Contract labor has been a large part of the economy for many years, especially in the technology space, but over the last decade even more companies have begun to use the contract-to-hire method as an integral part of their talent attraction strategy. Global companies like IBM, CDW, Oracle, and Microsoft were some of the first to begin onboarding contingent workers to support their client base. More recently, startups and Fortune 500 companies alike have increased the number of roles that are contract-to-hire, enabling more of a “trial period” that allows both parties to explore the fit before committing long-term.
If you have ever considered a contract-to-hire to position, here is a few reasons why this arrangement can benefit your career.
Contract-to-hire roles give workers the opportunity to try out a company and its culture before committing as a full fledged employee. You have the chance to really get to know the team you will be working with every day, the role you will be taking on, and the manager that you will be reporting to. This can give you a much fuller picture of what you’re getting into than interviews that could total less than the length of an average work day.
Taking on a contract-to-hire position often means you’ll have more leverage to get the salary you want. Assuming things go well, you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your skills and demonstrate your value to the company and your team, which can give you a leg up when it comes time to negotiate your salary if the position converts to full time.
Full-time employees are generally paid the same salary regardless of how many hours they work each week. However, according to Gallup, of the workers in the US classified as “full time” only half actually average 40 hours or less of work each week. This means that the other half are working more than 40 hours but getting paid the same as their counterparts who may be working 40 or fewer hours. In a contract-to-hire role, you’re paid for every hour of work, and often receive overtime pay as well, which could result in a significant income boost each year.
Many companies who are using the contract-to-hire method won’t interview someone who isn’t open to starting off this way, so if you aren’t willing to consider these kinds of roles, you could be missing out on some great opportunities. Giving contract-to-hire means casting a wider net that could ultimately help you land your dream job.
With any full-time job, there is always the possibility that you could discover early on that the role or your manager weren’t what you thought from the interview process. If things are bad enough that you decide to leave within a few months of starting, you now have the challenge of explaining a short stint to potential future employers. You also have to take into consideration that you may have just enrolled in new benefits, rolled over a 401k and maybe even accepted a signing bonus that you’re now obligated to give back. In a contract-to-hire role, if you decide the role and company aren’t a fit, it’s easy to explain to your next employer that your last role was a contract and the contract came to an end.
While taking a first contract role can feel a bit scary, don’t let anxiety sway you if this is an option you want to explore. More often than not, the perceived downsides around contract-to-hire are due to a lack of understanding. In reality, this model has many benefits for the workers, and its rewards far outweigh its risks.