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Career planning is an essential part of deciding what you want to do in life. As much as career plans are meant to be flexible, a complete lack of planning will make it difficult for you to get the best out of the skills you’ve built up in your chosen career. One of the decisions you must make is whether you work as a permanent employee for a company or organisation for many years, or whether you offer your skills on a contract-by-contract basis for fixed term periods, typically of a number of months.

Permanent employment – the most common choice

Most people spend their careers working in permanent employment. There’s a good reason for this: the safety of knowing your income is more or less guaranteed, month after month. Permanent employment comes with numerous other benefits, in most cases. Employers are likely to spend money on training you and will include various other perks, ranging from those that have measurable monetary value, such as pensions contributions, to nice to haves, such as gym membership.

It is also beneficial to become familiar with and ingrained within the culture of a company, which can often involve becoming close friends with your co-workers. Permanent employment at certain companies can also offer fixed steps to career progression, which you may prefer over trying to manage your own training and career advancement.

Benefits of working as a contractor

Fancy deciding on your own hours and getting paid high daily rates for your skills? Acting as a contractor allows you to charge higher rates than a full-time employee, while allowing you to decide how much work you want to do – and how often you want to work. Being your own manager is more desirable to many than having to work according to the wishes of a line manager.

It is also very satisfying to constantly work on different projects and with different organisations, which will broaden your experience a lot quicker than working as a permanent employee. Contracting also has tax benefits, and working with an umbrella company can help you to avoid any complicating factors, such as having to deal with setting up a limited company and filing paperwork with the authorities.

Making your choice

Picking between permanent employment and contacting is not necessarily something you have to do right at the start of your career. Most people start off working in several permanent positions to accrue experience before they set off on their own in a contract role. There are some exceptions where careers involve one to one, personal services, in which case people may start working on a contract basis straight away.

It’s also typically quite easy to switch – employers value contracting experience, so if you decide to move back into permanent employment after some years of contracting, you are likely to be able to do so. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to switch between permanent work and contracting a few times over the course of their career, depending on their objectives and commitments at the time.

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