There are a number of factors millennials look for in a workplace. But what might seem like a long list of requirements ultimately boils down to having more control over their working hours, and therefore, better work-life balance.

So it’s no wonder contracting work in Australia and other parts of the world is on the rise. Within the current economic environment, companies and professionals are beginning to see that the advantages of hiring contract workers far outweigh the downsides, and it’s becoming a popular career option for professionals of all levels of experience.

These are some of the biggest reasons why contracting is fast becoming the preferred work arrangement for many professionals.

1. More flexibility

Contract terms can last for a few months for situations like maternity cover or support while an open role is filled. They can also run up to a full year or more for project rollouts, or if a company is reviewing staffing needs or hiring budget for permanent positions.

Contractors are able to use this variety to their advantage to build out a career with a good amount of flexibility. Contractors are able to choose when they work, if they want to take breaks in between jobs, or if they want to fill up a year or more and then take a break.

The flexibility can also be an advantage if you have major life changes, family commitments, are planning to study, or are pursuing a passion project and you need income until it gets off the ground. With a flexible timeline, contractor workers can plan out their upcoming year in a way that works for them.

As long as contractors take the essential step and learn how to build out a pipeline of freelance jobs and opportunities, working in this way provides a lot of flexibility that can’t be found with permanent jobs.

RELATED: Is flexible working for millennials?

2. Greater control

Permanent employment is a bit like a Netflix subscription. The company pays you a certain amount of money every month, and you perform a set of tasks that are required of you. However, we don’t always have a say over how much work we must do, what kind of work we get or when we must complete it all.

In the case of permanent employment, it’s not uncommon to be burdened by too much work, or to be assigned projects outside the initial job description. Doing ‘double-duty’ is often expected in the name of a ‘lean team structure’.

Contract work is very different in that regard. Both the contractor and the business need to decide and agree on the scope of work before a project commences. This means you can assess what you can or cannot do, which helps to set expectations for all parties involved.

And since everything is written down in black and white, there are fewer misunderstandings, no dramas and no surprises — it’s a win-win situation.

3. A bigger pay packet

Many contracting jobs pay a higher per hour rate than permanent positions, as different company benefits and employment arrangements are also offered.

Additionally, for those contractors with highly specialised experience, the acceptable asking rate is often higher due to that expertise and proficiency. Virtually any contracting professional who has the right experience for a company can negotiate a favourable rate.

RELATED: How to negotiate your next salary

4. More experience, faster

Many contractors work for several different companies in a year. They may be working for a company in the banking industry for the first half of the year, and then move into a technology firm in the next contract.

Even if the jobs themselves are similar, contractors are able to gain a large amount of experience in a much shorter time frame than in a permanent role. Exposure to different situations, various teams, and seeing solutions from different perspectives adds to this rich experience.

5. Valuable skills-building

As a contractor, professionals usually have to hit the ground running, learn the job at hand quickly, communicate effectively, and build rapport with other team members. Doing this builds up soft skills and transferable skills fairly quickly, as the short time frame requires adaptability in order to be successful.

These soft skills such as communication, stakeholder management, teamwork and problem-solving are highly transferable to new roles, and are in high demand for professionals across most industries.

6. Continued employment

In an economic downturn, there are fewer open roles available and higher competition – this is the reality that many professionals face. However, companies still have hiring needs, and increasingly turn to contract roles as a temporary solution to those needs.

Professionals are finding that even if there aren’t many permanent jobs available in their field, there are opportunities for temp, contract work, or for project-based roles. These contracts are an ideal temporary measure for professionals out of work – and additionally, contract work sometimes has the option of turning into permanent work down the road.

7. The option to ‘try before you buy’

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to remain in the same company for many years. But once you do, you don’t quite know if the grass is truly greener on the other side, as the saying goes.

Contract work, on the other hand, is akin to a buffet dinner. Instead of a standard dinner menu, you can dabble in different types of work with different types of companies. If you like what you are doing, you can choose to remain on the same project or even become a permanent employee if the opportunity arises. If you don’t, then the contract will run its course in a few months anyway – and leaving is drama-free.

Contract work has a built-in exit strategy and allows the contractor to experience what it’s like in different companies, industries and work cultures.

8. Always a way back to a full-time job

If you try contracting and find that it isn’t right for any number of reasons, it’s fairly easy to find the way back to permanent employment. The experience and soft skills gained as a contractor can help prepare for success in any role. Contracting also helps build networks and references – all advantages when preparing to make the way back into the workforce in a permanent role.

Thinking of going down the contracting path? Start your search here with our open contracting jobs.

If you are looking for a job, visit the Candidates section

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