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A contractor’s dilemma: Work flexibility versus job security

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Just a few decades ago, the idea of having more than one or two career paths after high school or college was unthinkable. People went to school, got job interviews, took an offer with a company, and stayed there for 40 years until they retired comfortably with a pension.

Career Options

Throughout their career, workers enjoyed benefits like paid vacations and health insurance. While such a secure career was an attractive route for most, some workers longed for a career change.

Some, especially creative types, had an insatiable appetite for something that just wasn’t possible back then. Today’s employees have more career flexibility and many take advantage.

In many industries, the creative types (i.e. design-related workers) are calling the shots, naming their prices, and deciding who they’d like to work for. Like mercenaries, creators and designers work for more than one enterprise that need their unique skill sets.

Creatives and designers are people who can use Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design tools that create original work products such as an infographic, website design, user interface, or video content. Their skills are relevant whether they work for a bank (such as California Bank Trust) or an accounting software firm (such as Xero).

Contract Work

There’s a tacit understanding between creative workers. Most are contract workers and freelancers. They have more freedom but also have less job security. They can pick which clients to work with, but don’t get the benefit of a lucrative retirement plan.

For instance, freelance web designers may build a blog for BrickHouse Security, a security firm, then spend the next couple of weeks doing business development when their contract gets cancelled unexpectedly.

Globalization and Outsourcing

Businesses who hire contractors are free to let them go any time without notice because freelancers are not classified as W2 employees. Also, companies such as business intelligence provider QlikView typically don’t owe artistic contractors any supplemental benefits such as health insurance and dental coverage.

Recently, creators have seen lower market values for their work – thanks to globalization and strong competition from service providers located outside of the U.S. Tens of millions of knowledge workers do their jobs remotely from India and China.

Job Security

Many are good at what they do and are insanely cheap. Knowledge workers have been affected by outsourcing, offshoring, and company downsizing.

Ironically, the outsourcing of jobs to countries such as India and China has made freelancers yearn for job security, where you can be financially secure working for a company for 40 years and get full-time benefits such as medical coverage and 401k plans.

Today’s knowledge workers may have more freedom, but many look back to the old days when previous generations enjoyed more financial security and job stability.

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