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5 common myths about contractors you shouldn’t believe

Published 10 days ago by Aoife Kelly

If your organisation has become overwhelmed after receiving an influx of work, hiring someone to help out can seem like an obvious solution. But what if you don’t need a full time employee or can’t afford one? What if you just need an extra pair of hands for now? In this case, hiring a contractor could be your best bet.

Unfortunately, many organisations will overlook the idea of hiring a contractor, even though they could be the answer to all of their prayers. This is sadly due to some common myths that surround the profession of contracting; the majority of which are false. Whether these myths have been created by organisations who had poor past experiences of working with contractors or by the jealousy of disgruntled full-time employees is anyone’s guess.

Out of the 1.4m contractors currently working in the UK, there will be a small percentage that are unprofessional and not up to par. This is undeniable. But it’s unfair to base an opinion of contractors on these few, when there are thousands out there who are eager to work hard and complete every task to a high standard

So rather than writing off contractors altogether, I want to share my personal knowledge as a contracting specialist to dispel some common myths about contractors that you really shouldn’t believe. 

Myth 1:  Contractors aren’t interested in integrating

Some people believe that contractors are not interested in integrating themselves into an organisation or getting to know their colleagues. While there are some contractors who like to knuckle down and get their work done with little interaction, the majority of contractors are eager to build relationships with their colleagues and immerse themselves in the company culture. I’ve had contractors previously who have been invited Christmas parties and Friday lunch clubs after only a short period of working for an organisation.

The contractors I work will also often express to me that they want to make a difference and gain recognition for their work, rather than being seen as just a contractor who won’t be around for very long. This highlights their eagerness to become a part of an organisation and shows that this myth is completely false.

Myth 2: Contractors are against going permanent and staying in one place

This is another common myth. Contractors can provide a bespoke service to suit specific needs and requirements and can work as little or as often as needed, whether that’s for one organisation or a handful. While they may have the option to continually move around due to the nature of their work, many contractors are happy to become permanent or extend their contracts for organisations they enjoy working for.

I’ve known people who have been contractors for their entire lives who build such a good relationship with an organisation that they then choose to become permanent or accept long term contracts of 2-3 years. This not only gave the client the skilled and reliable manpower they required but it also gave the contractor greater job security and a sense of belonging.

Myth 3: Contractors only care about money

The belief that contractors are only focused on money is yet another falsehood that many people believe. Contractors will negotiate their pay rate before accepting a job and this is often above the rate that is paid to full-time employees. This leads many to believe that contractors are greedy and only in it for their financial gain. However, contractors are often able to charge more because they are skilled experts within their fields and many organisations can benefit greatly from their knowledge and expertise.

While it may seem like they are being paid a lot, it’s important to remember that contractors have to pay for their own annual leave and sick days, as well as accounting fees, pension payments and insurance. These are all things that full time employees often don’t have to consider.

The pay in contracting is attractive, but there are other benefits that contractors can gain from their work. To stay ahead in their field, regular training is encouraged, particularly in a field such as technology which is always advancing. By working for different organisations, a contractor can update their knowledge and stay ahead of the game. In my experience, my contractors are more interested in the training opportunities that an organisation has to offer than how much the role pays.

Myth 4: Contractors are work-shy

When an organisation hires a contractor, it’s often during a period where they are experiencing a higher workload. So contractors usually have to hit the ground running and get stuck in quickly in order to help the organisation keep up with the extra demand. They may not always be with an organisation for a long time, but they will often work long hours and spend extended periods away from home to make a quality contribution.

The contractors I work with are often contracted to work a 9-5 day, but will regularly go beyond that to get the work done. There is a lot of pressure on them to get the work done by an agreed deadline and organisations expect a lot from them. Luckily, they are usually goal-driven and always eager to put the work in to get the best possible result.

Myth 5: Contractors and permanent employees won’t get on

The idea that contractors and permanent employees dislike each other is one of the biggest myths surrounding contracting. The reasoning behind this myth is often that the full-time employees can become jealous of how much more the contractors get paid than them. You can’t make everyone get along all the time and sometimes people do clash. But generally contractors work well with others and will make an effort get along with their full time colleagues in order to create a friendly and productive working environment. If they didn’t, no work would ever get done.

What I’ve learned from working with IT contractors is that usually they’re eager to work collaboratively with the permanent employees within an organisation and the feedback I’ve received from clients has always been positive. A lot have bonded with permanent employees over shared interests of technology and I’ve been told that permanent staff will often make a big effort to make the contractors feel welcome.

There seems to be an understanding that everyone is working towards a common goal and there are plenty of opportunities where they can learn from one another.

Many organisations are guilty of buying into these myths and will avoid hiring contractors because of them. While they might believe they are protecting themselves, they are actually missing out on the many benefits that contractors can provide. Thankfully, for every organisation that doesn’t want to hire contractors, we are approached by plenty that do.

As someone who has regular contact with contractors and an understanding of their needs, I hope my insights will have taken away any reservations you might have had about hiring a contractor in future.

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