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Five Reasons Why Contracting Makes Sense

There is a misperception among many job seekers that contract positions are inferior to permanent employment. Temp jobs and contract assignments are often thought of as playing “second fiddle” to permanent posts. People will take them if they have to, but would rather hold out and wait for a better, long-term offer. Now that the job market is starting to shift and there is more demand for employees, many job seekers feel as if they don’t even need to consider contract employment. However, if you are looking for a job, it may still be a good time to consider a temporary assignment. Even if your ultimate goal is to secure a permanent position, you may find that contract work is a viable, and even desirable, alternative. Here are five reasons you should consider contract employment — no matter the economic conditions:

1. Makes you more marketable
If you are currently out of work, having a job — even a contract assignment — makes you more marketable for permanent positions. Most hiring managers find currently employed people more hirable than those who are out of work. Since another organization has unofficially “vouched” for you by offering you a job, you become less of a risk as a permanent hire. You can also expand your network as you make contacts in a new job. Contract work looks great on your resume as you add different companies and skills to your work experience. You may also increase your chances of a counter-offer for a permanent position if you are working in a contract assignment.

2. Get that reach assignment 
Despite the shift in the job market, many organizations still have stringent hiring criteria for permanent positions. They are looking for potential employees with 10 out of 10 skills on their wish list. The criteria for hiring for contract assignments, however, is often more flexible. Contract posts at many companies emerge quickly because of an immediate need. If a new client comes on board or a project deadline is moved up, the organization needs to hire people fast to take on the extra workload. Because the timing is urgent, they are more likely to hire people who meet most, but not all of their requirements. This presents an opportunity for job seekers to try out a new industry or land that stretch assignment to help build skills and further their careers.

3. Strike resume gold
The less rigid contract hiring process also allows job seekers a chance to look for positions at prestigious organizations in their industry. At most Fortune 500 companies, the vetting process for permanent positions is lengthy and rigorous, but less so for contract jobs. Contractors can get a foot in the door of a prominent company, and can then name-drop on their resumes and with their networks to help secure permanent employment.

4. Compensation advantage
Compensation is typically higher for contractors because they are paid by the hour as opposed to a set salary. If the job requires overtime, that time is compensated, unlike the same hours for a salaried employee. If a job seeker has a spouse, partner or parent whose job offers health insurance and other benefits, contract work can be lucrative. Contracting also provides some income while being unemployed and gives the person the flexibility to continue looking for a permanent job. It can alleviate some of the pressure of finding a permanent position if money isn’t an issue. People have the luxury of finding the right position, not just any position.

5. Better chance of securing a permanent job
Contract assignments can also turn into permanent positions. Today, many employers are still hesitant to add permanent staff, because of the risk of the hire not being a good fit for the organization. Companies can “try before they buy” if they hire an employee on a contract basis and then convert that position to a permanent post. If the organization sees strong performance, they are extremely likely to offer a candidate a permanent position.

We are seeing this trend increasingly in 2011. In New York City, Winter, Wyman’s Financial Contracting division has seen a 340% spike in contract-to-permanent conversions over last year. This is a trend across the organization in other specialty areas as well. From January to April, there has been a 185% increase in contract-to-permanent conversions in all Winter, Wyman contract groups versus the same time in 2010 (overall contract placements increased 137% during the same time period).

Many organizations are in a state of “cautious optimism” about the job market. They are willing to take a small step to relieve their employees by hiring temporary workers, but are hesitant to take a leap and make permanent hires until they know the investment will pay off. This business climate makes it an opportune time for people to consider contract assignments. Job seekers who choose contract work expand their networks, expose themselves to greater opportunities, and build their brands, which are advantages in any job market. 

Photo Credit: Jobs & Careers Magazine