Career change! Going from full-time to contract work?

  1. Hey, career gals (and guys!) -

    When I'm not on tPF I'm hard at work in IT Project Management and business analysis, slavin' away over a hot keyboard to keep a roof over my head, food on the table and an ever growing collection of bags in my closets! :yahoo:

    Has anyone gone from full-time to contract work in their same field? Got any stories to share, good, bad or ugly?

    I'm considering cutting the cord of full-time permanent employment and going "freelance," joining a staffing agency that would put me on 3-6 month project and then send me elsewhere when the assignment ends.

    Pros:
    - get away from current company (7 years, great run but stagnating at present)
    - 60% greater pay
    - new challenges/opportunities
    - I'm good at what I do...and my skills are portable :angel:

    Cons:
    - higher tax bracket
    - no guarantee of new work when the current work ends (meaning, pay could be phenomenal but sporadic)
    - have to find benefits and investing/savings options on my own (no biggy here, but just different)
    - anything else?

    I had an interview today that went well, spookily well. And I have a follow up one tomorrow! OMG. Please cross your fingers for me!! :flowers:
     
  2. Fingers are crossed. I have no advice, but I'm sure someone will come along who has experience with this. I think you are brave to consider it. I've always played it so safe, never taking chances. Good for you, whatever you decide to do!
     
  3. This is how I prepared for my launch into freelance consulting. Your mileage may vary, but here's what I did and it worked out fairly well for me.
    • I incorporated. Because I didn't have a "corporate veil" to shield me as a 1099 employee, I wanted to make sure my personal assets would be protected in case of litigation. Depending on the corporate structure you choose, there can be tax breaks. Some companies also felt much better about the working relationship if they were paying me on a C2C basis.
    • I had six months' living expenses in a high-yield savings account and an additional six months in a money-market account. If I ever had to dip into the money, I made sure to pay it back up ASAP.
    • I carried a high-deductible health insurance plan along with a health savings account. For dental and vision care insurance, I had my husband add me to his plan.
    • I kept my professional portfolio site up to date, and continued to network, network, network!
    • I did my best to keep my chin up, even though it was more famine than feast after the dot-com bust. Sticking it out through the lean years has paid off handsomely now, but at times it was pretty hard to stay positive.
    It's worked out very well for me for the past decade, and I wouldn't trade it for another desk job ever again. Good luck with whatever you decide!
     
  4. ^^ Excellent advice, evoque!! Thank you SO much.
     
  5. For what it is worth I have worked both full time and contract (contract for 7 years and the last 3 have been full time) in a very technical career field. There was more monetary compensation with the contract positions but there were some trade offs. I like being part of the team and working towards long term goals, as a contract employee you know that you are one dip in the stock market from getting the boot. These positions are temporary for accounting reasons, I felt like a commodity not a person. Having said all of that, evoque sounds like she has more facts and experience with this than I do. As with most decisions, good planning and a solid trade-off matrix are good tools to ensure that you make the right decisions for you and your family.
    Best of luck, whichever path you choose.
     
  6. ^^ Hey purse-boy (hello from pursegrrl!)...thank you for your thoughts as well. The pro-con matrix will be the tool of choice to decide, if I even get an offer.

    Thanks again!!
     
  7. Whoops, forgot to mention that you should absolutely have a fantastic lawyer and accountant on speed-dial. I never sign a contract without legal review, and my accountant makes sure taxes and vendors are paid promptly. The opportunity to work with a staffing agency will be a great way to learn if freelancing is right for you!
     
  8. This was my experience also. Last year I went from a 5-yr permanent IT position to a contract job at a very well-known broadcasting company. The money is really hard to turn down - you always make considerably more when contracting, even after paying for things like health insurance. And it can be exciting when you switch jobs every 3-6 months, so you shouldn't get bored.

    For me, it didn't end up working out well. While it was cool to say that I worked at a place that's a household word, I never really felt like I was part of things, which was very unsettling for me. Knowing I could be gone any minute was stressful. Eventually they made me a fulltime offer, but it was uh...less than ideal. I'm now permanent again at a third company, and very happy with it. My staffing company was outstanding and I always felt like they had my back, but it wasn't enough to keep me there.

    That said, I think it can work if it fits into your lifestyle well. As a single parent, I feel more secure having a regular paycheck and corporate benefits. On a personal/professional level, I'm more comfortable when I can settle in and really become an expert. If you have a well-employed significant other and the contract isn't your only source of income, and if you have good savings (3-6 months of salary) to fall back on, you might be just fine. Good luck with whatever you decide! :jammin:
     
  9. ^^ hippiechic, thanks for sharing your experience! I'm glad you've found something you're really happy with.
     
  10. Thank you again, everyone, for sharing your experiences and sending good wishes! The career Gods must be smiling on me today, for my 2nd interview went really well today. OMG!

    After a lot of number crunching and weighing pros and cons, I think it's a risk worth taking!
     
  11. Well, i have no experience in it but my boyfriend did the freelance independent contractor.
    The money was excellent, and like you said, high tax bracket but when you see the fat paycheck, i think you'll love it. :love:
    Although there's no job security b/c you just jump from contract to contract but if you have great skills, you'll get the new gig in no time.
    My bf did that for a year and then went back to a regular salary job. I think doing the freelance contractor is great if you wanna get quick money and shake things up a little in your career but may not be best for a long time thou.
    Whatever you decide, good luck!