The 7 Differences (and Similarities) between Full Time and Contract Positions

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Abby. Tagged: contract, job placement, full-time, Jobs, Staffing & Recruiting

As a staffing company, BWBacon markets and supports both companies and candidates.  Most of the positions we fill are technical or creative in nature – and, regardless of fall into a bucket of being either full-time or contract positions.

Some candidates and companies know, without a doubt, which type of a position is most appropriate for their needs, while others are interested in knowing the advantages and disadvantages of going one way or the other. Some things aren’t always apparent on the surface.

Here are 7 things we feel are most important in helping individuals and companies know the differences (and similarities) between full-time and contract positions.

1.      Neither Job Type is a Guarantee of Employment

Sometimes people make the mistake of believing a full-time position is ‘more secure’ than a contract role.  The illusion of more stability is something we hear all the time. However, in at-will employment environments, as we have in Colorado and throughout the United States, any job can begin or end at any time.

Generally, companies go to great lengths to justify headcount. They use analytics and projections to ensure the role is sustainable. However, if things change, or the fit isn’t right, there is no guaranteed tenure in most full time jobs.

2.      Contract Jobs are Not Always Temporary

By their nature, most contract jobs have a set start and end date. However, we have seen countless situations where the contract is continually extended or where the work load expands and these things can often lead to a contract to hire conversion.

Employers cannot legally treat contractors like employees, but if the fit feels appropriate for both to have a more permanent investment in each other, then conversion to a full-time role is a possibility. Oftentimes, the contract-to-hire path supports a longer term commitment than does the immediate permanent hire.

3.      Jobs with Start-Up Companies are Not Simply About Filling a Role

 Start-up companies need employees to innately embrace a stake in the company’s outcome.  Most roles in start-ups are not merely filling ‘gaps’, but key roles required to move the needle on product development. Most BWBacon start-up clients are not only trying to find an individual with a highly trained skill set, but in that same person, they are also trying to find someone to help grow, shape and define their company.

4.      Seeing the Fruits of Your Labor

 One of the primary differences between full-time and contract work is the net result.. Typically, contractors are targeted to help advance key initiatives. T hey are usually hired to complete a certain project, mitigate a problem and/or assist with bandwidth. While contracts can be extended, contractors are often about getting in and getting it done and then getting out.

This can be very rewarding, but generally, it’s the employees who will nurture the product into the future, and who will continue to refine, build, and achieve unique tribal knowledge with it – long after the contractor is gone.

If that long-term sense of ownership is important to you, then full time roles are probably best. Contractors, of course, can find this sense of ownership in a different way. They can see it when their code goes into production and into the hands of a user base - sometimes millions of people strong.

5.      The Life Cycle to Begin a Full-Time Position is Typically Longer than Contract Positions

Contract positions are traditionally utilized to fill an immediate need, whereas full-time roles are used to support a long-term business plan. As such, the life cycle for the interview process is usually longer for full-time positions.  Both contract and permanent positions, have tremendous value to the company, but the impetus to ‘get it right’ with a full-time hire is generally much higher.  Contract hires are often filled with a quick phone interview, or even through the benefit of a strong referral before parties even have time to talk or meet.

6.      Reputation and Receptiveness is King for Contractors

 As a contractor, you generally work with more companies for shorter periods of time.  You have set up an established business to conduct proper corporate to corporate engagements, and you carry your own insurance.  Your success in moving from one contract position to another is greatly dependent on your reputation and referrals in the industry.

It’s incumbent upon the contractor to always be receptive to what is on the horizon for new positions, but not at the cost of compromising current client deliverables.  It’s a balance and sometimes a struggle to continue looking forward while addressing all current client needs. Contractors can also find the gaps between engagements challenging. For some, these gaps are by design – it’s part of the autonomous path a contractor chooses. These gaps allow time for vacation, to be with family or check off that bucket list item, but if that risk burdens you, then considering the merits of a full time job.

7.      Difference in hourly rates

Due to the more impermanent nature of contract positions, and as a result of companies not needing to pay benefits and other full-time employee fees, contractors generally justify higher hourly rates than the equivalent of their skill set peers in full time roles.  With consistent utilization of billable time, good contractors do very well; they are spirited entrepreneurs who are constantly building their personal brand.

If you are looking for a job that you leap out of bed to get too, or if you seek a contractor that will help take your company to the next level, contact Denver’s technical recruiter of choice, BWBacon or view a list of current job opportunities now.