Dear Matt: I’m a freelance consultant who has worked as an independent contractor and in short-term temporary roles for a number of years. My top client recently offered me a full-time job. What should I consider before accepting or declining?
Matt says: This decision is a difficult one. With the job offer there could be a couple things going on, says Marlene Phipps, President of Celarity (celarity.com), a Twin Cities-based staffing firm that hires contract/temporary employees in the marketing, digital and creative industries. The company you contract with may actually be looking to save money by hiring you full-time. If you bill more than 40 hours per week they could offer you a salary role regardless if you work 40, 50 or 60 hours per week. The hope is they just really like you and think you would be a great asset to the company.
Reasons you should decline, says Phipps:
• Flexible lifestyle. You work with a variety of clients and can work on your own schedule.
• You have established other clients you’d like to keep a relationship with and working full-time may prevent that.
• You typically make more money per hour as a contractor because you are responsible for your own taxes and benefits.
• Short-term contracts suit you better.
• Undesirable commute.
• Not interested in working with this particular employer/team full-time.
Reasons you should accept, says Phipps:
• Reliable work, health benefits, retirement, salary and steady pay.
• You enjoy the company culture and want to be part of a team.
• A rare opportunity.
• Not enjoying contractor lifestyle, tired of being your own salesperson and accountant.
Another thing to consider: If you turn the offer down, would you lose this client entirely because another full-time person would take over your work? How would that affect you, especially financially? Try to find out your future status with the company if possible. Are they going to hire someone else if you say no? Would you get any work?
Many contractors also feel a full-time position is their only option for receiving benefits, but they could also consider contracting through a staffing agency. Many staffing agencies, including Celarity, take care of taxes and many offer benefits such as health insurance, dental/vision, 401(k), and paid time off as an option to maintain their contractor status with client companies.
“The answers to these questions are largely based on the type of style you’re looking for in your career,” says Phipps. “If you already feel as though you’ve established yourself as a freelancer and feel that a full-time position is not for you, that is the decision you have to make. This has a lot to do with personal preference.”
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