At Work

Say yes to contracting

In part one published yesterday, the article looked at why contract work in Asia is increasingly being viewed as an attractive option by certain groups of professionals as well as organisations.

Temporary positions offer professionals flexibility and opportunities to gain useful experience in a variety of environments and enable organisations to hire the talent they need without investing in permanent headcount.

While this sounds like a perfect match of supply and demand, certain realities pose a challenge. For example, employers in the banking world are attracted to Asia in terms of its lower labour costs and are thus not encouraged to pay a premium to hire a contractor.

As a result, many organisations are not entirely open to adopting the contracting resource option as it brings about the uncertainty of income and employment beyond the contractual period.

A contract worker can constantly be on the lookout for his next assignment, a permanent job or both. In fact, there is a high percentage of people preferring to switch jobs approximately every few years, given the current buoyant job market and the limited supply of skilled labour.

Contracting in Asia can potentially mature into two different models:

1. Alternate long-term hiring

Many global hiring organisations find it a challenge to obtain headcount approvals for permanent positions in offshore locations, in comparison with positions on six-month to one-year contracts.

Thus, candidates are sometimes hired as a solution to bypass the headcount approval process and are then gradually given the option to be converted into permanent headcount on the basis of good performance, a strong business case or both, to justify the existing role.

2. Expertise-based hiring

Experts who are hired on a fixed-term contract complete an integral part of the project, or sometimes run a very strategic and high-visibility project. The expertise developed in this case can often enable such professionals to charge a premium for their future services.

A smart option

Whatever reasons an organisation may have for hiring on contract, from a job seeker’s perspective, this is an option with opportunities galore as the market gradually matures with time.

Contracting is here to stay, whether the job market is booming or facing a downturn. Job seekers should keep an open mind and consider their options.

Here are more reasons why you should say “yes” to contracting:

  • It opens the door to a new industry or a new profile.
  • It is a stopgap arrangement for you if you are in between jobs.
  • It helps to increase your cash-in-hand by clubbing in the bonus as a guaranteed income.
  • It gives you the opportunity to try out a role before deciding to move long-term into a similar position, without having to commit to your employer.
  • You gain exposure to new technologies and projects across the industry in a much shorter time span.
  • You can list additional knowledge, which adds value to your CV, with every new project you undertake.
  • It gives you the opportunity to prove yourself in a larger, multinational environment and get recognised for better roles.
  • There is a lower risk of losing your job since the cost of hiring a contractor is relatively lower than hiring a permanent staff member. Organisations are thus less likely to hire and fire you.
  • You may experience salary increments from one contract to another instead of having to wait for annual increments.
  • From a lifestyle perspective, it provides you with more freedom to plan longer holidays in between contracts or to invest your time in training to upgrade your skills.

In short, contract work provides you with a more flexible lifestyle while broadening your horizons and extending the limits of your professional career path. - Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Niharika Chaturvedi, a senior consultant (IT banking contract division) with Robert Walters.