Life as a contractor vs permanent employee

I have come across this post on PPMNG Website, a social network for project managers. It is titled ‘Life as a contractor‘. It is a 3 part series where Mr. Trevor Roberts is sharing his experiences, merits, demerits of being a contractor vs. being a permanent employee (or Permie 🙂 as he calls it). This is a very interesting discussion, given the current situation where people are losing jobs or considering working as an independent consultant. It has generated quite some interesting discussions. For my part, I have posted these comments, which my take on what I have experienced with consultants/contractors/complementary workers in my experience. Please read through the post by Mr. Trevor and also sift through the comments if this topic interests you.

My take on this:

Interesting…I have always been on the other side of the fence. A few things I have found dealing with contractors:
1. Learning Curve : Not knowing the company policies, processes, standards will require more time to get up to speed. In contrast the permanent employees would know these better than a contractor
2. Relationship: Even in a matrix organization, it is possible that the PM would have worked or known his team from other projects or otherwise. This is even more so with the supporting organizations like Finance, HR etc.
3. Motivation: I do not want to stereotype or generalize, but what I have observed in a few cases is that the motivation to further the company/organization’s success is higher in permanent employees
4. Work hours: I am not holding this against contractors or demeaning their professional ethics, but the permanent employees are more than willing to work crazy hours to make a project successful. Delivering a project on time and within budget with good quality will always motivate a contractor but I have found this more of a case in a permanent employee

The two parts are titled:

I have not read these two yet. I will post my comments as well as share them here, once I am done reading. Your comments are welcome.


About Venu Mallarapu

I am currently working as Director & Global Client Partner at Cognizant Technology Services in their Life Sciences division. I have over 19 years of experience in developing IT Solutions and Services, specifically for Life Sciences industry for over 13 years. I have worked with small to large pharma customers to address their business needs across R&D, Sales and Marketing and Manufacturing & Supply Chain areas. My passion is Pharma R&D. I blog and write about varied topics in Pharma Industry as well as latest Technology trends that impact Clinical Research and have also presented at various conferences and workshops on wide variety of related topics.

One response to “Life as a contractor vs permanent employee”

  1. Emil Glownia says :


    Have you changed your thoughts about it after 4 years 😉

    Your comments gave me a few interesting ideas for my next part of “Contractor vs Permanent Employee”

    I agree with your observations however some of them probably can be discussed from various angles:
    1) If you have a perm yes… employing a new one has the same pros/cons as a contractor (unless it is internal promotion which has its pros and cons)
    2) I agree but probably the same goes for returning contractors.
    3) This is an interesting one. Most contractors run 1 person company but Employers don’t bother to motivate them… but as it is one person company there isn’t anyone to motivate them so in my opinion it is best if Employer doesn’t ignore this fact. I’ve worked with consulting companies that would have 50% perm and 50% contractors and there wouldn’t really be much of a difference in treatment or motivation. So I believe it is largely up to organization culture. If perms don’t like contractors than let’s not expect high motivation.
    4) It was actually after crazy hours I did when I decided… never again and it is much easier to stick to that as a contractor. I don’t even think it is beneficial for the company as there is a problem if people have to regularly work extra hours and very often investment in improving that will improve efficiency even when working less than 7.5 hours.

    Take care

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