Employment numbers are at stratospheric highs and gas prices are plummeting, yet the U.S. economy appears to be on some of its shakiest ground since the pandemic began. It’s hard to know what to make of these topsy-turvy times, and impossible to predict the future. But a recent proclamation from the Federal Reserve suggests that, in an effort to spare Americans “far greater pain,” there may be no getting around all of us feeling a sting of some sort. And this volatile economy impacts contractors, in particular. If you are wondering if you should start contract work right now, we have a few things to keep in mind.
As expected inflation hikes continue and already costly goods and materials become more expensive, the trickle-down effect figures to force staffing cutbacks across industries. In the end, the Fed’s maneuverings may bring the economy back into balance, but there will be fallout for many workers in the meantime. Is a staff position a better choice than an independent contractor role? How should workers navigate the months to come? Start answering those and other pressing questions by first tackling these considerations:
Should You Start Contract Work? What to Keep in Mind
You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to make short-term preparations that account for the unexpected. And although we can’t know when the economy will stabilize again, we can be pretty confident it won’t happen tomorrow. Batten down the hatches for the gathering storm by thinking hard about what you want out of the next few years, laying out an appropriate near-term career plan and then building in a boatload of contingencies based on whichever way the winds may turn.
An advantage you can count on: Even in lean times, companies need talent. That painpoint can help blunt the ways a volatile economy impacts contractors. They may downsize and overcorrect, or they may be overly cautious in staffing up when it’s truly needed. Contractors often bridge the gap, which is an opportunity for those thinking ahead. If you’re a freelancer who isn’t already part of a talent cloud – or even if you’re a full-timer with anything less than rock-solid job security – consider signing up with PeopleCaddie to be discovered by thousands of employers looking for the skills you have to offer.
You are a business of one.
Even as a PeopleCaddie contractor working for one of our partner clients, you’d do well to think of yourself as your own business. You are a consultant or a vendor offering your services, so you should evaluate all the things other businesses have to consider: marketing, outreach, profit margins.
When was the last time you updated your resume or portfolio? You can add them both to the PeopleCaddie platform and allow our partner clients to find you via our search algorithm. Seek out jobs by category, location and more. Set your rates and bid only on the jobs that meet your salary requirements. In a less favorable job economy, perhaps you adjust those rates – or, better yet, find skill-building or educational opportunities that drive the value of your services into your desired salary range.
Risk vs. reward.
Is now the time to make the leap from staff to contract worker? Or, if you’re already a contractor, should you be looking for a full-time position before the other shoe drops? You should always be weighing these considerations, mostly based on your current needs and preferences – schedule flexibility, autonomy, lifestyle considerations (child care, health condition, etc.).
But consider this: A permanent job isn’t a suit of armor that protects against staff restructuring, and nor does contract work necessarily put a target on your back when cuts are being made. The “danger” of independent contracting during dicey economic moments such as these is relative – the perceived risk has always been greater than the actual risk. The rewards, meanwhile, can range from financial to personal, while expanding the pool of hiring opportunities for a job seeker.
Looking to shift from full-time to contract work? Check out PeopleCaddie’s blog for advice and information on the contingent labor space.