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Contracting mindset tips: If you don’t like it, just quit and move on

As an employee, employment law provides limited protection from bad managers and none against sheer boredom. Highly skilled contractors unhappy with their work associates or unfulfilled by their work, can simply choose to quit and find another contract.

Would you hang around for more abuse from a bullying boss?

You’ve hired a highly recommended local electrician to rewire your house. If you treat her like a skivvy, demanding she also cuts the lawn, do you think she’ll complete your project?

As a highly trained ‘big-four’ forensic accountant, you can take your pick of plum jobs. So why would you hang around putting up with a boss who regularly yells at you and finds fault with perfect work?

Let’s say you’ve few formal skills, you’re on minimum wage and spent six months getting on the preferred temp list, only to find that each day your responsibilities increase but your pay does not. Are you going to sign up for another week’s work?

Employment is a double-edged sword

Your employer can, within reason, pretty much tell you what to do, when to do it and precisely how. So if you are moved onto less important and interesting projects, but your job description does not change, then that’s tough, and you probably aren’t able to do anything about it.

Even highly skilled professional employees can find themselves saddled with an abusive manager and ironically, the higher up the professional and managerial ladder you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to do anything about it.

As an unskilled or low skilled temporary worker, you are one among millions of UK workers from which employers can pick and choose. You might be expected to perform all sorts of additional tasks not reflected in your pay, but you have to accept that state of affairs if you want to keep the assignment.

Contractors are highly skilled, in demand and can move on quickly

But it’s not like that for contractors, who run independent businesses, are not employees, and cannot be told what to do, or when and how to do it. As a contractor, you have invested in developing expert skills to enhance your contracting career and, when these are in greater demand, they often command high rates of pay.

If you are prudent, you ensure you earn more than you spend, which allows you to build a substantial buffer for downtime. That also means you can leave an assignment immediately if it is not working out, as you will have the cash to tide you over when finding new work, which will happen quickly with your highly developed skills.

And if you don’t like the people you work with, or the nature of the assignment is less challenging than you had expected, just quit and go find another, better contract. Or alternatively, if the weather is nice, sit in the garden or on a beach counting your money for a few weeks.

Contractor mindset tip:

Contractors who invest to develop their skills can choose to quit and move on when a contract no longer meets their expectations.

Published: 07 April 2011

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