Is the gig economy right for you?
When you’re working full-time in a position that isn’t your favorite, it can be tempting to take on a short-term contract job that pays more than what you’re currently making. The same thing applies to those who are fed up with the gig economy and want to try out full-time stability. But each type of work comes with its own set of challenges. The perfect choice for you depends on your personality and current economic situation.
In this blog, we’ll cover some of the key pros and cons of gig work (aka contract work). Tune in next month to see what we have to say about full-time work!
Contract work doesn’t lock you into a company long-term. It provides the freedom to try a company and a career on a trial basis. Maybe you find out customer service isn’t your thing, or maybe a family-owned company is too small for you. Instead of being trapped in a full-time job, you’re free to try something else as soon as your contract ends.
2. Less Cultural Pressure
When you’re in it for the long haul, you need to forge relationships and ingrain yourself in the company culture in order to be successful. Otherwise you’ll be seen as a loner, and will most likely not progress.
Although being a contract worker does not give you the right to be apathetic or rude to co-workers, it does allow for a bit of freedom from the hustle and bustle of the office. You can limit your socialization to contacts needed to perform your job, since you won’t be there forever.
You’re also already seen as a bit of an outsider, which allows you to set yourself up as an observer. Introverted or just not into socializing? Contract work can help you gain valuable skills without the need to build a “work family.”
3. Gain a Wide Skillset
Becoming a member of the gig economy means setting your own career goals. Decide what you want to learn on your schedule. Think of it as a continuing education—each job is like a class, where you are free to learn new and interesting skills from a wide variety of disciplines. One day you might be learning an in-demand website building program, the next how to excel in Microsoft Excel.
1. Can Be Difficult to Set a Career Path
When you’re constantly doing contract work, there’s no prototype career path to follow. You won’t get quality of living raises or promotions. The burden is on you to figure out what your ultimate goal is, and work different jobs towards that goal.
Not setting an end goal puts you at risk of floundering from job to job, staying stagnant in your skillset. If you keep taking the same type of job and aren’t being challenged anymore, it may be time to make a change.
2. You Might Feel Like the “Other”
As a contract worker, you may sometimes feel left out of office situations or events. This can be great if you like your space, but awkward if you’re a more social person. Usually it’s nothing personal—there may be various laws or regulations that prevent the company from letting you come on certain business trips, for example.
Other times your co-workers may not take the time to get to know you purely because they know you won’t be there very long. Again, it isn’t anything personal—you just might not be there long enough for them to get close to you.
3. Lack of Stability
In order to have a dependable source of income, you need to be extremely vigilant when it comes to contract work. Since you don’t know in advance where your next job is coming from, you should get in touch with your contacts or recruiter about six weeks before a job ends. Otherwise there may be periods of unemployment between jobs. Meaning contract work might not be the best choice for those with families to support.
Contract work also necessitates finding your own insurance and retirement account, as those will not be offered by companies. You will also miss out on other potential company perks such as profit-sharing or paid childcare. And if you’re ever let go, there won’t necessarily (depending on the contract) be unemployment to fall back on.
So, who is gig work best for? Someone who wants to explore what’s out there without being tied down. Someone who isn’t always looking for their next raise or a chance to climb through the ranks of a company. Or even someone in the military whose spouse could move at a moment’s notice. Basically, someone who wants the flexibility to do what they want or try jobs on a trial basis at the cost of job stability.
Have any opinions on gig work? Let us know about it in the comments below!