From Gig to Big: Contract Work Creates Opportunity

In our recent blog, “Survey Says: Marketing Contactors Are Thriving at Work,” Marcomm shared takeaways we learned from our active marketing contractors who provided feedback about their current roles. It was enlightening to learn things such as their years of experience in marketing, what motivated them to take these roles and how their hard and soft skills are growing. The article also explored why employers are increasing their utilization of marketing contractors.

As a follow-up, Marcomm wanted to dive deeper into how contract roles create career opportunities for marketers of all skill levels. Based on what we heard in the survey, it seems contracting is a great option for many reasons.

Opportunity #1: Charting a career course

When asked about their top reasons for choosing contract work, most respondents gave answers that had to do with increasing their marketability for future roles. In some cases, this means “getting their foot in the door” at the company where they are contracting. But in other cases, they are gaining skills and experiences that will be valuable to future clients or full-time employers down the road.

Here are the three most popular answers that Marcomm contractors gave when asked about their top reasons for choosing to work as a contractor:

  • 75% saw it as a path to a full-time role with a company they wanted to work for
  • 58% hoped to build their resume or gain specific skills/experience
  • 50% thought it would help them transition to a new industry/role

Emily is a Marcomm employee who recently started a 12-month contract with one of Minnesota’s largest companies. With over a decade in the marketing field, she has personally experienced how contract roles connect candidates with companies they want to work for. As an example, her first Marcomm contract was a 6-month gig that led to a 5-year career at Target.

Since Emily had worked well with Marcomm in the past, she was happy to come back when the right opportunity presented itself. She states, “Marcomm is an extremely flexible, down-to-earth company—both for clients and staff.” Emily adds, “Marcomm puts client and staff needs first, and worries about dollars later. That is what separates Marcomm from others.” 

Opportunity #2: Stretching skills

In addition to increasing their overall marketability as a candidate, many contractors are interested in learning or building upon key skills that they can apply to current or future organizations.

According to a recent blog by Canada-based marketing education and training firm Acadium, a few of the hard skills that are essential for today’s “rockstar” marketers include marketing analytics, data analytics, writing, search engine optimization (SEO) and familiarity with WordPress (web design/development) tools

Marcomm was pleased to find that an overwhelming 92% of our respondents had learned or significantly improved in one or more software applications (hard skills) in their current contract role. Top categories of software skill improvement included:

  • Project Management (67%)
  • Web Design/Development (42%)
  • Digital Asset Management (42%)
  • Social Media Management (33%)
  • Web Analytics/Data (25%)
  • SEO Keyword Research (25%)

But hard skills was not the only area of growth. In addition, 75% of Marcomm contractors said they had grown in the soft skill of Client Relationship Management, while 58% grew in their Communication/Presentation skills.

As well as stretching their skills, contractors can also benefit from opportunities to apply their skills in a slightly different way. A great example of this is the story of Brian, a marketing veteran with 10+ years of experience, whose career took a surprising turn when he connected with Marcomm.

In the midst of his job search for a web developer role, Marcomm Founder Joe Foley reached out to Brian—but it was actually for a UX designer position, which works alongside a web developer. It was not a path Brian would have considered on his own. 

“I admit I was hesitant to look into it because I thought I knew what I wanted to do,” Brian recalls. “But it turns out the guy who has been connecting talent with companies since the ’90s knew better than I did, because I’m really enjoying working in UX design with this team.” Since starting this contract, Brian has been able to grow his software skills in applications ranging from project management to digital asset management and web design.  

Apollo Technical, an IT and engineering recruitment agency based in Atlanta, posted an article in late 2021 called “11 Reasons Why You Should Take a Contract Job.” Although the marketing and engineering industries are different on many levels, they do have something in common when it comes to contractors amassing a lot of experience in a short time span. The article asserts, “A long term employee… working at one company for many years doesn’t obtain the experience and knowledge a contract employee does [who is] working on many assignments in various industries and companies.”  

Opportunity #3: Finding freedom and balance

Another benefit of contracting is the sense of balance and freedom that it can bring—especially to those who are burned out or frustrated by traditional corporate culture. 

There are many ways for people to contract work. Some are looking for a shorter contract to give them a breather for a season, perhaps between full-time career commitments or during a career transition. Others see contracting as their preferred way to work—they are happiest when experiencing a variety of clients, projects, and environments. But either way, contractor life can be refreshing in many ways.

One interesting finding from our survey was that 58% of our contractors have 10+ years of overall career experience in marketing (not just contracting), and 42% have worked in contract roles for 7+ years. This seems to indicate that a significant number of Marcomm contractors are industry veterans who are contracting by choice rather than by necessity. 

One example of a Marcomm employee who values the unique perspective that contracting brings to her career is Danelle. As someone who is relatively new to the contract marketing world, Danelle is currently covering a role for someone on parental leave. 

She says being a contractor has helped her grow in a different way than full-time employment—especially in the area of time management. “It has allowed me to focus on my work instead of getting caught up in the politics that can come on an internal team,” Danelle reveals. “I’ve loved working with Marcomm; I have felt valued and have been grateful to work with a relaxed yet professional team.”

But just because contractors may not relish the chance to chat around the water cooler doesn’t mean they are not engaged. In fact, most marketing contractors are paid hourly and are generally held accountable for demonstrating the value of their billable hours—so it is in their best interest to be efficient, easy to work with and focused.

This LinkedIn article, which discusses the importance of bridging the culture gap between contract staffing and full-time employees, makes an interesting point. “Your employees, no matter their employment designation or where they’re located, want meaningful work… Striving together toward an achievable goal helps build culture around that goal and creates a shared experience of rowing in the same direction.”

Do you wonder how a contractor can help your company achieve its marketing goals? Or, are you a marketing professional who is ready to try contracting?

Reach out to Marcomm today to start a conversation or meet with Jamie Simpson, our Chief Revenue Officer.