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Discussion on: Free like a freelancer or secure like an employee? There's a third option: The contractor

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Jeroen Jacobs

As someone who has been contracting for 5 years, I agree with all the points made in this article. My remarks:

  • Financial freedom is a double-edged sword. You can earn a lot of money if you have the right skill, but you need self-discipline so you won't spend it all at once. During a crisis (like COVID-19), contractors are the first ones to go. Make sure you have that financial buffer to survive a few months without income, and still be able to cover all your costs and taxes.
  • Your skill-set needs to be really good, and you need to integrate with the team and project in a very short time frame. I've seen consultants come and go in just a few weeks, because they bluffed their way through the interview and it become obvious their skills were not as good as they claimed to be. Companies don't have much patience with consultants, when it's obvious you are not what they expect, you are out.
  • I'm not sure how it is in other countries, but after a while you'll notice the same names and people circling around in your area of consulting expertise. It's a small world, and it goes the other way around too: your name will go around as well. Make sure you always end on good terms with your customer, even when things don't work out. Don't burn any bridges, you might need those people as a reference.
  • Get a good accountant, they know how you can save money.
jkettmann profile image
Johannes Kettmann Author

Thanks for sharing your experience. I totally agree, it's a double-edged sword. After all, you're acting as a business. And that always means there are risks.

I talked to some recruiters though and was surprised to hear that there is currently a higher demand for contractors. This is a bit counterintuitive.

One reason is probably that it's riskier to hire employees in countries where they are protected. You can easily fire a contractor of you run out of money. But you're mostly stuck with an employee.

Another reason that I experienced myself is that larger companies have hiring stops in crisis situations. So they can't hire new employees. But contractors have a different status. Departments that are still doing fine and are in need for extra workforce can get around the hiring freeze by calling contractors in.

The advice about leaving a good impression is gold! Not only that companies and other contractors will remember you. But also the recruiters internally flag candidates as trusted or not afaik. Once you get a green flag you won't have problems finding the next gig. A red flag will cause problems though