Working remotely received a big boost in 2020. Companies made quick adjustments to help their employees work from home. Insurance agents, customer service representatives, and doctors seamlessly took care of their clients and patients. It became possible because the technology already existed.
The gig economy got its official start in 2009. But before gig workers, contract work already existed such as interior designers, real estate agents, and plumbing professionals. Many own their shops and the government classifies them as business owners for tax purposes.
Contract work provides flexibility, freedom, and ownership. However, it also comes with a set of realities.
Let’s cover seven realities of becoming a contract worker.
Employees receive a set of protections. In many states, employers can release their employees at-will. However, a process is still in place. As a contract worker, you face uncertainty all the time. Seasonality hits contract workers differently than employees.
If you’re a one-person shop, you’ll experience lulls when no work arrives. You’ll also experience times when you turn down work because your bandwidth runs out.
When you find a long-term client that allows you to cover all your expenses and more, it’s great. However, that contract can come to an end. Sometimes, you’ll receive a heads-up. Other times, it’s sudden.
Uncertainty is part and parcel of contract work. But the best ones figure out how to cover their blind spots.
2. Assembling a Portfolio Takes Time
As a contract worker, you must assemble a portfolio. In a way, professional models are contract workers. When they show up at a go-see, they bring their portfolio.
Agencies, fashion houses, and runway show producers need to see them in various clothing options, lighting, and poses. That’s how they judge the model’s ability to sell clothes, accessories, and shoes.
Assembling a portfolio takes time, but it doubles as your resume.
3. Building Credibility is a Must
Employers have a process that helps them hire the best candidates. It’s different for hiring a contract worker. Some don’t mind giving contractors a start. Others search specifically for veteran workers.
A company doesn’t know if you’re going to deliver quality work or complete the contract. Therefore, it’s your job to build credibility through a portfolio of completed jobs.
4. No Access to Employment Benefits
Employment benefits have become synonymous with obtaining a job. When the market favors traditional workers, the benefits package makes the difference between picking one company over another.
As a contract worker, you don’t receive access to employment benefits. This reality has hit some individuals particularly hard as the gig economy expanded.
Since you work for yourself, your clients don’t cover your social security, retirement, or unemployment benefits. Instead, it’s up to you to negotiate prices that allow you to build a cushion for retirement, work lulls, and medical emergencies.
In addition, you’re responsible for completing and paying your taxes.
5. Career Development Depends on You
Successful contract workers are good at performing their skill set. Since they focus on those skills, they often skip developing them further and their career.
To build your skillset, stay on top of industry and market trends. Find a mentor and check out the experience companies desire in contractors. Then make adjustments to make yourself more hireable.
6. Networking Takes More Effort
As a contract worker, it’s easy to isolate yourself. Networking takes more effort.
The good news is that more resources are popping up for contract workers such as Gigly.
These resources help you find discounts, information, and places to network with others in your industry.
7. The Market is Still If-fy on Contract Workers
After 2020, companies are more likely to place faith and big projects in the hands of contract workers. However, the entire market isn’t sold on them.
Some states place strict employee classification laws on businesses. Thus, they need to ensure that their hiring process complies with related laws.
Nonetheless, companies can make exceptions for exceptional contract workers.
Becoming a contract worker benefits some professionals. They receive the freedom to name their price, determine their schedule, and work remotely. Keep in mind that the pros of working in this manner also have a set of realities.
Many contract workers work more than 40 hours a week. Essentially, they’re building a business. When you run a business, you have more responsibilities and deal with reality directly.