Contracting VS Employment

By Spunk Burke


Many of us are so oriented towards finding a new employer that we seldom consider project work as an alternative mode of work. Our dogged pursuit of jobs that portend to nurture our self- worth often prove to be a rabbit hole that isn’t worth the time or effort – in fact, those jobs may no longer exist for the senior executive who is over 50 and out-of-work.

For many, project work, often referred to as a gig, represents a viable alternative that can satisfy our need for income, engagement, and purpose. Let’s look in more detail at the advantages of project contracting;

  1. Work/life balance. After long careers of heavy focus on work commitments we begin to value the precious gift of time that enables us to enjoy our families, interests, and hobbies. Once a project is completed (plans are generally for 10-13 week projects), the contractor decides when it is time to go back to work, often taking months off between assignments to pursue other interests.
  2. Immediacy. While the search process can take months (if not years) to produce results, securing projects can happen rapidly. By presenting yourself as a contractor with subject matter expertise you are more readily summoned for an appointment, easier to qualify without the myriad of typical hiring criteria, and a faster decision to buy because of the minimalist nature of the commitment (no long-term promises, benefits burden, or attendant risk) .
  3. Career enhancement. An assortment of projects is bound to deliver new challenges, exposure to new skills and experiences, a wider network, more accomplishments and fresh testimonials. If you continue your search for conventional employment while doing project work you are automatically regarded more favorably than the candidate who is unengaged.
  4. Security. It is not unlikely that contractors are in demand by multiple customers and can work several projects at once. Your agent will continue to search for your next assignment while you are currently engaged. Success on any project is a matter of executing the plan you authored which is going to establish you as an industry expert and add value to your market offering.
  5. Compensation. Conventional employment for senior executives usually means a cut in pay (it is hard to justify what we used to earn when a new generation of business professionals are willing to do the work for a fraction of the cost). Once we quantify the purpose (financial Return) of the project objective, it is reasonable to quote a fee that is warranted. Fees are typically on par (or exceed) with a fully loaded package to which we are accustomed.

It is no wonder that every other discipline of labor, from professional to technical, have long opted for a work style of contracting. From engineers to programmers, from medical personnel to scientists, all have chosen to contract over conventional employment because of the tried-and- true benefits of contracting.

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