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Thread: doing contract work

  1. #21
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    Just saw on another forum that Texas and Florida are adding jobs at record pace. Having to move for work is not fun and of course some people can’t move.

  2. #22
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    Ap, there are so many people in your situation. Somehow this country has gotten into a terrible situation. People who are willing to work and smart should not have to struggle like this to get jobs. I've been thinking that if I retire or get canned this year and and I run into financial difficulties, one of my "fallbacks" is to apply to a retailer with a good track record for treating employees well. There are a few out there. Maybe that could work for you if your current contract runs out. Just a thought. You sound like a super smart resourceful person, you deserve better than this. Sending you good vibes.
    Thanks.

    Yea I've even thought I should work retail weekends or something now so I had that experience. But really I'd have to think long and hard, as there's a limit to how much I really should over-schedule myself, but desperate fear drives such thoughts.

    But ETA: contract work goes okay. Bf probably did Not get the contract position HE interviewed for I mentioned earlier in this thread (like I said he has a full time job now though - bad in many ways though). I tried very hard to be supportive of him there as he wanted to get that contract position, I did try despite myself, but I failed to be so fully, as all I could think was: good heavens we're both going to be unemployed at the same time when contracts run out! Also he said he was thinking of taking the contract work because he thought it would advance his career. I inwardly screamed, because I think I got into this morass switching full time jobs initially trying to make decisions that I thought would advance my career and well clearly it didn't work out, mostly due to bad luck of getting a bully, but ALSO I now think it's very hard (impossible perhaps) to predict the job market that way and what job really will advance a career or not.

    If we both were unemployed and unable to find work I could see me living with my elderly mom in her falling apart shack really as plan Z. But that's not for now anyway.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  3. #23
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    all I could think was: good heavens we're both going to be unemployed at the same time when contracts run out! Also he said he was thinking of taking the contract work because he thought it would advance his career. I inwardly screamed, because I think I got into this morass switching full time jobs initially trying to make decisions that I thought would advance my career and well clearly it didn't work out, mostly due to bad luck of getting a bully, but ALSO I now think it's very hard (impossible perhaps) to predict the job market that way and what job really will advance a career or not.
    I did contract work for several years in my career. It was a different job market back then (outsourcing was relatively rare, etc.). In contract work, you're very aware of when the contract ends and you're keeping your eyes open for the next job; it's shifting sand all the time until it happens. There were two times when I got to the end of a contract without another job. Once I got a new contract (at a different company) the very last day I finished my existing contract. Another time I was "on the bench" for about a month. It worked out; my wife and I knew this could happen so we socked away a little of my income for the dry spells (that might be another difference from contracting today).

    While many of the skills I learned were transferable and I got lots of great experience, the different jobs rarely fit together in a way one would call "advancing a career". 's okay; my career was a series of improbably lateral and upward leaps. Perhaps if I had my eyes on a corner office somewhere I would have considered it deficient. But I enjoyed getting to know some companies from the inside out (some enough to know I never wanted to work there "permanently") and met some great people along the way (some of them still friends). Contract work is in many ways a different animal than being a full-time employee. But it has some pluses if you're of the mind to pursue it.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  4. #24
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    I did contract work for several years in my career. It was a different job market back then (outsourcing was relatively rare, etc.).
    I remember it, it was even a world in which people worked for themselves sometimes (in software etc.). You really don't see that very much now (in that industry, sure in entirely different things you do).

    They also don't do long term contracts now as the government highly discouraged them and that I learned from my present employer (the government thought they were a way to avoid hiring full time employees - of course they were). So contracts seldom go over a year now and don't tend to be extended, once in a while you see a rare 2 year contract or something.

    In contract work, you're very aware of when the contract ends and you're keeping your eyes open for the next job; it's shifting sand all the time until it happens.
    I'm honestly not sure how that works, especially with a contract that doesn't last long to begin with. And they aren't always entirely sure of how long a contract will even last. No paid time off, so how to interview? Take unpaid time? Ok sure but you can't miss your ACTUAL job ALL THE TIME even if it is contract, to interview right and left and yes it looks even worse given you don't even have vacation or sick time (well very little sick time anyway). But that problem exists in a full time job if seeking a new one? To a degree. But you can take your time and space it out (depending on how desperate you are to get out) - there may not be some rush - must get a new job now! Also if you work somewhere that has paid time off and people are allowed to use it, it doesn't look bad to take it.

