The Perks of Working as an Accounting Contractor

Contract employment isn’t just a boon for companies. Here are some of the perks you might enjoy from working as a contractor.

To do contract or not to do contract – that is the question. Or at least, that’s the question many accounting and finance professionals in Toronto are asking themselves these days, if the conversations I’ve had with clients, candidates, and colleagues are anything to go by. It’s well-known that many companies are increasingly relying upon contractors for their hiring needs, in order to reduce their overhead and maintain flexibility in their staffing. For employers looking to shore up their finance departments with skilled, qualified, and experienced accounting professionals — the kind of people who can step in and contribute right away during a crisis, a busy stretch, or a major project — contracting has been a proven solution.

But contract work isn’t without its perks for contractors, too. There are, in fact, some substantial benefits to working as an accounting contractor. Here are some ways a contract opportunity can give your career a shot in the arm.

Contract work offers great opportunities to network

Compared to full-time positions, where the faces you see will for the most part be the same familiar ones, a succession of contract roles will give you ample opportunities to meet new people, in a relatively short period of time. In addition to the folks you’ll be working with or reporting to, a six-month contract can get you face-time with the CFO, the head of HR, the controller, and other hiring authorities within an organization. A couple of different contract assignments in two years can quite possibly expose you to as many key decision-makers as most other people might meet in over twice that time, in a full-time position. This can be a great way to enlarge and expand your professional network, which you can leverage to your advantage in the future. 

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Contract work can open doors to different industries

It can be really tough to crack into a different industry (though there are some tried-and-true strategies for doing this). One way to make that move is to consider a contract position in the industry you’re trying to gain a toehold in. While employers generally prefer to hire people who already know the in’s and out’s of their industry, they will be much more willing to take a flyer on someone without industry experience on a limited term basis than they might be for a permanent role. By working as a contractor, you can demonstrate to an otherwise skittish employer that you have what it takes to succeed in your newly chosen industry or sector, even though you’re a relative neophyte.

[Contract work] can be a great way to enlarge and expand your professional network, which you can leverage to your advantage in the future.

Contract work can give you a trial run of a company, industry, or function

A lot of the recent chatter in HR and recruiting circles has been focused on the flexibility that contracting out work gives to employers — allowing them to add someone for a specific project or need without increasing their permanent headcount. But that flexibility cuts both ways. Contract work can be a means for you to learn about a new company, industry, or functional area, without having to commit long-term. For example, a contract role can serve as a dress rehearsal at a particular organization you’ve had your eye on. But if you decide, at the end of your contract, that the work environment isn’t right for you — there has to be a “fit” for both parties, after all, employees as much as employers — it’s simply a matter of packing up and leaving, and resuming your search elsewhere. You don’t have to worry about suffering through a big, messy “break-up” and making sure you quit without burning any bridges.

Contract work can help you develop and acquire new skills

Most full-time positions require you to settle into a role or field of expertise. One of the advantages of working as a contractor is that you take on assignments in many different accounting functions, from internal auditing to forecasting and financial reporting. Among other things, this will help to broaden and diversify your skillset, keeping you from being pigeonholed into any single specialization. Having been employed at several companies, where you’ve had to work with various different tools, equipment, software, and systems and in various different functional areas, can give you an edge over other, more narrowly trained candidates, if and when you want to look for a permanent role.

Contract work can pay handsomely

You can make some good coin working as a contractor, compared to working as a permanent employee. On the one hand, companies don’t as a rule have to offer contractors benefits, such as health and dental coverage, paid vacation and sick time. But as a trade-off, they can afford to compensate their contractors at rates that typically exceed the standard compensation for most salaried staff; many accounting contractors earn considerably more per hour than their full-time brethren. And because contractors as a rule bill by the hour, they’re remunerated for every single minute they’re on the job.

Contract work can be a means for you to learn about a new company, industry, or functional area, without having to commit long-term.

Contract work can lead to full-time work

Candidates sometimes express the concern that doing contract work would rule them out for full-time employment. In fact, a contract role can very often serve as a springboard to future permanent opportunities. As every recruiter will tell you, it’s a million times easier to find a job when you already have one in hand. Looking for full-time work while you’re in a contract position is vastly preferable to trying to find employment while you’re unemployed; many employers will look disapprovingly at candidates who are between jobs. And if you’ve been recently laid off, a contract role might be exactly what you need to rebound from that setback. Finally, many contract positions can directly lead to full-time opportunities. Perform well, and that contract position you signed on for three months could easily be renewed on a continuing basis. Or perhaps others in the same organization, who might have been impressed with the skills and work ethic you displayed during your brief tenure, may bring you back, albeit in another functional area of the company.

A good number of the accounting and finance jobs that come across our table at Clarity Recruitment are offered on a contract or limited-term basis, so there’s certainly no shortage of opportunities for accounting professionals who are open to the benefits of a contract assignment. Consider whether contract work might be right for you, and whether you, too, might benefit from the perks of working as a contractor.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) for more great tips and advice!