Career Advice

Weighing Working vs Employment

If you need a babysitter, get a job. All of the things that make employment good or bad involve the company treating you like a child. From dress codes to attendance policies, work sucks when the company acts like it is your family or your mommy.

That’s what jobs at companies are good for. For the small price of giving up self-determination, autonomy and enterprise, the organization will determine if you fit, what potential you have and the best way to move you forward. The people who broker these decisions have rarely, if ever, actually created anything.

It’s the last vestige of serfdom. Indentured servitude, no matter how generous the master, is still indentured servitude. Without the freedom to determine anything beyond the bounds of policies, your ability to thrive in other environments withers and dies.

And, the systems that used to support and encourage long-term employment are breaking down.

Working means taking charge of your situation, finding customers and creating the value that they desire. While you can practice this in a job, the real test of the value of your work comes when you become an independent contractor.

It’s surprising what you can’t see when your salary and paycheck is reliable and predictable. That’s one more aspect of the paternalistic nature of the employment scheme. The company suffers the vagaries of cash flow but the employees do not.

One evaluates companies differently when one is an independent contractor. Do they pay on time? Are their requirements clear? Do they drink too much of their own bath water? Mostly, it boils down to the two sides of financial risk …clear performance requirements and regular checks.

The law requires that payroll be timely (and that’s a fair reason for taking a job). Payments to independent contractors are more likely to vary with the economy. The real difference is that as an independent, you are more sensitive to the shifting winds. The end of a gig is much less of a surprise.

Moving forward, the workforce will be a blend that increasingly features independent contractors. They are more agile, understand contracts, easier to shed and more likely to over-perform. Employment and performance benchmarking will start to compare internal vs. external assets.

Take the leap. Being independent is invigorating. You always know where the buck stops. And, if the boss won’t give you the day off, you know who to blame.