Why It's Good to Be a Contract Employee

For Ashley Schwartau, a graphic artist and video editor in Nashville, working as a contractor offers another financial reward her salaried counterparts don't reap.

"I get paid for every hour I work," she said. "While I don't get overtime, I also don't get screwed by having to work 60 hours and only get paid for 40."

A Chance to Broaden Your Skills

For workers who bore easily or fear growing stagnant -- or worse, getting pigeonholed -- hopping from contract to contract offers the perfect antidote. "I enjoy moving around," said Brannigan, the engineer. "I tend to take a new [contract] job every three years and get an adrenaline rush from going to a new state, a new job site and meeting new people. This helps to build my skill set, as I don't sit at the same job, doing the same thing for very long."

And Meister, the executive assistant, finds contract work a fantastic way to sample and gain experience in an assortment of industries.

"I've spent time at hedge funds, consulting firms, investment banks, public relations firms, action sports companies, a national home builder and the corporate headquarters of the Hilton Hotels Corporation," she said. "Everything is always new. There's always a new learning curve, adjusting to the culture and processes. I'm rarely bored."

A Shot at Job Security -- Yes, Really

If there's one thing the dastardly recession we're currently clawing out way back from has proven, it's that working as a contractor is no less secure than working as an employee. In the land of layoffs, everyone's fair game now. And in the world of contracting, you quickly learn how to stay relevant, nimble and imminently employable -- or you don't eat.

"I've been contracting for 26 years and have never been laid off," Brannigan said. "I find it to be much more secure than staying as a direct staff somewhere and getting laid off with no idea how to find work elsewhere."

People who still think the road to job security is paved with staff positions are missing out on one of the best-kept secrets of contracting: once you become adept at drumming up new work every few months or quarters, you stop fearing the almighty pink slip.

Instead, you cultivate industry contacts like nobody's business and keep a constant ear to the ground for fresh opportunities, should the need for a new position arise sooner than you expect. And you no longer need to read books and articles giving job hunting advice because looking for work becomes as natural as breathing.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and former cubicle dweller. Her books include "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire," and, "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube." Follow her at @anti9to5guide.

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