Una's Blog


44 Job security

graphic-4by Una Hearne.

We say ‘contracting’ and ‘permanent job’ meaning different things. But a permanent job these days is something we see lasting maybe 3 – 7 years. Most people don’t set out looking for a job for life. So aren’t permanent jobs and contracts becoming very similar? The only obvious difference is maybe benefits, holiday and sick pay, pension etc. And this is why contractors/consultants are supposed to charge higher daily rates, as they have to provide for all of these for themselves.

All things considered it seems a smart approach to work now is to think of yourself in terms of a contractor or consultant, even if you are looking for ‘permanent’ jobs. You are contracting your time and skills in exchange for payment. If you take this attitude, you are more likely to remain aware of your own value, more likely to stay up to date and more likely to adapt well to change – key skills in a world where the pace of change has been steadily increasing and shows no sign of slowing down.

There are pros and cons to this shift in attitude for both individuals and organisations – I offer the following simply as food for thought:

Theoretically contracting/consulting is good for individuals because:

  • You need to consciously keep yourself up to date and be of value to an organisation to ensure you are continually hired.
  • You don’t have to stay and work somewhere you don’t like, you more choice about who you work with.
  • You can charge higher fees, which you decide, since you need to cover holidays and pension and potentially sick leave and periods of unemployment.

It’s good for employers because:

  • They only need to pay for services and work they need, overheads can be controlled better.
  • There is no risk of hiring the wrong person and being stuck with them indefinitely.
  • They can get the best person for the job and expect a very high level of engagement.

All very positive and valid of course, but not quite the full story for individuals:

  • If you are not psychologically suited to self employment/contracting, living with uncertainty can be stressful, demoralising and even destructive.
  • You must master extra skills in selling your services. While this will always be a useful it can be difficult for some personality types and not always relevant.
  • If you are not good at managing your money over time, it can make for a risky and unpredictable lifestyle.

And for employers:

  • If the required services / work are ongoing it could work out very costly to hire a contractor as opposed to a permanent employee.
  • It is difficult to get, and unreasonable to expect, loyalty. If people are always on the lookout for the next opportunity and not concerned with keeping their job, it can be difficult to plan work in an organisation.
  • If the skills an employer is looking for are in high demand it could be prohibitively costly to hire a contractor or impossible to find somebody competent.


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