Ask a Recruiter Blog

Ask a Recruiter: Contract Work After College

Wondering how to get work right out of college if you're not one of the lucky few to land a permanent full-time gig?

This month, our Chicago Recruiter Meggie Thomas walks you through starting out with contract jobs. 

Betty B. asks:

Q: I'm a recent college grad with some great internships under my belt, but I'm having a hard time landing a full-time job. I've read a lot about "gigs" and freelance contract jobs, but don't know what those mean. What should I do? 

A: Meggie says...

Not landing a job right after graduation is frustrating. Then there's the age-old college graduate question: All of these jobs say "1-2 years of experience required." How am I supposed to get hired if I can't get experience?  I totally understand.
First thing's first: don't worry! You're not alone. Second: consider a contract position! 

Why Consider Contract Work?

Most college students/college grads have never heard of contract work so they don't know it's even an option after graduating.
Contract work is typically a job that is available for a set period of time. Contracts can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to several years. Some companies hire contract workers to come on board for a big project, to fill in for an employee on maternity leave, or if they simply need extra help. 
Contracting is a great option for recent grads...or anyone! Don't overlook positions labeled "freelance" or "contract" if you're looking for a new role. 

Why take a contract job?

    • It will get you hands-on experience and build your skills

    • It will expand your resume

    • It gets your foot in the door

    • It's better than not doing anything 

    • It allows you to explore different fields if you're still undecided about your career path

    • It will help you make connections that can help you in the future 

    • It can lead to a full-time job

My first job out of college was actually a contract position! It kept extending and ended up lasting 10 months. I loved it, learned a lot, and met great people. Near the end of my contract, my boss formally introduced me to one of their clients and this introduction landed me my next job, which was full-time. Had I not taken that contract role, I would have missed out on a full-time opportunity! 

Misconceptions About Contracting 

There are some misconceptions and negative connotations about contract work. We've heard things like "it's not as good or prestigious as a full-time job," and "it's not a 'real' job." 
That's all false! 
Contract jobs are still real jobs! In fact, most contract jobs are 9 to 5 just like "real" ones.
The two main differences between full-time and contract positions are benefits and type of pay.
  1. As a contractor, you'll receive benefits and pay through the recruiting agency you have been placed with. (Note: Not all recruiting agencies offer benefits, but Artisan does. ❤️)
  2. You are paid hourly versus salaried. Depending on the company and position, you can make very good money with hourly rates — sometimes even more than a salaried position.

What happens when the contract is ending? If there is still work to be done, there's always the possibility for the contract to keep extending and/or turn into a full-time position. The company might not be ready to lose you if you've done a great job or they might want to recommend you for another role or even a full-time position if it becomes available. 

Do I recommend looking for and taking a contract position after graduating? Heck yes! You never know where it can lead you. 


Meggie White BackgroundBefore becoming a Talent Representative and Creative Recruiter, Meggie worked many jobs in marketing, account management, and communications. She relocated from Chicago to Denver and is now enjoying the clean mountain air working as an Account Manager.

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