Rapid technological advances are a sign of the times, but they’ve left many employers scrambling to deliver IT and business transformation even faster than ever before. It’s therefore no wonder that IT contractors are now viewed by employers as an ideal flexible resource to help them deliver projects and add technical skills in areas where a team is falling short.
And it’s not a one-way street. It’s fair to say that IT contracting is mutually beneficial to both the employer and the contractor. There are reasons why IT professionals jumping on the contracting bandwagon. In this blog, I’ll be looking at the advantages of IT contracting to help you decide whether it’s the right move for you.
As mentioned in the introduction, IT contractors are in demand right now. In the US, our 2023 Salary Guide uncovered that roughly 70% of employers expect their temp or contractor headcount to stay the same or even increase this year. Similarly, our UK Salary guide reported a continued upward trend in employers bringing in staff on contracts.
As explored in the Hays Australia Contractor Rates Guide for 2023, the need for contractors with tech skills is high, and organisations are willing to reward handsomely. The employer is paying for your flexibility, plus the temporary nature of the role. Many contract roles will also pay overtime, and could be more tax efficient depending on your country.
Coming in at number two is the flexibility contracting offers. One respondent to a survey we released in Australia summed contracting up as “a license to practice anywhere”. Within a contracting role, you are more likely to be granted remote access and offered flexible working hours. This is perfect if you have children, other commitments, or you simply want more time to pursue your hobbies and interests. Overall, IT contracting is great for achieving a better work-life balance.
The next advantage of IT contracting is the ability to take control of your own career, since as a contractor you pick and choose what assignments you take on, where and when.
This means that you can decide to select only the assignments which appeal to you. A colleague of mine spoke to a contractor who said “What first attracted me to contracting was the independence it offered, I am able to choose the projects I want to do and the clients I want to work for”. This sense of choice and control can only have a positive impact on your workplace wellbeing and engagement.
The ability to develop your experience and skills also ranked highly. When you take on a project, you have a set time to achieve your goals. Therefore, contractors often hit the ground running, rapidly upskilling themselves within the role; with the objective of achieving this quick win in a few short months and adding another gold star to their CV.
Feedback from contractors we spoke to also showed a preference to avoid the politics of climbing the corporate ladder. This includes some things like sweating over performance appraisals, to grafting extra hours in the hope your boss will notice and promote you at some point. With IT contracting, you are there to do your job to the best of your ability, and leave once the job is complete. Therefore you can focus purely on the task in hand, rather than a long term game-plan for moving upwards within an organisation.
Better still, if you don’t get on with someone, including your contract manager, you only have to bear it for the remainder of your contract.
Conversely, as an IT contractor, you will also have the opportunity to develop strong professional relationships and make some valuable business connections. In these instances, be smart, make sure you leave on good terms and keep in contact after your contract is up. At the very least, you need this contact to give you a good reference, at the most – they may well provide a steady flow of contracting roles in the near future.
If you’re convinced by the advantages of IT contracting listed above, I suggest that you look at this blog by my colleague James Milligan. There are certainly many factors to consider, from whether you want to effectively be your own boss, to how much you are willing to keep on top of financial admin such as tax returns. However, in my experience, for most, the benefits of IT contracting are too good to pass up, with many IT professionals taking this leap of faith and never looking back.