June 19th, 2010
The other day, a friend who’s halfway through a year-long contract as a technical editor said what today’s temporary workforce is never supposed to say aloud:
“My boss keeps telling me she wants to bring me on permanently, but I’m not so sure I want that. It’s funny how everybody assumes that’s my goal.”
Sure, my friend is thankful to have a decent-paying job this year, especially in the wake of her big, fat, soul-sucking layoff in 2008. But after a couple years of cobbling together a paycheck from various contract, part-time and freelance jobs, she’s no longer sold on the sanctity of shacking up with one employer — despite the promise of 401(k) matching and a group health care plan.
I can relate. I took my first contract job in 1998 and have yet to accept a temporary boss’s offer of permanent work. Some of the staffers I’ve worked alongside have said, “Why don’t you just do the permanent employee thing for five years, sock away a bunch of cash and then go goof off in soloville awhile?”
But I prefer my freedom now, even if it means paying for my own vacation days and owning a smaller house than my employee counterparts.
Of course, there are legions of contract, temporary and freelance workers who couldn’t agree less — and dire news reports of the ever-growing number of malcontent temps to prove it. They don’t want to have to find a new job every three, six or 12 months or fund their own health insurance premiums. Real or imagined, they long for the uniformity of one boss, one corporate culture, one employee manual year after year.
Entirely understandable. But in the decade-plus I’ve worked as a contract employee and freelancer, I’ve encountered many content temps who agree that contract work has its undeniable perks. Between the autonomy, flexibility and variety, many of the nation’s 10.3 independent contractors have no intention of returning to staff work any time soon. Here’s why.
[Read the rest of this column on abcnews.com.]
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