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Contract jobs are a great source of temporary income and a way to build new professional skills. Whether you’re a full-time worker looking for additional income, a stay-at-home parent, a teacher on break, a graduate, or a retiree, contract work is a great way to find work that meets your needs and interests.

In this guide, we’ll cover what a contract job is, how to find employment as a contractor or independent, and what to consider when getting your first contract job.

Table of contents:

What is a contract job?
The benefits of contract jobs
Drawbacks to contract jobs
How to find contract jobs
Can you put contract jobs on your resume?

What is a contract job?

A contract job is where an independent worker is hired to complete a job or service for an employer. These jobs have a predetermined timeframe and fee which is agreed upon before the employment begins. These positions are usually required for specialised services and expertise to help employers fill gaps in the project or team capabilities.

There are certain businesses that nearly solely use contract labour. This is frequently the case for small businesses that are growing, or for businesses who simply prefer to stay small and collaborate with other small businesses and independents.

With the advent of COVID 19, remote work and collaboration across Australia, has become the new norm. Knowledge or computer-based work, means that many businesses are increasingly using remote contract staff.

The advantages of contract work

Depending on your goals and circumstances, contract work might provide many advantages with little long-term commitment.

  • Gain new work experience
    Graduates and anyone changing careers can gain valuable paid work experience while studying or transitioning between circumstances via contract employment.

    Additionally, this kind of work may aid in the development of soft skills like time management, attention to detail, and liaising with. These kinds of abilities frequently transfer well across many industries, and they may one day help you land your ideal full-time job. Contract employment is also a great way for experienced practitioners to expand their skill set.

  • Earn more money
    Contract employment can help you create a safety net even if you have another source of income, such as a consistent flow of contract work, a regular full- or part-time job, or vested retirement income. Some contractors take on additional work during nights or weekends to supplement their full-time incomes. Being self employed also means you can command your fee and increase your earning potential without the overheads of a large practice.

  • Portfolio career (flexible/remote work)
    There is a growing community of workers who eschew the tether of one job or one place. Instead, these future workers sometimes follow contract work opportunities. This was very common in the 70s and is referred to as a portfolio career. You might have 1 or many projects, jobs, clients or income and as your lifestyle changes and evolves, you are able to cater your portfolio to suit. There are also opportunities for flexible careers that cater for meaningful part-time work arrangements whether they be workshare or flexible work weeks.

  • Meet new people
    Working contract employment is a fantastic opportunity to network. working with different businesses and projects naturally helps you to make new acquaintances. Additionally, you can find networking chances for potential employment prospects with those employers.

    This applies to contract work performed remotely as well, not just locally. If you want to connect with other like-minded remote contract workers, look for groups like those in the CO-mmunity.

Drawbacks to contract jobs

  • Contract work vs Casual work
    There is a common misunderstanding with the meaning of contract work vs casual work. Contract work does not mean the same thing as casual work. Contract work is for independents who have their own ABN and business (Self-employed). They operate on contract with predetermined fees and programs. Casual work is when the employee works for someone else's business on casual basis and typically with limited opportunities in career development due to poor schedules and hours. Casual hourly rates are usually higher to help support the employee in compensation for the lack of benefits. In saying that, contract work does have its limitations and can have less job security as it requires significant commitment in finding new contracts each time one ends.

  • Tax compliance
    If you’re hoping the client or business you’re working with will help sort your taxes, you’re unfortunately out of luck. In Australia, clients and companies usually pay their contractors the whole/gross amount, without setting anything aside for taxes. This means that as a contractor, you’re entirely responsible for:
    - calculating and paying your income taxpaying Medicare levies
    - collecting and paying GST (if you earn over $75,000 a year in self-employed income)
    - keeping records of business expenses you claim for at least five years
    - calculating and making Student Loan/HELP repayments
    -contributing to your Superannuation fund

    Thankfully our partners at HNRY are able to help automate this all for you, phew!
Did you know the architecture and design industry are primarily represented by small businesses, with 52% of them being self employed independents!

How to find contract jobs

Finding the right contract job can be easy if you follow the steps laid out below.

  1. Be aware of the type of work you would be a good fit for
    Before you start your job hunt, take into account your abilities, education, stamina, fees and personality.

    Are you able to connect well with clients and administer contracts?
    Can you use BIM software to document commercial buildings?
    Are your key skills in rendering or photoshop?
    Do you need to ensure you have a certain amount of income?
    Where can you work from?

    List the industries and sorts of employment you are qualified for or inclined to, and then match them up with your objectives. You should focus your search and first applications on positions that will most effectively use your talents and satisfy your preferences.

    Your CO-profile helps automate this process with a simple algorithm to send relevant jobs or contracts to your feed, based on the criteria that you provide in you profile.

  2. Look in the right places to find contract jobs
    Use the job search engine on CO-architecture to find relevant contracts (or full-/part-time jobs). Try using the search filters to narrow down the relevant expertise and skill required for the contract.

  3. Apply for the contract
    Applying for contract work weeks or months in advance is a smart idea. To ensure they have adequate labour lined up, many businesses will engage contract employees as early as possible, but they may not have the project committed straight away. So it's good practice to build your networks with employers on CO-architecture for when the time is right.

Is it possible to list contract work on a resume?

Yes! Your CV will benefit greatly from having contract work. Contract employment might help you update your resume whether you're a student, retiree, or parent looking to get back to work. Even if you now hold another full-time position that you want to stay, adding particular hard and soft talents you learned at a contract job is always an excellent idea.

CO-architecture makes it simple to present your work history and portfolio in one location if you're interested in freelancing. You may also add certifications or badges that demonstrate your professional qualifications and inform others of your availability for employment.

Start searching for your next contract now!