Being a Procurement Contractor – The Positives and Negatives (part 2)

desk forms smallWe're pleased to introduce the second part of a guest article from Samantha Coombs, an experienced procurement professional who has worked as an interim for some years.

I’ve worked as a procurement contractor and interim manager for over 10 years now. Yesterday, I outlined some of the benefits of being a contractor based on my experience. Today, I’ll explain some of the less positive issues – if you are thinking of moving into this sort of work, you need to consider both positives and negatives!

So here are some of the less favourable aspects of the contractor life that you might want to consider.

  • You can’t always plan as easily as you might like. You might suddenly finish an assignment early or get extended.
  • There is an inherent uncertainty and lack of job security – no regular pay, holidays and benefits, and downtime between contracts (if you’re not working then you’re not getting paid)!
  • It is essential to factor in all expenses and time spent into a day/hourly rate – from the potentially high investment of your time in sales and marketing to win new assignments, to illness, holidays, perhaps a long commute or travel costs such as fares or car parking.
  • Keeping technical skills and professional qualifications up to date to be ahead of the competition can be costly.
  • Full-time staff may be suspicious or feel threatened by you – the working environment can be anything from absolutely great to really not very positive!
  • Professional indemnity, employer and public liability insurance can be expensive, and mortgage loans to purchase property are more expensive for contractors as unsecure work is seen as higher risk.
  • Managing your own accounts can be a pain, and appointing an accountant to file accounts, VAT, and carry out corporation tax calculations with HM Revenue and Customs every year is an additional expense.
  • Contractors bear the risk of loss from clients who do not pay up (yes, they do exist unfortunately) which can lead to expensive solicitor fees, and even court attendance.

There are also issues if you decide the time is right to move into a permanent role. I’ve been considering this recently and have faced questions from hiring managers such as, ‘how will you adapt to the change of environment’ and ‘how can you demonstrate commitment as you have been working as a contractor?’

Well, I can reiterate from the start of this article that contractors are known for being flexible. We are easily adaptable to new situations as that is the nature of contracting and as for commitment, this is agreed at first engagement between the client and the contractor. Commitment is demonstrated through seeing out a project/assignment from start to completion. Most contractors project manage their work and are highly skilled in this area. It seems a little strange that some employers are hesitant about taking interims into permanent roles!

So hopefully I’ve outlined some of the positives and challenges. Personally, I’m at the stage where I’d like to secure a long-term assignment - but I’m happy to continue as an interim in the meantime. And I would be keen to start a discussion about the contractor life and whether others out there have had similar experiences to mine.

You can contact Samantha via samanthajcoombs(at), or LinkedIn, or Twitter @Procuri_SJ.

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