Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My Views on I.T. Contracting v Full-Time Employment

I was recently asked to write a one page document on I.T. Contracting for a company. So thought I'd share it with all of you too!

I have been I.T. Contracting now for just 4 years and can honestly say i really enjoy it. Over the years I've regularly come across the debate, with several other contractors, of the pros & cons of contracting as opposed to being fully employed.
It is often something I think about and feel that one day I will return to full-time
employment, especially for the days when i'm older!

But for now, contracting is great. I get to work with several different people, at various different client sites, doing all kinds of different I.T. projects and usually in different ways!
I'm learning new skills all the time, discovering new systems and techiniques at every different contract. This is something that could never compare in a full-time job. Although I don't feel that I am a total expert in any particular field or system, what i do have is a broad knowledge of all kinds of systems, how they work, what businesses want from them and how they can gel them all together. It's great to be working on a project at some client site and be able to suggest complex system solutions that you have seen and used elsewhere, that the normal on-site everyday IT administrators have never even heard of.

Two major issue on this debate is always the money and the job security! Of course with contracting neither of these are guaranteed. (But then, with the current climate, can a full-time job guarantee long-term employment either?). I've found that when I am working, I am earning more that I would be employed, so the simple trick is to save some of the money for those times when you're not working. Many contractors I know with Limited companies, pay themselves the same steady amount every week regardless of how much more they earn. After all, shouldn't being a contractor also have the benefit of being able to have more time than usual!

I've worked with such companies as Vodafone, Computacenter, EDF Energy, Department for Work & Pensions, EDS/HP, The NHS and I've only been contracting for a few years! I can't imagine there are too many people out there full-time employed who would have worked with such a variety of large scale corporations.

Of course one benefit for working full-time for a good company is that you can usually get some good training and qualifications. As you may know, some courses (ie. MCSE) can cost £1000's. If you want these and you're a contractor, then you'll have to foot the bill, not to mention losing money to take the time off to do them! But when companies are recruiting, how much do they look at your qualifications? Many people will always argue that experience can be worth just as much, if not more. Of course, it depends on the company and the role on offer. Personally, I've completed 2 MCP exams now. I felt I should get some formal qualifications to show I am a "professional" and not just another agency worker. I actually have several qualifications now, please check my CV at to see those,

So to end my ramblings, I haven't really said which occupation is the better (or have I!), as of course this is, and can only be, a personal opinion. For me right now contracting is my first choice. But to the potential employer, whom we always wish for, with that whacking great salary and pension, with a job right on my doorstep - i'm waiting for your call!

Thanks for reading.
Stuart Sparks

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

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