Should You Take a Contract Job? 6 Pros and Cons

job contract waiting to be signed by someone who should take a contract job

Contract jobs have become increasingly common nowadays, with more companies filling temporary roles to fulfill specific business niches. That may pertain to particular roles, temporary projects, or ongoing consultations their in-house employees may need help managing or having expertise in. Despite the continued growth of contract work, there are pros and cons like anything else. If you’re currently wondering, “Should I take a contract job?” you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading to learn more about what a contract job is, the pros and cons of a contract job, and what factors you should consider when taking on a contract job today.

What Is a Contract Job?

A contract job is when a company hires someone to fulfill niche business needs. That may include a project, a predetermined timeframe, or to fill in for an employee on leave. Unlike permanent, full-time employees, these contract workers remain in the role until the contract is complete because contract jobs have a defined end date or project competition timelines. However, these contracts can be extended or renewed depending on varying factors.

How Long Does a Contract Typically Last?

Once a company determines its business needs, it’ll post a job based on the project or tasks it wants completed. They may post a contract job on job boards or employ the services of staffing or employment agencies when finding hard-to-find skill sets.

A client and contractor will typically meet to determine pay rates and project completion timeframes. For instance, in the life sciences industry, contract positions can range from short-term assignments lasting a few weeks to long-term projects spanning several months or years. Contract work can also be seasonal, but in any case, someone comes on to the team for a designated amount of time at a set rate to perform a specific job.

You may ask yourself, “Should I take a six-month contract job?” or “Should I take a one-year contract job?” But at the end of the day, there’s no one answer. The best contract length should suit your career goals and financial situation and, of course, depends on what companies offer.

Once complete, a company can continue working with an independent contractor for similar projects or retain them for additional services under a new contract, though this is all circumstantial. So why might companies use contract workers? How does it benefit their businesses? These are some of the questions we will address next.

Why Do Companies Contract Workers?

There are many reasons a company may decide to hire contract workers. Firstly, contract workers provide on-demand services a company can acquire easily, as the hiring process for a contract worker is typically quicker than hiring a full-time, permanent employee. Furthermore, most contract workers don’t receive healthcare benefits, 401(k) plans, paid time off, or other perks typically offered to permanent employees, which saves a company a great deal of money.

Some additional reasons a company may decide to hire contract workers include:

  • Filling in a short-term hiring need.
  • Meeting tight, high-priority deadlines.
  • Improving business functions and increasing revenue.
  • Outsourcing for highly specialized skills that are not available internally.
  • Expanding its business portfolio by branching into new ventures that require niche skills.

Hiring contract workers can benefit companies in a number of other ways, such as:

  • Reducing onboarding time.
  • No required training.
  • Access to a broader talent pool.
  • Less managerial requirements.
  • Decrease in overhead expenses.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity.

Why Treating Your Contractors Like Permanent Hires Will Help Your Business

What Different Kinds of Contract Jobs Are Out There?

Contract jobs vary widely throughout many industries. For example, at Black Diamond Networks, we recruit for technology, engineering, project solutions, and contract services, to name a few. Within the science industry alone, there are several contract jobs available, including roles such as:

  • Clinical research associates.
  • Regulatory affairs specialists.
  • Laboratory technicians.
  • Quality control analysts.
  • Medical writers.

There are also different types of contracts. Every job opportunity is a contract. For instance, permanent employees sign direct-hire contracts, and most companies utilize an at-will contract, allowing either party to terminate the relationship without notice or cause. Contracts such as these offer more flexibility, but temporary contract roles are even more flexible, and we’ll discuss a few of them today.

Fixed-Term Contracts

Fixed-term contracts are relatively standard for temporary employment. These are employment agreements with a specific start and end date. That may include the commencement and end of a project, a busy season, or other jobs that only require short-term staffing.

Freelance Contracts

A freelance contract can differ from other temporary positions. In this case, the contract is between a company and a self-employed worker who comes on board for a specific project or task. Many freelancers work for multiple companies simultaneously. As such, they can gain extra income. However, freelancers often need more job security, constantly looking for a new project or client to take on once their contract ends.

Contract-to-Hire

Lastly, a contract-to-hire position is unique compared to a fixed-term or freelance contract. Contract-to-hire is a short-term position that permits employers and employees to try out a role before committing to full-time employment. While the ultimate goal is permanent employment, a company can decide against hiring a contract-to-hire employee, just as they can decide to extend the contracts or offer permanent employment to any number of contract workers if they so choose.

It’s common to see contract workers employed throughout these industries, working on special projects and offering in-demand skills. But why would so many people consider working these contract roles? Do the pros greatly outweigh the cons? Is the lack of benefits and working temporarily worth it? Can these contract roles ever lead to obtaining permanent positions? These are some additional questions we’ll continue looking at next.

What Are the Pros?

Contract jobs aren’t only beneficial to the employer; workers experience many benefits by taking on contract roles. Let’s dive deeper into three top reasons to consider a contract job.

1. Flexibility

The first significant reason to consider contract work is that it offers flexibility. That includes flexible working hours, project durations, and the opportunity to explore different roles and companies. The opportunity to explore various roles and companies also increases exposure to innovative projects, new technologies, and diverse work environments, allowing you to broaden your professional skills and network within the industry.

2. Higher Pay

Another reason to consider a contract job is the pay scale. Contract roles often offer higher hourly rates or project-based compensation. Professionals can earn more in a shorter timeframe because of the temporary status of the job or the high demand for a person’s niche skills.

3. Potential for Long-Term Employment

Though contract jobs typically end upon completion of a project or timeframe, there are instances where it can lead to a permanent hire. Many companies will consider hiring a contract worker full-time, depending on company needs, budgets, and satisfaction with that person’s work. Though it doesn’t always happen, taking on a contract job can be an excellent way for someone to get their foot in the door and pave their way to a permanent role.

What Are the Cons?

Despite the pros and potential benefits of contract work, there are also cons you should consider.

1. Lack of Stability

As mentioned with freelancers, contract jobs typically lack job stability or security. Because contract work consists of temporary projects, budget constraints, and fixed timeframes, independent contractors are consistently looking for their next role.

2. Limited or No Benefits

As mentioned, contract workers don’t usually receive benefits from an employer, such as healthcare, 401(k) plans, or paid time off. Though lack of benefits is accounted for during pay rate negotiations, it can still be a significant inconvenience for contract workers, as planning for the future, taking time off, and paying for their own insurance can be extremely costly.

3. Fewer Advancement Opportunites

Though contract work helps people widen their network, learn new skills, and try different industries, it can also offer fewer opportunities to advance. The day may come when your primary goal is to gain full-time, permanent employment with one company. However, if contracts are all you’ve known, achieving that could prove challenging.

Making Your Choice:

If you’re at a permanent job — though there really is no such thing — and are looking for new and exciting opportunities, it may be something to consider. If an opportunity presents itself, give contract work a chance to learn a new skill or try a new industry. Just remember that there are risks.

While contract jobs offer flexibility and higher pay, they have inherent uncertainties. Weighing these uncertainties is critical before deciding to take on a contract. You’ll have to consider the loss of insurance, benefits, paid time off, flexibility, workload and hours per week, the length of the contract, and if there’s any opportunity for extension or advancement. Taking on a contract job is a personal decision only you can make. For help finding the next best contract role in the life science industry, contact Black Diamond Networks today.