I heard from someone I knew recently that had been contracting for a company as an IT guy. His contract was near the end and he'd done a good job, so he was sure he'd be extended.
Instead the company offered him a full time position and he wasn't sure what to do. Since I'd worked both ways, he asked me what I thought and if he could have some advice. I did and decided to share some of mine as well as that I've gotten from others here today.
When you work as a contract employee, you are always an outsider from the rest of the employees. Even if you are a part of the team, you've been there for years, you're friends with everyone, you're still an outsider. There are always things that you aren't included in, HR related information, company or financial information, something is always restricted to employees only.
Depending on your contract status, you might not enjoy the benefits company employees get. As part of a contracting company, you might be offered insurance, vacation, retirement options, and more, but they won't be what's offered by the company you're working with. You can't participate in the company's success through stock growth, and typically you aren't a part of company events. If you're part of a smaller contracting group, you might even lose income when you take vacation or pay a lot more for insurance benefits.
However you have some great freedoms. Typically you can choose your own schedule, you might not need to work holidays, you probably aren't on call (first line support), and you don't feel the pains during company turmoil.
And you often get paid more than you would as an employee. This may or may not make of the differences in vacation and benefits, but it's always something you need to calculate when comparing the two offers. A lack of medical insurance might easily be overcome with an additional $5, $6, or $7k in your yearly billing rate.
The entire process can really be boiled down to a simple calculation. Calculate the value or costs of each side, insurance, vacation, private benefits, get them all into a spreadsheet. Add in the costs you'll incur to match benefits, even if you don't think you want them. Get the calculation done first and see where you wind up. You can always make adjustments sometime down the road.
Once you have the calculation, you're work is just beginning. There's an intangible factor that comes from being a part of the group. It means more to some people than others, and you have to sit down and really think about it's value. Decide what it means to you to be part of the group, to participate fully in the corporate culture, and to be a part of something larger than yourself.
There's a security aspect to being an employee. In some companies I've worked at I would count the security factor at zero, with no more or less likelihood of being dismissed in either position. But at others, especially some smaller ones, it was extremely unlikely you'd get fired or laid off. Again it's something you really have to consider carefully?
So how do you equate intangibles to dollars? You can't. Unless the money is substantially better on one side or the other, go with your gut. Choose the path that best fits you and your family.
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