Times they are a changing. With nearly 40% of the future workforce migrating to freelance work, the definition of a successful career is being redefined with contract jobs.

Different people take on contract work for various reasons. Here are some examples of who should apply to contact jobs.

  • Students, especially fresh college graduates, can try temp positions while they hunt for their dream jobs. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for those who are still not sure about a certain career path, or grads that intend to travel for a while before committing to a company.
  • Another advantage of contract work is that you can get a taste for a potential client or firm before taking that leap. It’s also a great way to earn on top of your regular pay (so long as it’s not in conflict with your current work).
  • If you’ve been laid off or are unemployed, contract work will offer you decent income while job searching. Plus, it’s a chance for you to sharpen your skills in time for that permanent position.

From students, career shifters, to the unemployed, contract work is a good opportunity to learn and to earn. But it isn’t for everyone. If you’re not good with budgeting or you don’t like idea of instability, this type of employment may NOT be for you.

Contract Work Do’s and Don’ts

  • Project duration. How long will the assignment last? Is the position secured or is the company headhunting even if they haven’t landed the business yet? Knowing the duration of work can help put priorities in perspective (i.e. you have time to quit once you’ve found a permanent position).
  • Pay rates. Be clear if you’ll be hired as a W-2 employee OR as a 1099 contractor. The difference lies in taxes. Being classified as 1099 means you’ll get full pay without tax deductions. The contrary applies to W-2. If you’re unsure, try seeking advice from a qualified accountant or employer attorney.
  • Temp-to-hire. Ask if the position will be temp-to-hire. This means that if they like your performance, you might be asked to stay. NOT all contract work leads to permanent employment – but it’s better than not asking at all.
  • Project End. What will happen once the contract expires? Are you free to apply to similar jobs? How will your contract affect future job searches?

If you’re presented with a contract, review it thoroughly OR go over it with your staffing agency. DO clarify specific such as: overtime pay (if applicable), training, and exact duties. If there are parts of your contract that you don’t agree with, negotiate. NEVER sign anything you’re not 100 percent sure of.