Latest research indicates that the New Zealand job market needs more candidates. However, many of the opportunities advertised are for temporary workers and contractors.

Managing Director of Hays New Zealand, Jason Walker, says many individuals are choosing to fill these roles.

"There are a couple of reasons, firstly there's work/life balance. You can choose when you want to work and take long breaks between contracts.

"You often have options of where you want to work and who you want to work with, so you have some choice. For others, say in the IT contracting field or now even in the construction contracting space, there's a potential for being paid a higher rate than a salaried position.


"A lot of people in the high-end run their own contracting companies so there's opportunities around how they manage their finances, and for some it is a lifestyle choice deciding on, for example, contracting for three or four months and then taking off the same amount of time for travel.

"So it's becoming more of an opportunity and option for people in the workforce," Walker says.

But what about the other side of it? What about people who feel forced into contracting because that's the only type of jobs they can find?

"We do see significantly more growth in the contracting space as a number of roles out there are project-based. Some are very long-term contracts."

He says, "For the really good ones, it can be an opportunity for something more permanent. It's getting your foot in the door.

"However, if it is a project to project type of work environment, it could be just that you're employed full time for a very long time, but you will go project to project, organisation to organisation."

One of the biggest challenges of this type of work is that you have to continually market yourself and update your skill set so you remain marketable to the next organisation that has an opportunity. "You have to continually develop new skills so that you're more attractive to more employers to be able to take more opportunities and they're going to expect you, the day you walk in there, to take ownership on day one of that job.

"There isn't going to be much opportunity for them to invest time and energy into your training. They're going to expect you to be the finished article from the day you start."


Walker says to do this type of work, you need to be somebody who likes change -- "it's a lifestyle where there are constant new opportunities, new colleagues, new styles of management - that's not for everyone."

Making long-term friends in a workplace can be hard when you're moving around a lot.

"You'll have to be outcome-driven - the focus is to complete the task. However, the upside is you do have your work/life balance. But for those who want permanent employment, it does create some anxiety because you don't know when or how or if you're going to leave. Your project could be completed early."

Also, you may get higher rates of pay and an opportunity to manage your own finances. However, it can be difficult to get a mortgage or a loan if you're a temporary contractor. Banks like stability.

"Those sorts of things do need to change," says Walker. "Some people have been contracting for more than 15 years with a different array of clients - this is more time than some people hold permanent jobs."

Also, contracting is becoming more and more popular with employers. "When they look for permanent staff it's usual that they want the silver bullet, that ideal individual who can come in and be the best of everything that they're looking for.

"If they're not finding that in an individual, quite often a contractor or temp will be able to address themselves into that role as cover and, oddly enough, that cover becomes essential to the organisation, hitting its goals or meeting its objectives and the person can be taken on into a permanent role.

"So, we see it as a door-opener, a foot in the door.

Walker says migrants benefit a lot from this type of work. "Where we're seeing this working really well is that employers will look at someone coming from overseas who does not have much New Zealand experience and has a qualification that's needed - they may try this person out in a contract rather than employing them into a more permanent role.

"It can give new migrants an opportunity to prove themselves they wouldn't have otherwise been given."

"Contracting or temporary work gives you more autonomy, but less security. I think it depends on your risk profile. It's a balance. Some people find that once they're in the contracting lifestyle, it works well for them. You need to keep on marketing yourself, ensure your skills base remains relevant."

However, if you prefer certainty over autonomy, this lifestyle may not work for you.