According to a Gallup poll by Statista, approximately 36% of US workers are a part of the gig economy. And as the gig economy expands three times faster than the US workforce as a whole, it is estimated that more than half of the US Workforce will participate in the gig economy by 2027.
Undoubtedly the lure of being your own boss and having a flexible schedule are two of the many drivers in the popularity of the gig economy. Among the industries where contract work is booming, life sciences/biotech is certainly one of them. If you’re just starting out in the industry, however, taking the leap into a contract role can be difficult. While there are plenty of benefits to be had working for yourself, contract work, on the whole, is plagued with misconceptions and stereotypes.
Ahead we’ll take a look at a few of the common misconceptions of contract work as it relates to the life sciences field and debunk some of those myths so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
Benefits of Contract Work in The Life Sciences Industry
People often associate contract work with a lower rate of pay, but the truth is things are changing, not only in the pharmaceutical industry but in many other industries as well.
Statistically, contractors make more than permanent employees because companies are simply willing to pay more. With contract workers, companies don’t have to think about covering down for health benefits, unemployment compensation, social security taxes, medicare, and 401K contributions. So, in the absence of those benefits, there’s usually a nice bump in the comp. Fortunately, companies realize that the pay must be high enough to compensate for the lack of a steady income.
Additionally, contractors will often find that the expertise they bring to the table will help them win higher-paying contracts. The fact is, companies are looking for a certain level of expertise and have no qualms paying top-dollar for it.
Builds Skills and Experience Quickly
One of the great things about contract work is that you can build your skillset quickly and gain a great deal of experience in a short amount of time.
With contract work, you are likely to perform a specific function for a wide range of companies. Moving through these companies and working on different projects exposes you to systems and workflows that you may not otherwise have access to as a permanent employee with one company.
As part of the permanent staff for any company, there’s plenty to learn on a new job, after a few months or so, it just becomes repetitive. Contract work, on the other hand, offers an unprecedented opportunity to diversify your skillset and jump through opportunities at an exponentially faster pace.
The Freedom to Choose
With contract positions, you have the flexibility to cherry-pick the clients you want to work with. You can take the jobs that interest you and skip the ones that don’t. Plus, you have the freedom to choose the contracts that best suit you, whether it be based on length or location.
Common Misconceptions of Contract Work in The Life Sciences Industry
Lack of Security
A lack of job security is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about contract work, and it’s often the #1 issue people need to overcome. But the truth is, job security is not all it’s cracked up to be.
When it comes to layoffs and terminations, full-time employees are typically the first to get cut. Remember that layoffs are often an effort to cut spending and save money, so it stands to reason that companies will look to cut the employees that cost them the most. In this case, that amounts to the employees who cost more in the long run when you examine expenses like comprehensive benefits packages, paid time-off, unemployment benefits, and the like. Contractors, on the other hand, do not cost companies anything beyond what it costs to get the job done.
Plus, if you’re working with a staffing firm, your recruiter will ensure you have a steady pipeline of contract roles so you can seamlessly move from one assignment to the next with minimal disruption.
Another misconception of contract work in the biotech industry is that it’s a feast or famine payday, and there’s a constant hustle. Here again, the opposite is true. The biotech world is essentially set up for contract workers – the growth of the pharmaceutical sector over the years has opened the floodgates for biotech contract work as more and more companies seek qualified professionals to help them grow.
Contract workers, even those that are just starting out, will find that there are plenty of opportunities to find work. Most jobs are set up to be contract-friendly, and coupled with smart networking, there’s very little need for “the hustle.”
Networking Is Difficult
Another common misconception of contract work is that networking becomes exponentially more difficult because you’re not in one place forming relationships — but the exact opposite is true. In fact, contracting is one of the best ways to build a larger professional network.
Remember that by design, you are moving through multiple companies in the course of a year, let’s say. With that much movement, you have more opportunities to interact with far more people and therefore expand your network.
With contract work, you’ll likely have access to a more diverse group of people as well, and if you take the time to cultivate these opportunities, you can walk away with a pretty robust network that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Photo credit: Canva
by Alyssa Pepe, R&D Technical Recruiter, Planet Pharma