    It worked out; my wife and I knew this could happen so we socked away a little of my income for the dry spells (that might be another difference from contracting today).
    I will but being realistic, you can't sock away vast amounts of savings working a few months. If my life consists of working a few months a year from now on, I am in trouble

    Contract work is in many ways a different animal than being a full-time employee. But it has some pluses if you're of the mind to pursue it.
    It has some pluses, if I didn't feel so economically vulnerable, it would be highly appealing just for variety. But I come to it out of long term unemployment, and I don't see any reason that can't happen again, and it leaves me scared.

    As for advancement:
    1) old old rules: stay with a company for life - get the gold watch and the pension
    2) newer but now also maybe obsolete rules (what my generation was told) - companies have no loyalty to you, have no loyalty to them, just think about improving yourself as a product, jump companies to advance yourself etc.
    3) new rules: if you can actually manage to get a decent paying full time job, thank your lucky stars and hold on to it for dear life. companies still have no loyalty to you, and some day a pink slip or even training your replacement, but everything else is gigs and low paid work as far as the eye can see, ride the gravy train as far as it goes.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  5. #25
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveinMN
    In contract work, you're very aware of when the contract ends and you're keeping your eyes open for the next job; it's shifting sand all the time until it happens.
    I'm honestly not sure how that works, especially with a contract that doesn't last long to begin with. And they aren't always entirely sure of how long a contract will even last. No paid time off, so how to interview?
    The organization offering the contract has to know when you'll no longer be there (more so if you're one of a team). Payroll and Security certainly want a defined end date. Most contracts can handle a somewhat-negotiable start date (just as "permanent" job start dates are negotiable).

    Besides, you're not taking time to interview willy-nilly. You (most likely) are represented by a company that's handling stuff for you like Social Security deductions and the like. If they want to continue making money off you as a contractor it is in their best interests to find another position for you by the time this contract ends (or they'll know it has a pretty good chance of continuing). So they'll shop you around. They'll be talking to their customers trying to get an idea of what's coming down the pike; they'll be looking for new openings at other companies for which your skills can fill the bill.

    As for the interviews themselves, you get some time off for lunch, yes? Or you could meet after hours. Or before. Your long commute makes that problematic. But phones and teleconferencing (Skype, FaceTime) can work (did for me). I'm saying there are ways of interviewing with a hiring manager that don't involve taking tons of time off work (paid or unpaid). n.b., my contracts were set so that if I did not work I did not get paid. Sick time, vacation, leave early for a doctor's appointment or an interview, etc.: sorry, the paycheck's a little short this time. It's part of contract work and something you, as the contractor, need to negotiate into your rate.

    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveinMN
    It worked out; my wife and I knew this could happen so we socked away a little of my income for the dry spells (that might be another difference from contracting today).
    I will but being realistic, you can't sock away vast amounts of savings working a few months. If my life consists of working a few months a year from now on, I am in trouble
    Well, yeah. This is, however, another area where the company representing you can help. For what jobs are they seeing high demand? What skills do their better-paid contractors bring to the organizations that bring them on? Is there a way you can fill a niche? If there is demand but very few people who can do what you do, it's payday. If not, it's time to consider additional skills. At least, as a contractor, overtime is rare (since you have to be paid for it).

    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    As for advancement:
    1) old old rules: stay with a company for life - get the gold watch and the pension
    2) newer but now also maybe obsolete rules (what my generation was told) - companies have no loyalty to you, have no loyalty to them, just think about improving yourself as a product, jump companies to advance yourself etc.
    3) new rules: if you can actually manage to get a decent paying full time job, thank your lucky stars and hold on to it for dear life. companies still have no loyalty to you, and some day a pink slip or even training your replacement, but everything else is gigs and low paid work as far as the eye can see, ride the gravy train as far as it goes.
    Trying not to get all Tony Robbins and Millennial-mushy on you , at least some of that is a matter of choice. Many years ago I read a book about careers that used a housepainter as an illustration, the point being that the painter would never be able to tell you exactly whose house (s)he would be painting 2-3 years from now but that it was extremely likely (s)he'd still be painting houses. That does not preclude learning new painting techniques or how to work with new materials or learning more about current styles to suggest to customers but that (s)he would continue to gain experience and favorable word-of-mouth (on-line ratings, nowadays) and would continue to build up his/her network.

