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Contract employment has its advantages and disadvantages. Within the current economic environment, companies and professionals are beginning to see that these advantages outweigh the downsides, and it’s becoming a popular career option for professionals of all levels of experience. Here are six top reasons why contract employment is growing in popularity in Hong Kong.
Contract terms can last for a few months for situations like maternity cover or support while an open role is filled. They can also run up to a full year or more for project roll outs, or if a company is reviewing staffing needs or hiring budget for permanent positions. Contractors can use this variety to their advantage and build out a career with a good amount of flexibility. Contractors are able to choose when they work, if they want to take breaks in between jobs, or if they want to fill up a year or more and then take a break.
The flexibility can also be an advantage if you have major life changes, family commitments, are planning to study, or are pursuing a passion project and you need income until it gets off the ground. With a flexible timeline, contractors can plan out their upcoming year in a way that works for them.
As long as contractors take the essential step of learning how to build a pipeline of freelance jobs and opportunities, working in this way provides much flexibility that is not found with full-time, permanent employment.
Related: Your definitive guide to contracting work: the good, the bad, and the reality
Many contracting jobs pay a higher per hour rate than full-time positions since they come with different benefits and hiring conditions. Additionally, the acceptable asking rate for those with highly specialised experience is higher due to that expertise. Some of Hong Kong's top-paying contractor jobs are in Finance and IT, but virtually any contracting professional who has the right experience for a company’s needs can negotiate a favourable rate.
Many contractors find themselves working for several different companies in a year. They may be working for a company in the banking industry for the first half of the year, and then move into tech in their next contract role. Even if the job itself is similar, contractors can gain a large amount of experience in a much shorter time frame than in a permanent position. Exposure to different situations, various teams and seeing solutions from different perspectives adds to this experience.
As a contractor, professionals usually have to hit the ground running, communicate effectively from day one, learn how to quickly do the job at hand and build rapport with other team members. Doing this rapidly builds up soft skills and transferable skills, as the short time frame requires adaptability to be successful.
These soft skills, such as communication, stakeholder management, teamwork and problem solving, re highly transferable and in high demand for professionals across industries.
In an economic downturn, there are fewer open roles available and higher competition — this is the reality that many professionals face, especially considering the current Covid-19 pandemic. However, companies still have hiring needs, and increasingly turn to contract roles as a temporary solution. Professionals are finding that even if there aren’t many full-time jobs available in their field, there are opportunities for contract work and project-based roles. These contract positions are ideal temporary measures for professionals out of work. Besides, contract work usually has the option of turning to full-time work down the road.
Related: Popular contracting careers and industries in Hong Kong
If a professional tries contracting and finds that it isn’t right for any number of reasons, it’s fairly easy to find the way back to full-time employment. The experience and soft skills gained as a contractor help prepare for success in any role. Contracting also helps build up networks and references — all advantages when preparing to make the way back into the workforce in a full-time, permanent role.
Contracting employment is widespread in Hong Kong for all these reasons listed above. We see more professionals turning to contracting as a full-time career option. Contract professionals are in high demand at the moment and can find exciting roles in any function or industry. If you’re thinking of giving contracting a try, start here with open contracting jobs.
Read more:3 important transferable skills for your career8 guaranteed ways to stand out during the hiring processMaximise your time: 10 essential free tools for contractors
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Page Personnel (EA Licence No. 71375) is a brand name of Michael Page International (Hong Kong) Limited 米高蒲志國際(香港)有限公司 (Company No.176887, EA Licence No.73125) is part of the PageGroup. Office address: Suite 1803, Central Tower, 28 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong