can earn up to 40% more per hour than permanent hires performing the same job. Companies offer contractors higher wages to compensate for less job security and to cover overhead costs like health care, retirement planning and other lack of benefits.

Flexible Schedules:  Contractors will need to work the hours that are set by the client company, but there is normally flexibility in scheduling as well as an understanding that the contractor may need time to interview for permanent positions.

Freedom and Diversity: Contract work enables you to sculpt and mold your career to fit your needs and passions. Surround yourself with companies, projects, and challenges that will balance out your resume and allow you to gain greater exposure. By diversifying employment risk and professional skills, contract employees can gain extensive backgrounds while their permanent counterparts are resigned to fighting their way up the corporate ladder.

As contract employment is highly beneficial to both professionals and employers alike, it’s not hard to imagine why this career option is growing in popularity. We want to hear from you – what other benefits have you (or your colleagues) realized through contract employment?