There are three things that every contractor I speak to brings up as the primary reasons the life of contracting is for them.

The money! This was a big factor for everyone in deciding to contract in the first place and remains something that’s considered a huge benefit. When you’ve been working in permanent roles, the money in contracting can seem ridiculous and almost too good to be true. What you can save (or spend!) each month as a contractor can far outweigh the additional benefits a permanent role would offer.

Flexibility is key for a lot of people, in particular parents of young children. You’re not constricted to 4 weeks’ holidays each year which can be invaluable. You can take extended breaks between contracts and be relatively confident you’ll find another role or, if you’re lucky, that the company you were contracting for will keep a position open for you to return to.

Not having to get involved in the “politics” of a company is a huge advantage. It allows you to get your job done and not have to worry too much about anything outside of that. This isn’t the case with every contract; ultimately the longer you stay with a company the more involved you’re likely to be, but it certainly makes things easier to begin with.

Any other positives?

  • It is generally less stressful; you’re working on specific projects so there’s less responsibility on your shoulders around people and performance management.
  • You have the opportunity to move around more than a permanent person, in order to gain experience with different technologies or in different industries.
  • You can essentially create your own career path and opportunities as opposed to following a structure set up by an organisation that might not necessarily suit your plans.
  • Managing your own finances can be a learning curve but it gives you the freedom to choose how to do it, for example what health insurance or pension plan to go with.
  • As a contractor, you have the luxury of moving around and, as a result, can take a chance on accepting a contract that you think might not be a fit. Ultimately you know you’re only there for a certain amount of time which takes away the risk of accepting something you’re unsure about. In comparison, anyone who is accepting a permanent position knows that it needs to be the right fit as they don’t want to be seen to be leaving after a short time.

The idea that a permanent role is more secure these days doesn’t necessarily hold true; as we’ve seen with COVID-19, just because you are in a permanent position doesn’t mean you’re any safer than your contracting colleague.

Any Drawbacks?

  • There can be a bit of pressure when it comes to contract renewal time, and you certainly need to work hard in order to keep your contract.
  • There’s the hassle of looking after your own accounts. But, if you’re not the most organised person, you can easily set yourself up with one of the accounting companies. This is also a good idea if you’re just starting out as a contractor and you’re unsure if it’s for you long term.
  • You have to be careful you don’t get stuck in the same narrow skill set; that’s why it’s important to have some idea of your career path.
  • Short term contracts can be an issue, but the majority of contracts are 6 months in length and do roll over; you’ll get a good sense yourself if the work is there to keep you going long term.
Some companies have a negative attitude towards contractors, and at times you can end up being assigned remedial work that permanent staff don’t want to do.

Hints and tips from Contractors:

  • Setting up a limited company and a business bank account. This can be done by your accountant or your accounting company. If you’re contracting long term, this is the most cost efficient way to manage your finances.
  • Keeping track of all your expenses. Don’t leave it until the last minute to dig out your receipts. Keep track of them as you go, and it’ll save you a lot of hassle come year end.
  • Be conscious of your timekeeping if you’re billing hourly.
  • Continuous education and upskilling are important. Don’t let yourself get stuck in dated technologies or concepts
  • Don’t be afraid to move on from somewhere that’s not aligned with your career goals. That’s the beauty of contracting!
  • Know your contract market; if you do, there’s not much difference between contract and permanent roles. Keeping in touch with recruiters, ex colleagues and ex managers is a good way of staying in touch with the contract market in general and may lead you to your next role.

If contracting is something you’re considering talk to us at FRS recruitment by emailing