Pros and Cons of Full-Time Employee Status vs. Contract Worker Status

As a professional marketer what would you rather do, work as a full-time employee or independent contractor? Here are some things to consider…

professional marketer

Given the current economy, marketing professionals have more employment options than ever. With the rise of digital marketing technologies, marketers can choose whether to be a full-time employee for a single company or to branch out as an independent contractor.

Some industries naturally lend themselves to hiring independent contractors, as opposed to having a traditional, full-service, in-house marketing team. For example, a law firm might have a Chief Marketing Officer who oversees the overarching strategy and direction of the firm but outsources the individual components, like social media or SEO services, to an independent contractor or freelance marketing professional.

Additionally, there are several platforms like UpWork that create opportunities for marketing specialists, social media experts, SEO professionals, and other marketing gurus to connect with companies looking to hire a contractor.

Maybe you’re thinking about leaving your full-time marketing job for one or more different opportunities. Both full-time employment and contract worker status have their own pros and cons. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of both.

Advantages of Being a Full-Time Employee

A full-time position translates into working around 40-50 hours a week (or more) at a set rate of compensation. The one thing that’s certain is that a full-time employee gets a check every pay period. If you have a family, the security of full-time employment is quite valuable.

Also, as a full-time employee you are eligible for benefits. Most employers offer sick days, holidays health insurance coverage and retirement benefits. Some companies, like Google and SAS, provide employee benefits that go above and beyond the standard.

Additionally, as a full-time employee, you are eligible for workers compensation benefits. These will cover your medical bills if you are injured on the job. If you are the marketing manager for a construction company and have to take on-site photos, this might be an important benefit. It might be a little less important if you are snapping shots of pillows all day.

Another benefit of full-time employment is a sense of cohesiveness that you share with your team. You have trusted colleagues to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and partake in general water cooler conversations. Companies benefit from their internal teams creating a sense of community and ownership of their positions. The more positive their corporate culture, the higher the productivity of the staff. In turn, employees have a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their jobs.

The Cons of Full-Time Employment

One of the biggest negative factors in working full-time for an entity is that advancement within the company could be limited. Depending on the size and structure of the company, there just might not be room for advancement.

On that basis, there might not be room for significant further development of skills either. When a professional maxes-out their learning potential at a company, they might feel a sense of stagnation. If your role is social media and that is your only responsibility, it can be hard to stretch yourself and learn new skills that might interest you. Depending on the company, the only option you may have is to jump to a different employer in a new role.


Working as an Independent Contractor

Contract work has some strategic advantages, especially if you have financial flexibility and you have alternative means for health insurance.

There are several reasons that an employer might lean towards hiring an independent contractor for a position rather than creating an internal role. The entity that hires a contractor doesn’t have to pay for unemployment insurance, retirement benefits, vacation time or sick time to an independent contractor.

Additionally, if the company needs a specific skillset for a particular campaign, they can quickly accomplish the job without having to commit long-term resources to a new full-time employee.

Because the employer doesn’t have to pay for the added benefits, the independent contractor is just about guaranteed substantially higher earnings than a traditional employee. Additionally the independent contractor can expense business related deductions.

As with most things in life, it is all about location, location, location. Some independent contractors can work from home as opposed to having to show up to an office every day. This is particularly helpful if you require a flexible work schedule that allows for setting your own hours.

An independent contractor also has the advantage of being able to work on any number of different projects over the course of his or her career. They’re more likely to develop broader insight and abilities which can translate to working on a variety of highly satisfying projects.

The Cons of Working as an Independent Contractor

As a contract worker, don’t expect any benefits at all. You’re responsible for your own health insurance, retirement and paid sick or vacation days. Independent contractors are fully aware of the fact that they’re only going to be on board for a relatively short period of time.

It might also be hard to connect with actual employees of the company that the independent contractor is hired by, but that doesn’t bother some people. While actual company employees show up at work at the same location day after day and year after year, the independent contractor might not know where the next job will take them – maybe on a photojournalism tour of America, maybe a button factory. The world is full of opportunities!

Also, being an independent contractor requires a self-disciplined professional who can create and manage their own schedule. This is especially true if you are working with several different clients who have high-priority projects.

A successful independent contractor is also responsible for generating their own business. On top of managing your workload, you will usually have to solicit new business. If the well dries up, so do the earnings.

If monitoring your clients and projects aren’t enough, you will also need to keep thorough records of your earnings and expenses for tax purposes. This requires organization and discipline.

The Right Fit

Whether you prioritize the stability and security of a full-time position, or you want to seize the adventure the world has to offer, either type of employment can be rewarding for the right marketing professional. It all comes down to your work style and priorities.