Contracting: Why I’m not a risk-taker but why I took the risk for my career
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I’m extremely excited to announce I’ve accepted my full-time role at Amazon as an Associate Art Director on the Home team! It’s a dream to work on a team with such incredible people and for a company that is on the rise. Prior to accepting this role, I was contracting as an Art Director since March when I left my previous role at Nordstrom. I was looking for “the next step” in my career but wasn’t sure what it entailed. Until a global staffing company reached out to me.
Let me first preface this blog post by saying, I consider myself ambitious and I’m a huge fan of setting numerous (and often unattainable) goals. But when it comes to stability, that is everything to me. I hate feeling unsettled in any aspect of my life whether it’s my career, relationships, friendships, living situation, etc. The unknown scares me and the fact it scares me away from opportunities that force me to “live in the moment” I’d say is one of my biggest weaknesses.
I was ready for my next career move but I never once in my life considered contracting. Sure, I’d been freelancing and blogging for the last four years but my stable, full-time job was where I received my income. Contracting always seemed to be a huge unknown and I’d heard horror stories about people who took the risk to pursue a contract job and never got hired or were let go because of a re-org. I started seeking out the advice from my boyfriend, family and friends on if it was worth even pursuing contracting or if I should stick to a “for-sure thing” at another company that had offered me a position. I was told the same thing over and over again: yes, it’s scary but you won’t know if you don’t try. This really stuck me. And so, I began the interview process. And weeks later, I was offered a position. Reality officially set in.
When I found out I got the job I was so excited and nervous. Excited mainly because it was for a role I had been hoping to achieve before I turned 30 and because it was for Amazon, a well-known company that has a lot of growth potential. I was also extremely nervous because this was in fact a contract position and there were a lot of unknowns if I’d get hired on full-time at the end of my contract or if when my time was up, my time was up. I had to get comfortable with that and prepare for “what if” that happened.
Seven months later, I’m convinced that contracting was the best decision I could have made at my age when I was looking to broaden my skill set and take a leap for my career. It’s a risk I’ll never regret!
Now, you may be someone who is sitting here reading this going – Allison, SO MANY people contract and spend their whole lives contracting for work, what’s the big deal? Well, if you’re someone like me who seeks stability and is unsure of why contracting is beneficial, I’ve decided to give you a little breakdown on why I found it to be the best thing I could have done!
1. It gives you insight into the company and the role. Contracting is almost like a preview of what it would be like to work at that company and in that role full-time. It's a great sneak peek into dynamics, company culture and what responsibilities are expected of you so you can determine if it's a fit or not. Because if you're offered a role as a contractor, it's still your choice if you want to accept it or not.
2. It gives you a sense of who you will be working for and who you are working with. Similar to above, contracting is a great way to get a feel for your coworkers and the dynamic you have with your manager.
3. You can determine if this is really a “dream job.” Sometimes jobs sound better on paper than they are in person. Contracting is a great opportunity to determine if what you thought was a "dream job" is the real deal.
4. It shows that you took a risk. Contracting is a risk in itself; taking a contract job shows that you decided to try something out of your comfort zone to pursue a new job, creative field or life venture! For me, it's been a great conversation starter.
I also wanted to share 5 additional tips with you on how to have the best contracting experience you can have (and why it’s worth it!)
1. Find a staffing agency/recruiter who is the right fit. It's so important to work with a staffing agency that you trust and that is excellent at communicating with you every step of the way! Do your research and at the end of the day, if it's not a fit, don't be afraid to stand your ground and say no.
2. Ask a lot of questions. Because this was my first time contracting I asked my recruiter SO MANY questions a lot of them revolved around: What can I expect as a contractor? What are the perks of contracting? What is the likelihood of getting hired as a contractor? etc, etc. While it seemed obnoxious to bombard my recruiter with so many questions, I wanted to feel confident in my decision to be a contractor.
3. Communication is key. If you are a contractor it is important to stay in constant communication with your manager and with your staffing agency. Stay updated on your role's expectations, how you can improve and be open and honest about your goals, wants and needs.
4. Be aware of the reality. The reality is, contracting is never a for-sure thing and that's why it's scary! But, that just means you have to prepare yourself for worst-case scenario if the job doesn't end up working out or just isn't a fit. Keep your resume and portfolio updated, continue to network and keep options on the back-burner just in case you don't get offered a full-time role. Often times, if you are working through a staffing agency, they will assist you with finding new roles that are a fit if and when your contract comes to an end.
5. Be willing to share your experience! I've since realized that contracting was not as scary as I anticipated. Yes, it made me feel uneasy but a huge reason it made me feel that way was from other people stressing me out about the negatives and "what ifs..." I've realized that having an honest conversation about contracting and its benefits and down-sides has helped others take the risk, too!
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