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If you’re unfamiliar with contract work, it’s time to study up. According to a recent study, which was reported on by USA Today, more millennials are seeking out freelancing careers instead of full-time opportunities. This may sound ludicrous at first but when you take a step back and examine it further, it makes total sense. While a full-time job may offer job security, the benefits of contract work cannot be denied. These roles offer experience, flexibility, and the chance to network and grow your skills all while earning you a paycheck. Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits offered by working as a contractor.

Since employers don’t have to pay for employee benefits, unemployment insurance, paid time off (PTO), or any of the other multitude of expenses that come along with a full-time hire, employers are able to offer a higher hourly wage. For those on their spouse’s healthcare plans, this is a huge perk. However, you still may be asking yourself, “While that sounds great for the short-term, what about the long-term?” A valid question and one that’s worthy of serious consideration if you’re contemplating taking on the life of a contractor. With that being said, though, never before has there been so much opportunity for those within the tech industry. With more businesses investing in their IT departments, the demand for IT professionals has never been greater. If you believe in yourself and your skill set, the opportunity to work as a contractor could prove to be quite lucrative.

The majority of IT contracts are written as 6-12 month engagements. While there are exceptions (3 month contracts, 2 year contracts, contract-to-hires, etc.), you can bank on the fact that a contracting opportunity isn’t permanent. But that’s OK! In fact, it’s one of the greatest perks to being a contractor because it allows you the opportunity to be exposed to a number of different technologies throughout your career. So instead of working on the same technologies, within the same environments, you’re able to diversify your skill set and become a more appealing, more well-rounded candidate for future endeavors.

Professional networking, or career networking, involves using personal, professional, academic or familial contacts to assist with a job search, achieve career goals, or learn more about your chosen field (or another field/industry you’d like to work in). According to LinkedIn, in 2016 nearly 70% of all hires were hired at a company in which they had a connection. That means your professional network should be a major focus of your career. Working as a contractor will not only help you expand your professional network but it will also help you grow your list of professional references – colleagues, past or present, who can vouch for your qualifications for a job.

As mentioned in the USA Today article linked to in the opening paragraph, a growing number of Americans, especially the younger generation, are seeking more flexibility in their careers. While the article is more focused on the younger generation (millennials) wanting to become their own bosses, the sentiment is the same: They want to take charge of their own work schedules. Again, working as a contractor will give you more opportunity to do so. Some engagements may let you work from home and others may allow for flexible working hours. If you’re a person who loves to travel, you can plan to do so between engagements. By working as a contractor, the opportunity to take charge of your own work schedule will be available to you more often than not. That’s something your full-time counterparts may not have available to them.

In closing, working as a contractor opens the door for more opportunity. By diversifying your skill set and by growing your professional network, you’ll be giving yourself the chance to break into fields and industries you may not have been privy to had you spent the entirety of your career in one position at one company. Receiving a higher hourly wage at previous contracting gigs may also allow you the financial flexibility to hold out for roles that you’ve deemed more desirable. So while the role as a contractor may not afford you the job security that some deeply covet, the perks are there and the benefits are indisputable.

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