There are many benefits to short-term contract work that you may not have considered. When reading about these benefits it’s important to remember that a lot of the benefits of employment are really illusions – such as job security, for example.
Maturity Will Be an Asset
There is no doubt that there is age discrimination on job hunts. But, if you’re a contractor your age will become an asset instead of a liability. People respect maturity and experience more when they hire contractors than when they hire employees.
Everything you spend to run your business (including mileage, supplies, and even potentially your health insurance costs) are tax deductions and will reduce your tax liability more than when you have a normal job. You may even be able to take a home office deduction.
You Won’t Get Sick of Anyone
Most contract work is short term, which means even if you end up working with someone who is a pain in the rear you won’t have to do it forever. You can learn from the experience to help you avoid accepting contracts from people that are too high maintenance.
You’ll Make More Connections
Because you’re going to always be marketing your business, you’ll have a lot of connections. You’ll have proven your worth many times over so that if you ever did change your mind, you could likely easily get a job. Not that you’ll want to.
Deliverables Matter Most
When you’re a contractor no one controls how you do your work. The only thing that really matters is the deliverable. For example, if you’ve been contracted to digitize files for a doctor’s office, you will do it your own way and they’ll only be concerned with the results.
You Decide When to Work
While you do have deadlines, you can set everything up around your own life instead of the other way around. If you know you will take two weeks off at Christmas to be with family, you don’t have to schedule any work during that time.
When you find projects to bid on, you don’t have to accept them just because they took your bid if you realize you have a problem or conflict. For example, you may not want to work with certain people once you meet them. That is okay when you’re a contractor.
How You Dress Is Up to You
No one is going to tell you how to dress. You can have purple hair and tattoos without anyone judging you as long as you’ve picked the right business to be in. If you like wearing suits, that’s okay too.
You Control Your Future
When you’re a contractor you truly do have a lot of control over your future. You can essentially get a raise whenever you want one by taking on more work, expanding your offerings, or just upping your rate of pay.
Your adventure into contract work will pay off if you have the right frame of mind and can look at the positives. The negatives are really not that many and several of them are imagined anyway. If you are self-motivated and ready to learn new skills, and even make more money than you do at a job, then contracting may be for you.
Is Contract Work Right for You
Working as a contractor can be an amazing way to earn money and have a career. You don’t have to work in a job to be successful. You can be very successful as a contractor – but only if you know the pitfalls, and what to expect and how to deal with it.
You need to be the type of person who can get work done when it needs to be done without anyone telling you to do it, including the work for your business such as bookkeeping, filing, and marketing.
You Must Have Good Time Management Skills
No one is going to tell you when to work; you’ll be in charge of that. You’ll need to be able to estimate accurately how long any one job will take you, when you’re going to do it, and be able to do this with multiple clients.
You Need Your Own Tools and Supplies
When you’re a contractor you must supply your own tools such as computers, stamps, internet connections, software and so forth. You are a business owner when you’re a contractor, and you’re responsible for all your own stuff.
You Must Pay Your Own Benefits
If you currently have health insurance in your job, you need to know that as a contractor you pay for your own benefits – including self-employment taxes, insurance, and more. Do you have some funds set aside so you can afford these additions to your budget?
Payment doesn’t always come on time like with a job. You won’t get a paycheck every two weeks, so it will make it harder to budget your money. You’ll have times of feast and famine. If you can budget through the hard times and ride the wave, you’ll be a great contractor.
You Must Be Able to Work with Many Personalities
When you are a contractor you don’t work with just one business or individual at a time. You typically will be working for several at once, all with different personalities. If you’re good with people and are able to take criticism, you’ll do great as a contractor.
You Must Be Good with Money
If you’re not good at budgeting, being a contractor might be difficult with you. For example, you may complete a large project and receive a $20K payout. Should you spend all that $20K this month just because you earned it this month? No. You should save some for taxes, savings, and for the slower months.
Hopefully, this didn’t discourage you. You have to remember that some of the security you think you have in a regular job is just an illusion. Getting paid every two weeks isn’t as important as making enough money on a regular basis to pay your bills and save for your future. All you have to do is train yourself to mind your money and build your business without anyone telling you what to do.
Negotiate Job Offers and Pay Scales
Finding a job is a lot of work. If you don’t have a job yet it is really a full-time job. If you’re looking for a change it can be even more difficult to negotiate working while searching. But, once you do get into the negotiation phase of a job offer it’s important to know what to do to ensure that you walk away with an offer and the pay you need.
Make Them Like You
People like to work with personalities that they like. Try to be likable even though you’re nervous. If people like you, and they can get the money to hire you, they will. As long as it’s possible, the like factor goes a really long way.
Get Close to the Negotiator
When you know who will be working the offer negotiation, get to know them as well as you can. Whether that’s research, asking questions, or stalking them online it doesn’t matter. You need to understand the personality that you’re working with in the negotiation and they need to like you too.
Appreciate Their Limitations
No matter how badly someone wants you to take the job, if they don’t have the budget for your needs then they won’t be able to offer you the position. You may feel as if they’re low-balling you, but in reality that might just be what their real budget is and it may be impossible for them to offer you what you want.
Let Them Know You Deserve More
While you’re negotiating, you can show them why you deserve more by showing them real numbers of what you’ve done for any place else you’ve worked. When you can show stats, figures, and dollars you can easily prove you deserve what you’re asking for.
Tell Them You Will Take the Right Offer
Sometimes when a job offer is in the negotiating stage, after you’ve acted like you have many other offers and proven that you deserve even more than you’re asking for, they’ll get nervous that you won’t even take the offer after they’ve worked hard to create it. Reassure them that if you get what you want you’ll take the job. Remind them why you want to work with them as opposed to anyone else.
Don’t Discount Yourself
It’s very important that you don’t get too excited about any one position and discount yourself unrealistically. If you’ve overpriced due to the economy or are over their real budget for hiring you, can negotiate other factors like longer lunches, mileage or more personal time instead – as long as you can afford to.
Don’t keep adding on more things with each conversation. Instead, look at their offer, then provide the top numbers of what you want to take the job – including compensation and other benefits. That way you don’t waste their time by adding on things later.
Consider the Opportunities Other Than Pay
Many jobs now offer stock options, personal time, work-at-home opportunities and more as part of the compensation package. Think of those too during your negotiations.
Remember that negotiating the job and the pay are really two separate issues, and that pay (while important) isn’t the only important factor when you’re looking for a job. After all, you’ll have to be there every day and actually need to like the work you do in addition to the pay. Be upfront about what you want and stick to your guns, and you’ll walk away with what you want.