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Working parents: IT contracting may improve work-life balance

January 11, 2016
By Lisa Dare

When I returned to work after my second baby, I spent the first difficult weeks pondering something many IT contractors had told me: They loved the freedom to work for a few months and then take some time off. 

In fact, our contingent worker survey showed a sizable chunk of IT workers (21 percent) consider contingent work the ideal, and that number skews higher for in-demand skills like developers. Many who prefer consulting cite a preference for the flexibility and 9-to-5 nature of contract positions.

As an IT worker, you’re incredibly lucky. Your skills are in demand—so much that many employers can’t afford to keep you on staff year-round—and the project-based work makes IT a particularly good fit for contracting.

Moreover, IT jobs in general can be a great fit for parents. When PayScale analyzed flexibility and stress ratings for jobs to identify the best ones for working parents, IT jobs dominated the list:

  • Data scientist (No. 1 on the list!)
  • Information security officer
  • Software developer
  • User experience designer
  • Business intelligence analyst

Should you work on contract or full-time?

A few questions to ask yourself before making the switch to contracting:

  • Am I a good saver or do I have a partner with steady income for the periods between engagements?
  • Do I enjoy working with new people, technologies and companies every few months or years? Many IT contracting assignments fall into the six-month range, but consultants often find themselves in the same position for up to 18 months. 
  • Do I want more vacation time than two weeks a year? Most companies frown on or even prohibit employees taking extra time off—paid or not—whereas contractors have a lot of flexibility to take weeks or even months off between assignments without paying a career price. 

The great thing about contracting is that, unlike dropping out of the professional world for a few years to be with children, you can reenter the permanent workforce smoothly. 

Considering IT contracting or traditional work? Our knowledgeable recruiters, who place consultants in direct-hire and contract positions, can help you explore your local career options. 

Lisa Dare is a writer for TEKsystems who loves learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in the industry. She frequently blogs about IT careers, talent management and tech culture. Follow her on Twitter to keep up with TEKsavvy blog content.

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