How Contracting Can Recharge Your IT Career

Why out-of-work IT pros should consider contracting as a path back to the full-time position they want.

By Dan Cobb
Mon, March 29, 2010

Computerworld — Even though Newsweek declared the recession over last July, tens of thousands of IT professionals are still out of work . They're among the 14.9 million people now unemployed, of which the number of long-term unemployed -- those jobless for over 27 weeks -- was 6.1 million in February.

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The good news: The unemployment rate dropped to 9.7% in January, down from 10%, and stayed at that level for February . But that's little comfort to technology workers who are pounding the pavement looking for work.

Technology workers, especially older professionals, are increasingly re-evaluating their options. They're wondering if they should beef up their skills, jump to a new specialty or even leave IT altogether. And in all of those cases, they're weighing the risk of taking on debt to finance continuing education versus plowing ahead with their current skill sets.

But there is another option that's often overlooked: IT contracting. It's a solid alternative to permanent positions that can make other choices, such as continuing education, financially feasible.

You've heard all the arguments about why IT professionals should avoid contracting engagements: They're not stable. They make you look like a job-hopper. You'll have to look for another new job in six months. The list is long. But it's also flawed, especially in today's environment.

History tells us that contract positions will be among the first to see growth as the country continues its recovery. And that's exactly what we're seeing. Companies are turning to consultants to fill the gap left by staff reductions over the past two years.

I'm not suggesting that you abandon your search for the perfect full-time position. What I am suggesting is that contracting can be an excellent way to start working now, while you continue your hunt.

Here are some of the best reasons to seriously consider contracting while you look for a full-time gig.

It can improve your marketability. Contractors have the opportunity to pick and choose their assignments. This gives them the freedom to gain experience with a variety of new types of hardware, software, technologies and businesses. Contracting positions can provide a better opportunity to stay current with the latest technology than permanent slots. When one assignment ends, a new one can begin, exposing you to another company, another business vertical, another IT world. For instance, many companies upgrade their technology every three to five years. When they do, they typically turn to contractors to support the implementation. This beefs up your experience and your r?sum?, making you a more formidable competitor in the dog-eat-dog job marketplace.

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Originally published on www.computerworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
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