The rapid growth of technology’s core role in business has created a demand for skills in the space that’s hard to keep up with. New Zealand is experiencing a skills shortage across many roles in tech, making it an ideal time for experienced IT professionals to tap into the abundance of opportunities.
Along with full time, part time and fixed term roles, Absolute IT is a market leader in placing skilled contractors into organisations requiring specialist tech expertise. What’s interesting in talking with job seekers each day, is that many haven’t considered the benefits of contracting vs. a full time role. In this high-demand low-supply IT market, contracting presents a compelling alternative.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the benefits of contracting. If you identify with any of these points, a great next step is to get in touch with our team to discuss your options further.
There’s a big demand for specialist expertise
Many big tech-based initiatives in Kiwi organisations are project or programme-based, which inherently come with a finite lifespan, making a contractor resource the logical choice for many roles. Project managers, Business Analysts, Architects, developers and designers to name but a few, regularly have opportunities for work through contracting.
Furthermore, businesses know that to gain access to highly skilled experts in a particular field of tech, they may need to look to contractors, who have identified a more lucrative career through non-permanent ‘gigs’. In many cases, this makes sense for both parties – the contractor earns more and the organisation isn’t required to commit long term to an expensive resource potentially only needed for a specific project stage.
Many of our IT professionals enjoy 12 full months of work, for years at a time. This isn’t always the case, and as with any contractor you should expect the possibility of less or no work. Some contractors in IT may also have other ongoing freelance clients to help cushion the financial blow in between large contracts.
Variety in tech, projects, industries and businesses
Are you the type of tech professional who gets bored working in the same role, on the same platforms for the same business long term? If so, contracting might be the perfect antidote. By design you’ll be hopping from project to project, acquiring new experiences and skills along the way.
For our more technical contractors, they often get exposed to a wider range of technologies, quicker through a career in contracting. While you will be brought in for your strengths, the broader tech stacks will vary from contract to contract, giving you exposure to newer technologies, different products, builds and methodologies.
Contractors need to apply different parts of their brain as the business requirements and challenges vary between contracts. Being exposed to these varying challenges can help fast-track the development of a contractor’s skill set through exposure to different issues, helping them add value to the next project. While this approach may suit those who are comfortable with change, having a series of contracts will equip anyone with more confidence and new techniques to adapt and learn.
Variety is also rewarding thanks to the plethora of industries that require specialist IT talent to deliver on their business objectives; think financial, transport, tourism, government, health, ecommerce, retail – the list goes on. As a contractor, you’ll come into contact with these businesses, their people and their tech requirements. Aside from providing opportunities to apply skills and critical thinking across a variety of applications, switching up industries can be good to simply keep things interesting!
Flexibility around hours to fit your lifestyle
A contractor is essentially self employed, meaning that there’s often more flexibility around how to engage with the organisation they’re delivering services to. Full time employees are often obliged to meet more baseline requirements such as set start/finish times, company training obligations, and team building. Contractors aren’t so connected with the business (outside of the specific work they’re doing). This is by design, as contractors’ typical hourly rate means every minute they spend is ideally adding tangible benefit to that specific project.
While some projects may require contractors to be present for a full day, many projects can be negotiated as far as hours, days, and even location. Remote working with your own equipment can be attractive to an organisation who would otherwise need to supply a desk, power and potentially computer equipment.
So, if you’re an experienced IT professional who has other life commitments or hobbies, a contracting model could allow you to structure your week exactly how it suits you.
Significant earnings potential
There’s no big secret here; contractors usually earn more than full time employees and are typically paid on an hourly basis. The question will remain however, will this translate to a larger income, prorated over the course of the year? It’s an important consideration for a contractor as this answer may depend on how much downtime you have between projects. In today’s high-demand IT industry, any contractor with some good networking skills shouldn’t be without a gig for too long.
Organisations are willing to pay more for a contractor for a number of reasons:
- Engaging a contractor ensures they are purely paying for technical resources that will be 100% productive on the task (or close to it).
- Contractors don’t come with all the admin of a permanent employee, making onboarding or winding up engagement much easier (provided the terms of the contract are adhered to!).
- Contractors are often brought into an IT-based project possessing some specific technical skills that may have been hard to find otherwise. Like salaried equivalents of these jobs, they demand a premium on the market.
- The cost of a contractor can be built into the total project costs without great difficulty. When offset against the specific value they’re engaged to deliver, this makes the ROI model much easier for an organisation to account for.
- Contactors may be needed immediately, and are able to hit the ground running.
- They don’t need to pay the contractor holiday pay, sick leave or allocate training budget.
If you’re looking into contracting, make sure you put the time into determining the right charge out rate, based upon things like market demand, your experience, skills, covering costs like ACC and tax, plus the margin you want to make. It might also be worth connecting with others in contracting to get insights into how they calculate hourly rates.
There’s also nothing preventing you from adjusting your rates between contracts, either, so do make sure these are reviewed periodically to remain in step with the industry and your evolving value.
You’re totally in control of your business direction
Being self-employed puts the control – and responsibility – totally in your hands. That means you get to decide what work to take on, not an employer. If you’ve ever felt like you needed more say over how you use your workday, contracting is probably a good fit for you.
As the industry changes and evolves, a contractor can update and reframe their offering to market relatively quickly, ensuring that you stay current and in demand.
The one thing to note here – when we say it’s all up to you, it really is. This means any training, learning, sales, networking and marketing will fall on your shoulders alone.
Building a strong network of contacts quickly
Naturally, a contractor who strings together jobs will start to build up a sizable network of business relationships. Keeping connected with previous colleagues opens up the opportunity for repeat business.
As these contacts move to other organisations, there’s a chance they may tap into your expertise there as well. While permanent employees build strong relationships with their fellow staff, contractors build this list much quicker.
And beyond any business benefit, moving around regularly is simply a great way to meet lots of new friends, full stop!
Remove the perception around ‘job hopping’
We regularly talk with candidates who express concern around their CV and LinkedIn profiles showing multiple roles in a short space of time. While the stigma of this is much less in the modern IT era, it’s still a legitimate concern when trying to reassure a potential employer that you’re not a ‘flight risk’.
These aren’t concerns a contractor really needs to worry about; by design their careers are made up of lots of projects as opposed to permanent roles. Therefore it’s unlikely to cause any issues.
Furthermore, many IT-based roles on a contract basis will last for a significant period of time; some bigger projects could require you for over a year!
Keen to look for a contracting role or simply learn more about your options? Absolute IT connects skilled IT workers with fantastic contracting opportunities. Reach out to our team today to start on your contracting journey.