On the virtues of contracting


I’ve been a professional artist for 20+ years now, and up until 12 years ago I only ever worked as a traditional full-time employee. I’ve worked for big companies (1,500 employees) and small ones (two, including mine). Nine months ago I got a call from a recruiter about a telecommuting position. Outside of my freelance work with small consultancies I’d never considered doing contracting full-time, but thought I’d give it a shot.

I’m glad I did because it turns out that I love it. Several reasons:

The pay has been great (75% more than I was making at my highest paid full-time position, and I was being paid very well there).

No commute. I can’t stress this one enough. My last on-site position had a 20-minute commute each way. I have three kids and now that’s an extra hour I get to see them each day.

Less stress. It seems like no matter where you work you end up getting involved in, even if just watching from the sidelines, office politics. As a programmer I just want to put my headphones on and get some work done, and working from home makes this 10x easier.

My current contract is almost up so I’m starting to look for my next gig. I’ve got a couple options for full-time again, but the sweet nectar of contracting is just too good. I could go back to my recruiter, but when listening to a podcast this weekend I heard about Toptal.

The first thing that stood out is their screening process—you have to pass their own phone and coding interviews before you make it to the site. Any other job service I’ve seen simply lets everyone in the door who wants in so I imagine it’s pretty overwhelming for employers and very difficult to find the good ones. At Toptal they claim that only 3% of applicants make it through the process. I never love interviewing (does anyone?) but I’m excited for the opportunities that Toptal could open up for me so I’m going to brush up and get ready for that phone call.

They also provide some tips for those looking for Illustrators and designers. I’ve had several previous employers ask me for help with interviewing and now I’ve got a great resource to send them to.

Wish me luck!


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