Hiring trend: Social media– contractor?

With the economy in dire straits, it seems as though many companies are turning to hiring on social media strategists as consultants instead of full-time,  full-salary (and benefits) roles. Though this is a bitter-sweet turn of events for the social media field, it’s also a great opportunity for true pros to prove their worth, all while having the flexibility of bouncing from company to company.

Why this is good for social media: By continuing to offer positions (though they’re contract positions) it proves that companies are still willing to spend some of their limited budget on social efforts, and understand their value. By offering the position as a contract role, the company is able to save on their end by not having to pay for pesky things like benefits and contributing to your 401k.

Why this isn’t good for social media: By failing to completely integrate a team member into a brand or company, that team member (or in this case, social media strategist) isn’t given the opportunity to truly embrace the brand in a way a “full time” employee might. They’re also (potentially) seen as a much more expendable line-item in the company’s budget.

(Think back to the recent swarm of layoffs: when you heard Google was laying off, who did you hear was the first to go? Yep, contractors.) Contract positions come off as a bit of a tepid offer– for some companies, it might come with a whisper of uncertainty instead of one of innovation.

For those of you who are social media strategists faced with the decision (or opportunity) of taking a consulting gig, it’s best to look at the company, the position, and the amount of visibility and influence you may (or may not) have over your teams. And of course, always remember: the salary is always going to look better on a consulting gig than a salaried gig, but that’s because they’re not paying for benefits. Before you accept, check out the price of a healthcare plan comparable to your last job’s, and then reevaluate your consulting offer. Still look good? Then I’d go with it.

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