3 common misconceptions about consulting
Have you ever heard of dark matter? It’s thought that 85% of the universe is composed of it, but no one has seen it or can prove its existence except through inference.
So it exists everywhere, it’s very powerful, and yet it’s invisible to us. That’s kind of how I feel about contract work.
As a Technology recruiter for consulting/contract positions, I’m often struck by the enormous amount of misinformation circulating about consulting. Everyone seems to know it’s out there as a possibility, but no one really understands it or interacts with people who do it – even though 1 out of 5 Americans are doing some kind of contract work every year. And that number is even more impressive in the world of technology.
It comes down to a lack of understanding. I’ve heard people say that contract positions are
1. Without benefits
2. Low level, bad for your resume
Yet in my experience contract workers are some of the smartest, happiest, most highly compensated people on the job market. So let’s address each of these concerns head on.
First, it’s important to cover some basic contract terminology.
Pure contract. These roles typically involve a 3-24 month project, depending on the size of the company and their needs. I specialize in tech, where companies usually hire contractors to help complete software, system, and database implementations or migrations along with other IT specific project work. Think Mobile Architects, Software Engineers, Project Managers, etc.
Contract-to-hire. This is essentially just a normal full-time position. With contract-to-hire, you are technically working as a contract worker for the first 4-6 months, but you will still receive all benefits, unemployment, 401 savings plans, etc. directly from your recruiting agency (us). At the end of the predetermined time period, you are ‘converted’ into a full-time employee. Companies use this work-around because it makes good financial sense for their books – they get to save the money otherwise spent on benefits, 401k, unemployment, sick days, etc., and avoid the hassle of on-boarding paperwork. In many cases it’s just an administrative workaround.
I’ve worked with multiple companies that use contract-to-hire as their ONLY mode of hiring. Every new hire passes through this process – it’s just part of their on-boarding and has nothing to do with your skills, experience, or likelihood of success at the company.
Now that we have that cleared up, let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about contract work.
Misconception #1: Contract workers don’t get benefits
This statement is just untrue. Contract workers receive the exact same benefits as the employees of the recruiting firm that is working with them. This includes:
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- 401k savings account
- Unemployment insurance
Every single consultant receives these benefits after 30 days in the role. And if you are considering a contract-to-hire position, you will have no coverage gap between the ‘contract’ and the ‘hire.’
Misconception #2: Contract roles are low-level and hurt your resume
Contract jobs are just jobs – they exist at all levels. Sure, some people we work with are looking for entry-level positions to get their foot in the door. But the vast majority of consultant job seekers are looking for challenging, stimulating work that will add to – not detract from – their resumes.
To give you a better sense of what I mean, here are some of our most common technology contract roles:
- Business Analyst
- Data Analyst
- Quality Assurance (QA)
- Software Engineer
- Program Manager
- QA Engineer
- IT Technician
- Network Engineer
- Mobile Architect
In fact we recently helped a Mobile Architect find a 6-month contract-to-hire position at a five-billion dollar San Diego company. Not exactly entry-level positions – though other recruiting agencies do help more junior job seekers as well.
These roles do not pose any threat to your resume, and can often help to position you as a specialist. A few stints as a QA Engineer at different companies will make you an invaluable expert on different applications, softwares, and best practices.
Misconception #3: Contract work is unstable
Pure contract work typically lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years – but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to spend significant time or energy identifying a new role every few months. Once you are established with a recruiting agency, they can match you with a new role as the end of your contract approaches.
Assuming your first contract position is a success, you’ll have earned the trust and faith of your recruiters. That means they’ll be confident recommending you to new companies and even sometimes securing you the job without a formal interview (what we call ‘send to start’ in recruiting).
Will you still write ‘do not contact for contract jobs’ in your LinkedIn profile?
If yes, I understand. Contract work isn’t for everyone. But understand the multitude of opportunities that you’re saying no to before categorically rejecting them. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about contract work, salary brackets, and comparisons with full-time roles.