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​Developer Jobs: The Pros and Cons of Contract vs Permanent Roles

07 October 2019 By Ethan Cohen

Adults Analysis Brainstorming 1661004

Many software developers face a choice that could be career-defining – should they choose a contracting role or search for the security of an in-house position? This is a choice that provokes equal amounts of confusion for employers, as they receive conflicting advice on how to build the most effective development team. The truth is that no single style of developer engagement is better. The choice for both employers and developers between contract and permanent is one that should be balanced with career or business goals. In practice, many teams blend independent and in-house developers to obtain the flexibility they need.

We explore the pros and cons of contract versus permanent software development roles for candidates and organisations, below.

Developers

Pros of Contract Roles

Flexibility is one of the biggest draws for software developers who choose to work independently. The flexibility to choose when and how you work is one of the key perks of contracting. This level of choice also drives variety. If you’re a software developer who likes to immerse themselves in new challenges, contracting could be the perfect fit. There is also the potential to earn more as a contractor than in similar permanent roles.

Cons of Contract Roles

Contracting can be great when you have a most-wanted skill set and the freedom to choose how you work. However, it can also cause uncertainty or lead to periods of no work at all. This lack of structure can be stressful and those seeking greater stability should consider a permanent role. The contracting market is also becoming increasingly competitive. This means that those contractors who don’t market themselves correctly or who are unwilling to invest in building their skills may miss out on sought-after projects.

Pros of Permanent Roles

Paid holidays and sick leave are not to be given up lightly. The benefits and protections that come with a permanent position are incredibly attractive and can be the deciding factor for some developers. Job security, funded training, and the opportunity to move up the career ladder can make a permanent role tough to turn down. Permanent roles have much to offer, particularly for younger software development candidates who are finding their way in the industry.

Cons of Permanent Roles

An office environment can feel stifling for some developers. The world has become increasingly flexible and for some, the constraints of a permanent role can feel restrictive. Permanent roles also tend to offer a lower salary and less variety than the same position on a contract basis. An exception to this is agency work which can offer the chance to move from project to project while remaining in a single permanent role.

Employers

Pros of Contract Roles

One of the great things about a growing market of independent software development talent is the choice that it offers employers. They have the flexibility to ‘try out’ contractors on a small project to see if they are a good fit before offering an opportunity with a more extensive scope. This is much easier to achieve with contractors than permanent staff who incur a high cost of attraction and onboarding.

Cons of Contract Roles

The flip side of all this flexibility is potential lack of loyalty from contractors. They are under no obligation to take your contract simply because you offer it. Organisations often find that the best and most-wanted development contractors have very limited availability. They also come with a higher price tag than permanent staff and it can be more difficult to maintain visibility over their work.

Pros of Permanent Roles

A developer in a permanent role becomes part of your team in every sense. They come to understand your culture and values. They can follow a clear career path that is aligned to the particular skills your organisation needs. In short, an employer has the potential to mould and guide permanent software developers in a more meaningful way than contract talent. They also come with a lower overall cost, though it may be more expensive to engage them upfront.

Cons of Permanent Roles

The software developers who choose permanent roles today are still looking for lots of the benefits that contractors enjoy – these include flexibility, remote working opportunities, and a diverse portfolio of work. This means that organisations who want to entice great software development talent have to offer a range of modern perks alongside the traditional job security and benefits package. They are also under an obligation to fund training and career progression. Engaging permanent development staff can be a greater expense over the long term.

Looking for software developers to grow your team or for your next development role? Whether you choose perm or contract, Ventula can help. Get in touch with our team to discuss your next move or candidate search.