The other day I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our longtime contractors, Keith Beckman. Keith has been working contract positions for the past few years, and when asked what incentives, if any, would cause him to revert to a permanent position, he said “none.” Pretty bold statement considering that he held a permanent role for several years prior to working contract. Initially, it was the fear of the unknown combined with a lack of the right opportunity that gave Keith pause before switching to a contract role. While he said that there is admittedly more paperwork that goes along with working contract (as a 1099 employee), he claims that the perks of “being your own boss” are most definitely worth it. Between the flexibility, and the immediate control that he has over his occupation, Keith wouldn’t change a thing.
I asked Keith the hot button question of what it’s like to work with a recruiter. He very eloquently gave a response, careful not to step on too many toes. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, shall we? Turns out that Conexess aside, recruiters don’t have the most honest track record (resume tampering, lies about salary, etc.), and tend to cause a lot of “noise” in the lives of candidates. Keith said that he daily has LinkedIn messages, emails, and voicemails from recruiters he does not know. And while it is flattering to be so sought after, it is annoying/frustrating/exhausting to weed through the endless barrage of messages, especially because he is happily employed right now! That being said, he noted that when one is out of work, getting a cold call from a recruiter can be the best part of your day – it is all about the timing. If the call comes in:
- Not at dinner time, and
- When you need a job,
then it is fantastic! Wonderful, even. One of my favorite things that Keith said was:
“If you haven’t built a relationship with someone, you don’t know what you’re getting.”
At Conexess, we truly value the relationships that we form with candidates. Case in point – Keith is one of many who have been in our pipeline for multiple years, and the relationships that have been formed are genuinely enjoyed by recruiters and contractors alike.
When presented with the opportunity to work as a contract employee, many without experience doing so are hesitant, or flatout refuse to consider making the switch from a perm role. I asked Keith about this recurring phenomenon and he said that having a permanent role within a company is no more stable than having a contract position. Anyone could be fired at any time regardless of the supposed “security” of a permanent role. Keith did note that if you are not a skilled negotiator, and/or don’t have your finances in order, you may want to think twice before working as a contractor. And as far as health insurance is concerned – you are paying for it one way or another, whether it is included as a portion of your set salary, or a policy that you choose and pay for out-of-pocket.
An aspect of working as a contract employee that Keith has come to really enjoy is networking and going to conferences around the country to hone his craft. Attending various networking events and conferences not only widens your social network, but also expands your skill set. If you are a contract employee, going to a conference is a great way to meet someone who could give you your next job opportunity. Be warned that popular conferences sell out quickly! PyTennessee is coming up next month but has already sold out, however they do still have sponsorship slots available.
Ultimately, working contract versus working perm comes down to personal preference and lifestyle choice. If you want more freedom and flexibility, then 2015 might be a great time to take a contract position. If a more structured work environment works best for you, then a “perm” role might be a better option. Just remember, that there is no such thing as a permanent job! Although the verbiage makes it seem that way, an employee can be let go at any time, regardless of the position title. Have you worked both perm and contract roles? Which did you prefer and why? Let us know in the comment section below!
**A great big thank you goes to Keith Beckman for contributing to this blog post!**