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Is A Contract Position Worth The Risk?

Is A Contract Position Worth The Risk?

Alison Green l Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I am trying to decide if it is too risky to leave my current position for a better one that is a contract position.

I’m currently underemployed. I’m making $30,000/yr less than I did before I was laid off, but at least I’m working in my field. I don’t enjoy my job, my department is quite dysfunctional, and I don’t make enough to keep my head above water. If I don’t find a new job soon, I will have to foreclose on my house. On the bright side, my job is very secure. My company was recently awarded a large government contract so we are safe from lay-offs for at least 4 years.

I have an opportunity to take a better position with a fabulous company. The job is more aligned with my long term career goals. The downside is it’s a contract position for 1 year. The salary is close to what I used to make. It would be enough to allow me to keep my house and work my way out of debt, even after I factor in that I would have to buy my own health insurance.

I’m torn between sticking with the security of my current job, even though I’m in the red every month vs. a job that would cover my expenses but has the risk of being unemployed a year from now. I know you don’t have a crystal ball to predict what the economy will be like next year. I just want to make sure I’m not missing something when I weigh the risks vs. benefits. I feel like I’m so concerned with the money that I’m overlooking something else. What am I missing?

I’d take the contract job. Here’s why:

If you stay in your current job, you know you will lose your house. That’s guaranteed, and that’s a big deal. Yes, you have employment for four years, but it’s employment that you don’t like and which isn’t paying you what you’re worth somewhere else. So you’d be signing up for four years of low quality of life. (There’s also no certainty that you’ll be secure there for four years, despite the contract. You could clash with a boss, they could lose the contract, etc.)

If you take the contract job, you push yourself forward, professionally and financially. You know it only lasts a year, so you can spend that year networking and building relationships — and your savings — so that when it’s time to move on, you have a safety net waiting for you.

Anyone want to disagree?

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