Sign on the dotted line?
September 9, 2010 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Does it make sense to consider contract positions when one has a full-time/permanent job?

I have been offered a couple of contract positions that will increase my salary from 70K to (hourly) equivalent of 100K. I have said no in both occasions but the longer I go without getting a job offer from a permanent job the more impatient I get. I am vastly underpaid in my current position and the opportunities for growth are limited (actually non-existent). Also I am not learning anything in my job and I feel that the long I stay the harder it will be to get out. Is it crazy to consider leaving a (very) stable position but non-rewarding position and accept a better (but much riskier) position in this economy?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the contract position through an agency? If so, what is the value of the benefits you'll get from the agency compared to the value of the benefits you get from your current employer?

If you will be expected to be a 1099 contractor, that seems quite low since you will have to pay for your own benefits.
posted by kindall at 6:44 PM on September 9, 2010

It's up to you and how much uncertainty you can handle. I've been a freelancer for 20 years, and I'm not only always at work, I'm always looking for work.

But if you live frugally, and save money for those pesky self-employment taxes, I don't see why a better paying contract job wouldn't work for you. A jump of 30K and a chance to improve skills, make new contacts, etc. sounds good to me.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:44 PM on September 9, 2010

You need to make a LOT more money as a contractor to make it worth switching, first. It seems like more money but your current employer is probably putting more than 100k into paying your $70k salary. A rough rule of thumb says you need to make more than 50% more to be equivalent.

Could you leave your job now, and get another equivalent/similar full time job for hte same or more money? If the answer is no, then leaving your job for a contracting position is very dangerous.

You've also left out some very important details... married? children? house? Do you have money left over at the end of the month? Could you pare down if needed? If you're relatively unencumbered, the decision matters less. If you could save a ton of money during this contracting position, say 3 months of your regular salary, then you'd have a nice cushion. If at the end of the contract you can get more work or go back to a normal full time job, then hey, lots of extra money to keep saved or blow on something or whatever.

I've been offered a LOT of contract jobs in my career. I've taken very few of them. I have done quite a bit of contract work on the side - it's difficult and very tiring to work a normal job and do a side job but the money is good and you might get a chance to see that it's often quite unglamorous work.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:45 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are any of the contract positions ones that you could parlay into a full-time position? I've gotten full-time jobs that way in the past, when that was what I was looking for.

Even if that's not likely here, if these contract jobs sound more appealing to you than your current job, what reasons do you have to not let yourself take a chance? The bad thing about safe, high-paying jobs is that ever-present risk of golden handcuffs ... Assuming you are relatively unencumbered, and have a skill set you could use to keep yourself on your feet even if a contract job didn't pay off long-term; well, personally I don't think you'd be crazy to leave to do something more in-line with what you wanted to be doing ...
posted by DingoMutt at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2010

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