Permanent employment doesn’t necessarily mean job security: why contracting could be the better option

Your manager puts some time in your diary for a “catch up”. Those two words are enough to make your heart sink. The same heart-dropping feeling you get when you think you’ve lost your mobile phone before realising it’s still in your pocket. “Catch up” seems disconcertingly vague. Your immediate reaction: “What have I done wrong?”

You notice that the meeting isn’t set to take place on the comfy seats. Neither is it set to take place in the most convenient meeting room in the entire building, which a stone’s throw away from your desk. Oh dear. It’s a room on a floor outside of your territory, and you feel your heart sink even further into the pit of your stomach.

Five painful hours for your mind to mull over all the possibilities of what this could be about: “Did my manager really notice that I spent 15 minutes sitting on the toilet, scrolling idly through Facebook? I thought I just cut it short enough for no one to notice”.

Hold on; there’s someone from HR here too. Everyone is looking very serious. Out the corner of your eye, you notice some familiar personal objects from your desk, sitting in a cardboard box. Then boom. They drop the redundancy bombshell on you without warning. You’re asked to hand over your security card before being marched off the premises, box in arms, like you’ve defrauded the place. You’re not even allowed back to your desk to say goodbye to your colleagues. It’s brutal. So much for loyalty.

Over the next few weeks, you experience a rollercoaster of emotions: shock, anger, guilt, sadness, anxiety, and even delusion – you’re convinced they are going to call you up, tell you that it’s all been a big mistake and that they want you back. What about all those extra hours you gave them? Hopefully, relief is the overriding emotion that conquers all.

Many people perceive a permanent job to be a secure job. The reality is that your employer can drop you like a hot potato. If you’re working as a contractor, but somewhat reluctantly, and would snap anyone’s hand off who offered you a permanent contract, then maybe it’s time to consider the benefits freelancing can bring.

More cash
A contractor can take home up to twice as much as a permanent employee. However, you need to balance this against not receiving the benefits of sick pay and annual leave. As a freelancer, you can claim back on expenses incurred, such as food, travel, and equipment.

Variety
No one wants to experience Groundhog Day over and over and over again. Contract work can provide constant stimulation for people who enjoy variety: a range of industries and projects, the chance to meet new people, work from home, on-site, or maybe even with the sand between your toes in a beautiful location.

Opportunity
With each project you take on, you will learn something new. With the rise of technology, the world is feeling smaller. You can work remotely for a client abroad, without even having to leave the comfort of your bed.

Self-branding
As a contractor, you can freelance through your own company. Make it personal and pick a name for your company that defines you, your values and your brand.  The possibilities are endless; you can build a huge online presence and client base. Going self-employed is your chance to release the entrepreneur within you.

Freedom
How you work, when you work, who you work with, the types of projects you want to take on, and when to take a holiday. No more “You can’t have between Christmas and New Year’s off” heartache because Carol got in there first, and management feel they need four people to cover a two-person job. Now you call the shots – you’re the boss.

Your parents and grandparents were of a generation when working for the same company for 30+ years was standard practice. That’s become a thing of the past. People who move around more tend to earn more. No need to fear too many company names on your CV – these can be consolidated into ‘projects’, rather than listing each one as a different job and allowing your CV to overflow to three pages.

If the thought of doing your accounts and paperwork as a contractor fills you with dread, then don’t worry. If you don’t want to be responsible for the admin, there are plenty of people who do, and you can compare them here. This way you can contract while operating like an employee.

“Nothin’ lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change”, sang Axl Rose. This is undoubtedly true for a permanent job. Maybe the time you’re next standing behind the yellow line in the cold November rain, you’ll be wishing that you’d made the jump from employed to self-employed.