Our last post was a sort of preamble to contract working, putting its arrival in the modern world as a way of working against a wider historical context, of how work patterns and behaviours, expectations and attitudes have changed as the world began to open up to one another. The continents of the planet may no longer be together as they once were – Pangaea (supercontinent) existed some 300 million years ago – but we are, as a species, more connected than ever before. All thanks to globalisation.
This blog will discuss the pros and cons of contract work – often described as fixed-term employment (worth knowing if some jobs are advertised as such – in more detail.
Before we go into that, just one more point about contract work: a contract will usually include a full brief of the work required, responsibilities, the period of time in which it is expected the job to be completed, how money is arranged (lump sum, in stages and expenses) and notable contact.
Let’s not waste any time hiding behind that subject matter that most people find uncomfortable bringing up: money. Contract workers, especially those in Information Security Roles, tend to have reasonably high day rates. However, it is worth noting that although such rates are sizeable, all self-employed people have to be aware that this includes “future taxes” payable after you’ve submitted your returns.
Flexibility is another major draw. Although specific contracts will have particular deadlines and requirements, in general, as in the case of being self-employed, contract workers can work to their own timetable. Equally, they can choose how much work they want to take up. You are, so to speak, your own boss.
Being a contract worker opens you up to a number of businesses and organisations and gets your name established. The more contracts an IT security professional does, the more people he gets to know, and likewise, employers are able to identify candidates they would like to hire again for future jobs. Hence, being a contract worker offers professionals an opportunity to network, albeit subtly. Talk about perks of the job!
There can be the assumption from outsiders looking in that contract work is a “swell gig”, and indeed it is, but, as any self-employed person can testify, it requires people to be superbly organised in the way they go about working.
For example, contracts are fixed, after which, you can find yourself without work. In full knowledge of this, contract workers have to plan ahead and secure work before a start date. This way of operating has to be consistent if professionals want to keep working (although naturally we assume you will factor in your own holidays).
You lose out on some of the benefits that can (i.e. not universal) that come with working with regular jobs – pensions, medical care, career progression. The lack of such things and its impact varies from individual to individual. The pros can, for example, far outweigh the cons.
And so there we are…contract work. It is as much a way of living as it is working. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who swear by it, it can be a very rewarding and fun way to work. Isn’t that the dream?