What Does It Mean to Be a Contract Professional?
Contract or interim professionals are individuals who work on a contract or project basis, not as permanent, full-time employees. Each contract might last for a few weeks, a few months, or even be a one-off project. Contract professionals often go from one company to another for a short period of time, or work part-time for one or more companies simultaneously.
It might sound like an insecure career path or lifestyle, but knowing that your specialized experience and skills are in demand by more than one company can actually make you feel more secure and end up earning you a higher income.
Contract Work is on the Rise in Canada
The current Canadian labour market is now characterized by a steady increase in freelance or short-term contracts. This is true for the accounting and finance sector as well as for many others such as healthcare, education and hospitality. A common term for this new workforce is the “gig economy” or the “flex economy.”
Whatever you choose to call it, contract work is here to stay. As a result, an increasing number of companies in Canada are now moving to more flexible employment methods to cut costs and run a successful business.
According to Statistic Canada, contract work has climbed more than triple the pace of permanent employment: up 14.2 percent for contract work between 2009 and 2012, compared to 3.8 percent for permanent employees. The greatest growth has been recorded in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.
Benefits of Being an Accounting and Finance Contract Professional Include:
- Continuous Learning. As a contract professional you gain exposure to new functions and systems and the chance to broaden your work experience and expand your skill sets at a much faster rate than permanent employees who have been in the same job at the same company for years.
- Earn more Money. As a contractor, your compensation is commensurate with your skills and level of experience. You get paid for every hour of work you do, at the current market rate. If you’re specialized in high demand areas, you could command top dollar for your work.
- Opportunity to Transform Your Contract into a Permanent Role. Very often, contract professionals who do a great job on a project get offered the opportunity to stay on as a permanent employee.
- Ability to Evaluate if an Employer is a Great Fit without a Firm Commitment. If you don’t mesh well with a client’s personality or corporate culture, you can pass on the opportunity to renew your work agreement and wish them the best. It’s as easy as that.
- Better Work-Life Balance. With less time spent commuting, less office politics and fewer meetings, being a contract professional provides you with a flexible schedule that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
- Be Your Own Boss. Gain greater independence and freedom by controlling what contract or project you work on. Depending on the assignment or the type of job, you may be able to set your own hours and complete projects whenever you choose. You should also be able to negotiate pay rates and a payment schedule, but you may still have to keep a time sheet, if you are working on an hourly rate.
- Re-Entering the Job Market After Extended Leaves of Absence. If you can’t find work as a permanent employee or no company is offering the full-time employment opportunity you’re looking for, you can suggest working for them on a contract basis.
- Start to Work on a Part-Time Basis. This can be appealing to older accounting professionals who want to experiment with a second or even third career.
- Gaining Entry into the Workforce as a New Accounting Graduate. Recently graduated? Finding work as a contract professional can be your foot in the door and a stepping stone to a permanent position if that’s what you’re looking for.
If these benefits all seem appealing to you, you might be suited for a career as an accounting and finance contract professional. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly.
In his article, ‘Is Contract Work Right For You’, Rob Fletcher, Partner with The Mason Group Contract Recruitment Division in Toronto, talks about some factors you need to consider before deciding if contract work is the right choice for you.
Specialist vs. Generalist
As of today, contract work is best suited to people whose professional skills are already at a high level. In mega markets like the Greater Toronto and Vancouver Areas, there are lots of big companies with demand for highly skilled contract professionals in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting, tax and internal audit.
There’s also growing demand for individuals who specialize in data analytics, system implementations at scale, tax reporting and accounting, and public financial reporting.
“Hyper-specialization” in high-demand areas definitely increases your chances of steady contract work compared to other professionals with more general experience. Employers who hire accounting and finance contract professionals aren’t looking to train them. They want highly specialized and competent individuals who can hit the ground running and work with minimal supervision.
Freedom vs. Security and Financial Stability
Accounting and finance contract professionals often have more flexibility with the hours they work and from where they work. On the other hand, they usually don’t have other benefits that full-time employees enjoy—although many companies are beginning to offer contractors health and dental plans.
There’s also the option to insure yourself through independent insurers who offer extended health coverage for a reasonable monthly fee.
What about job security? Well, contract work is temporary by definition , with clear start and end dates. If your personal situation or lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to some “off” periods and/or irregular income, this may not be the right choice for you and your family.
Variety vs. Predictability
Working in different companies doing different things gives you a broad base of experience and the chance to learn different accounting systems. You can grow your skill set and your network. If you like change and challenge, the newness and understanding that it’s only for a finite period can be very attractive.
Clearly, contract work requires you to be adaptable and flexible. Being able to competently apply your knowledge and abilities to new situations is a talent and a skill that all contract professionals must have to be successful.
If you like predictability and a more traditional employee-employer relationship that’s invested in growth with a single company, contract work may not be for you. But if you have an entrepreneurial bent, relish new experiences, want the chance to move around to work with different people on different problems and issues, and do it in different places, a career as a contract professional can be just what you’ve always dreamed of.
Get in Touch with The Mason Group Contract Recruitment Division
If you think contract work is the right choice for you, the recruiters within our contract recruitment team can provide you with the assistance and expertise you need to find the right assignments for you.
As a leading accounting and finance recruitment agency in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver Areas, our team of contract recruiters have been highly successful in placing individuals in contract jobs with reputable employers in industries and roles such as:
- Accounting Manager
- Corporate Accountant
- CFO/Vice President Finance
- Credit & Collections
- Financial Analysis/Planning
- Financial/Regulatory Reporting
- General Accounting
- Full Cycle Accounting/AR/AP
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Director of Finance
- Systems Implementations/Conversions
- Property Accounting
- IFRS / US GAAP/ASPE
- Manager / Director FP&A
- Project Management
See All Contract Jobs We Are Currently Recruiting For