Why I’m Not Taking Employment Contracts

Why I'm Not Taking Employment Contracts

Originally published on virtualanthropologist.com


This article from The Guardian has been doing the rounds on many academic-focused Twitter and Facebook accounts. Including my own:


And for good reason. Regardless of what you studied or what job you do, casualisation is common, in my experience.


Why I’m Not Taking Employment Contracts


Why I'm Not Taking Employment Contracts


I have spent many years working on contracts. Some offered near-permanent conditions, others were casual. Even worse, others were through recruitment agencies. Not all contract work is bad, and I think there are immense professional advantages in the exposure to many different jobs, companies and so on. You develop your skills fast, due to the sink or swim nature of short term contracts.


Sheer Honesty

I got sick of not having basic working conditions. I got sick of not having sick days. Of working out how much money I lost from public holidays. I got very sick of applying for jobs, or for my own job, every few months. You can’t plan a life that way.



Lets not shy away from this. Money is an important thing that we all need to have and the more you talk about it, the less scary it gets. Banks generally want a secure job to get a mortgage. I am the sole income earner for my family. I am a carer for my husband. My dog has some expensive medical conditions. I’m not an extravagant person, but it’s really hard to budget for medical expenses when you’re constantly looking for work and saving for the time you’re unemployed between contracts.


Why I Started Looking At Freelance Work

The short answer? For my life. I currently work in an area technically unrelated to either my Bachelors in Anthropology or my Graduate Certificate in Social Change and Development. (Though I’ll argue skills are never wasted in any job, especially when your skills are from the social sciences.)  But I’m ok with that, because it is a permanent job. I don’t have to spend time looking for work, keeping an ear out for who is leaving or who has funding. In fact, doing an unrelated job allowed me the time to study part time in 2016.


While I’d love a permanent role that is relevant to my study, I’m actually quite ok doing something unrelated. It has the flexibility for my caring needs. But I want to stay “in the game”, which is how I came to start Virtual Anthropologist (edit: all services now offered through this site!) and the services I offer. I can take on freelance work that interests me and remove the financial pressure that comes with the contract/casual work territory, while still keeping my knowledge up to date and relevant.


Will that work? Will traditional fields come around to the idea of virtual/remote work? We’ll see. I’m not scared of trying.


How do you feel about contract and/or casual work? Has it impacted your household?


10 Replies to “Why I’m Not Taking Employment Contracts”

  1. I now work for myself but before that I was casual with a company. Flexiblity is great but it can be exahsuting not knowing what will happen week to week.

    1. Yep the flexibility side gets marketed but for me hasn’t worked out to be sustainable.

  2. I think you have to do the role that works for you (excuse the pun!) Good luck with the freelancing – it sounds like the best of both worlds!

    1. Haha – I hope it works out. So far…not so much 🙂 But these things do take time.

  3. I like how you are letting the day job do what it can for you and B and Vala and get on with what you love in other ways. I admit security of employment as a teacher in NSW Dept of Ed was/is gold.
    Denyse x

    1. It’s very rare to have that type of job security anymore – and yet our banking and super and all those systems still assume it’s a status quo.

  4. As you know I’m a bit worried about what will come next. There’s a job here I could apply for but in all honesty I’m not sure this (value-wise) is what I want any more. I mean, I want the money but I’m not sure that’s enough any more.

    Freelancing just didn’t work for me last time I tried it and I don’t really know how to make it work this time around!

    1. I’m pretty much in the same boat with freelancing but I have no reason not to push on with it, so I’m going to! It’s hard when choosing a job (or a better job) to apply for – but frankly I’m finding it so competitive that I’ve actually stopped worrying about it too much.

  5. The workplace and the way people are working has changed so much, and it’s only going to change more. I’m very lucky that at this point in time my husband has a steady job that allows me the time to build-up my own business and take on work that makes it worth the time & energy spent away from my family, I can’t imagine how tough it is to be able to do something that you actually want to do when you don’t have that security.

    1. I really wish that governments took the impact of lack of secure work more seriously, but I expect they just don’t know what to do about it. It is great that you have a situation that is working for you as a family though.

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