Contract Work: Myth vs. Reality

Published: 10 Feb 2014

New research shows that temporary and contract employment is on the rise. More than three in 10 (31%) Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have either significantly or somewhat increased their use of contract and temporary staff compared to three years ago, showing the continued necessity UK businesses have to engage temporary resource to help augment permanent headcount.  

Organisations are increasingly reliant on agency workers to carry out business critical processes, with research showing that CFOs have increased their levels of temporary/contract staff from one in five (18%) departmental employees two years ago to one in four (26%) – an increase of eight percentage points. The highest use of temporary workers is within small companies, where nearly one third (30%) of departments are comprised of temporary or contract staff.

This pattern can be seen as good news for unemployed workers or accountants who are looking for the work-life balance that contract employment affords. Some professionals fail to consider the option of contract work, however, largely because of persistent myths about what it does or does not entail. Here, we set the record straight about some of the most common misconceptions:

Myth: Working as an “contract” professional will hurt my prospects of getting hired on a permanent basis.

Many businesses view contract staff as a way to evaluate individuals for permanent positions. With organisations still scrutinising costs, employers are understandably cautious about premature hiring but they’re also struggling with managing workloads. To bridge gaps, they’re bringing in the most accomplished contractors they can find, and many firms are evaluating the skills and cultural fit of these individuals to possibly make them permanent employees later on.

Myth: Temporary and contract work is short term, sporadic and low paying.

Reality: Although contracting frequently offers the option of working fewer hours than a full-time role might require, professionals with sought-after skills usually find that they can work as much as they want.

As to wages, the specialised and niche area of contract engagements will often command a premium. In fact, more than one in four (26%) CFOs plan to increase hourly wages and day rates for temporary and contract professionals in the next six months.

Myth: You can't include temporary or contract work on a CV.

As the temporary industry has grown and expanded, contract assignments have come to be viewed more as high-level consulting contracts than so-called “temp work.” Hiring managers understand that contract work provides valuable experience that can enhance a candidate’s abilities.

Myth: You can't develop new skills working for a recruitment consultancy.

Accounting and finance professionals who work on a temporary basis are often involved in contracts that are as interesting and challenging as those they might encounter in permanent positions.

What’s Right for You?
As the economy gains momentum, skilled accounting and finance professionals would be wise to go where the jobs are and, at the moment, many emerging opportunities are contract roles. By distinguishing between the myths and realities of contract work, you can make an informed decision on whether working as a contract professional might be an option that makes sense for you.

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