Many people are nervous about transitioning from a 9-5 job with one employer to a contract position with many employers. And that’s understandable—after all, if you’re not in the know, being a short-term consultant can seem rather daunting. Key phrase: If you’re not in the know. Once employees realize the benefits of contract work, many of them fall in love with the lifestyle. From the chance to hone your expertise and work on the most compelling projects to the opportunity to network and set your own hours, the life of a contractor has a lot to offer.
1. Work on the Most Exciting Projects
At a traditional work-place, you don’t get to choose which projects you’d like to work on—they’re given to you. However, as a short-term consultant, you have total control over what you take on. Does a certain assignment sound really exciting, while another doesn’t engage you? You’re free to say yes to the first while passing on the second. Maybe you love working with specific technologies or in specific industries. As long as you’ve got a heavy enough volume of work to support yourself, you’ll be able to seek out the most engaging assignments.
2. Add Some Flexibility to Your Schedule
Research shows that having even moderate control over your schedule boosts your work-life balance, job satisfaction, and productivity. And as if that wasn’t enough, deciding your work-hours also improves your mental health, sleep quality, and blood pressure.
When accepting a contract position, many companies offer the ability to set flexible schedules, or even work remotely. And when it comes to contract assignments, you decide how long you take off between each one! Maybe you’ve recently wrapped up a long-term assignment, and you’re day-dreaming of a vacation on the beach. While a full-time employee would have to wait weeks to request time off, and even then might not get the green light, you can book your plane tickets the minute you decide to go. Or maybe you want six or seven days to relax between your next project. That works, too.
3. Meet New People
Every new company at which you work is another fantastic opportunity to make contacts. When you walk in the door, you’ve got the opportunity to meet anywhere from 20 to 2,000 new people with a variety of skills, experiences, and backgrounds. And then in a couple months, when you go to your next assignment, you’re getting the same opportunity all over again.?While you might have to work a little harder to meet people (link to “permanent connections” article), the sheer number of connections you can make more than makes up for the extra effort.
4. Stay “Above It All”
While we’re on the subject of co-workers—it can be difficult working (and getting along with) the same co-workers, year after year. But as a consultant, you’ll be relatively immune from work-place drama and disagreements. In addition, when you leave the company, you can choose with whom you want to stay in contact, so you’ll never have to maintain negative relationships in an effort not to rock the boat.
5. Become an Expert
Perhaps you’re choosing to become a contractor because you’re already well-versed in a specific technology, skill, or role. Or perhaps you want the opportunity to become a subject-matter expert. Companies will usually seek out contractors for jobs or projects they cannot perform in-house, which means you’ll truly be the authority. Every job you perform will teach you a little more about your chosen domain or area of expertise—if you’re passionate about your work and furthering your craft, this can be a compelling reason to go the freelance route.