5 Reasons Why Contracting is Better than Direct Placement

Over the years I have observed that as a software developer gains experience and exposure, contracting opportunities excel direct placement ones because they offer five major advantages.

1. More Skill Set Development Opportunities

Every enterprise software development environment differs in age, size and complexity. As a result, every software development team possesses different skills, experiences and personalities. Taken together, these differences give rise to a wide range of tools, technologies and methodologies that differ from one development shop to another. For the contract software developer this means more opportunities to learn new programming languages, frameworks, IDEs, source control and data storage systems.

2. More Compensation

Software development is a knowledge business. The more skills, knowledge and experience you have, the more that you can command. For this reason, contract developers usually receive much higher compensation than their direct placement counterparts.

3. More Industry Contacts

Over time a contractor’s resume and contact information will make its way into the hands of recruiters and employment firms that he’s never even heard of. A wise contractor quickly realizes that each of these contacts can serve as a resource for future opportunities. So if he thinks of himself as a one-man business his contacts form a marketing department that he can use to find new opportunities whenever he feels like it. Now that’s power but with it comes great responsibility. A wise contractor will not abuse his “marketing department”. Instead he will nurture it so that when he does re-enter the market, he’ll have a legion of highly motivated professionals helping him locate his next opportunity. Now a “perm” developer does not usually have this kind of network nor does he need one –- until he is fired, layedoff or downsized.

4. More Interesting Assignments

Usually “perm” developers frequent the same place, interact with the same people and work on the same systems. While there may be opportunities to work on multiple systems, usually the technologies employed don’t vary all that much. Contract developers on the other hand move from one business to the next gaining exposure to and experience with a much broader range of systems and technologies.

5. More Travel Opportunities

It is normal for experienced software contractors to receive interview requests from recruiters trying to fill positions nationwide and abroad. A contractor with a hot skill set could just as easily land a lucrative opportunity in Silicon Valley or Wall Street as he could in his own home town. For him the scenery changes whenever he desires a change. The “perm” employee does not enjoy this privilege.

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