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Should You Leave a Full-Time Job for Contract Work?

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You’re a hard worker, and you’ve given your current employer your all. But maybe you’re at a point where you can’t get promoted until someone else leaves — or you just feel it’s time for something new.

We spoke with Amanda Potter, an accounting recruiting manager for Aerotek, about when, how and why to consider contract work if you’ve reached a dead end at your current job. Her insight could help you change the course of your career.

Is contract work the same as a temporary job?

Contract jobs aren’t always temporary. Many contracts last for months or years, or can go  indefinitely based on your performance. Contract lengths are typically based on specific work deliverables or project goals. Some contract roles can transition into full-time positions, offering you the chance to find your passion and grow somewhere that values your skills and work ethic. Contract work typically comes with benefits like health insurance and maybe a 401(k) plan.

It may feel risky to leave a steady job, but if you can’t advance where you are, contract work could be the key to unlocking better opportunities down the line —

Contract-job hunting is no full-time job

Working full-time makes it difficult to find the time and energy to search for a new job. If you’re a good match for a contract job, a recruiter will actively market you to the employer. Your recruiter is your advocate throughout the process, making the job hunt easier, less stressful and more productive.

A helpful recruiter will build a relationship with you, getting to know you as a person and what you’re hoping for in your next job (and the job after that).

“I help candidates know which openings will help them meet their career goals. I consider what will get them to the next level and what they're trying to do financially,” says Potter. Recruiters can also help you avoid the fear of your resume getting lost in the pile. Take it from Potter: "I tell a candidate, ‘This is why I think you're a fit for the position, and here's how I'm going to sell your experience to the manager.’ That way, they’re not submitting resumes against 45 other people in a ‘black hole.’”

Develop interview savvy 

If you land an interview for a contract position, your potential employer will likely wonder why you’re willing to leave your full-time role. Here, honesty is key: You weren’t developing new skills or growing professionally in your last role. Or maybe you were looking to work on a new project, technology or industry. Share what you hope to gain from this new opportunity and the value you’ll add if they choose to hire you.

And if the job is contract-to-hire, Potter encourages candidates to state exactly what they’re going for: “Tell the interviewer, ‘I’ll show you my performance ability, attendance and work ethic. I plan to earn a spot as a permanent employee on your team.’”

Give contract work a chance

Contract work is a building block that can help you develop new skills, find somewhere you’ll be more content and elevate you to a new role. Sure, it feels risky to leave something stable, but consider the risk associated with a job that offers no growth. According to ADP, people who switch jobs will earn more money than their stationary counterparts.

To take a step in a positive direction, create an account with Aerotek, upload your resume and then sign up for job alerts based on your experience and location. We’re constantly adding new jobs. When a job piques your interest, be sure to apply early.