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Contract vs. permanent work

I have been in SAP Basis for 7 years, 5 years in consulting company and 2 years in an end-user company. With the difficult job market now, I still have 2 choices: Go with a permanent job in a small environment (less chance to grow but secure) or a contract job in a large environment (more chance to grow but not secure). Could you please advise which one I should take to be still marketable? My destiny is secure but still have chance to grow. Thanks in advance for your idea.

I have been in SAP Basis for 7 years, 5 years in consulting company and 2 years in an end-user company. With the difficult job market now, I still have 2 choices: Go with a permanent job in a small environment (less chance to grow but secure) or a contract job in a large environment (more chance to grow but not secure). Could you please advise which one I should take to be still marketable? My destiny is secure but still have chance to grow. Thanks in advance for your idea.
I have to chuckle when you describe a perm job as "secure" and a contract job as "not secure." In today's workplace, especially for technical folks, there no such thing as "secure," just "more secure" and "less secure." And while that perm job may seem "more secure" financially, since it offers less chance to grow skillwise, it is potentially riskier to stay with that position than it would be to go with a contract that broadens your skill horizons and leaves you more marketable on the other side. I truly believe that the most secure path for committed SAP professionals is the path that maximizes skills exposure. The best way to minimize risk is to keep your skills cutting edge - even if you have to move from project to project and endure a bit of downtime to do so. Now that I've turned your question on its head, I have to put it back on you, as I don't know your situation. For example, if are married and you have kids to feed, then your "risk tolerance" is probably less than if you are single and unmarried. And you also haven't told me enough about the different skills each option would be giving you. But, all things being equal, I would go back to contracting if you're serious about being a hands-on consultant. In general, you will get better skills exposure that way, not to mention more chances to improve on your skills as you move from project to project. The main thing is that you need to get exposure to new SAP technical environments, especially 4.7, running on Web Application Server technology. It's a huge challenge to stay technically marketable and relevant right now - sometimes the biggest risk is "staying put." But remember: don't take my advice too seriously, as I don't know enough about your personal and professional circumstances to make any definitive recommendations. These are general rules. For your own situation, you have to carefully analyze the nature of each opportunity and the skills you'll be acquiring.
This was last published in June 2003

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