    It's not that different now. Organizations still rely on word-of-mouth and visible reputation when identifying candidates for new work. The people you work with (contractors and not) enlarge your network and can become a source of introductions or recommendations -- or even other contracting companies if yours isn't coming through for you. I can't tell you the number of opportunities I've had that resulted in interviews and hiring based on people I worked with some time ago who remembered the quality of what I did and how I managed myself in the workplace. Keep up your network -- it's one of the things you have to sell to others.

    And you can use that network to start moving up if you want. If you're looking for a gig at a particular company or line of business or programming language/database/work environment, ply your contacts (and offer to do the same for them). Join a Special Interest Group (SIG) either IRL or on-line. It's a foot in the door or a leg up to the next level -- if you want it to be.

    I know the world is different than it was back then, but I know many people in their 20s and 30s who are using this method (as I did) to build careers that go beyond on-line classifieds and what contracting companies can throw them. That, too, for better or worse, is part of the "your own brand" thing and selling yourself. You're right, the old rules are dead dead dead. But you can learn new ones, right?
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  6. #26
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    The organization offering the contract has to know when you'll no longer be there (more so if you're one of a team). Payroll and Security certainly want a defined end date. Most contracts can handle a somewhat-negotiable start date (just as "permanent" job start dates are negotiable).
    yea probably someone. The contracting agency presented it as a 4 month contract, my boss on a phone screen said "this contract is not the length it is saying in the ads contracting agencies are sending". Me: "what length is it for?" Boss: "around 6 months, the ads are saying it's for a year". Me to contracting agency later: "how long is this for?" contracting agency: "Through Jan-Feb, how long did the boss say it was for?" Me: "6 months" Them: "then that is probably right, they would know best".

    I was hired to work on specific projects but I haven't even started those yet as they are behind schedule. I am doing smaller tasks.

    Besides, you're not taking time to interview willy-nilly. You (most likely) are represented by a company that's handling stuff for you like Social Security deductions and the like. If they want to continue making money off you as a contractor it is in their best interests to find another position for you by the time this contract ends (or they'll know it has a pretty good chance of continuing). So they'll shop you around. They'll be talking to their customers trying to get an idea of what's coming down the pike; they'll be looking for new openings at other companies for which your skills can fill the bill.
    How do I get them to shop me around? Just contact them and say "hi, remember me, keep a lookout for a job for me when this one is over ...". I was tag team recruited by a bunch of people at that staffing agency for this position. As a job hunter I got tons and tons of recruiters mostly very dubious (not outright fake jobs or anything but just very incompetent recruiters) and some legit (I even pursued many of the dubious one's as far as it went which was nowhere just because I had nothing better to do), but this was a legit staffing agency at least, so I took them more seriously when contacted for this.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  7. #27
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    The agency is your employer and depending on state law you might be able to say something along the lines of, "When this assignment ends do you have another one for me or should I file for unemployment compensation?"

    A variation of that worked for me. I was doing temp work and sent the agency a letter that I was taking FMLA leave to have a baby. When I was ready to return to work they weren't coming up with anything until I mentioned filing for UI. Then they found something real quick.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    How do I get them to shop me around? Just contact them and say "hi, remember me, keep a lookout for a job for me when this one is over ...". I was tag team recruited by a bunch of people at that staffing agency for this position.
    When I was contracting, the company that hired my contracting firm had one (sales) rep who essentially was my contact for whatever. She brought our paychecks weekly and touched base with us -- how things were going, if we had heard about future expansions or additional job openings, if we were taking significant time off any time soon, etc.

    You may not have someone coming to your workplace on a regular basis but I'd bet money that the company at which you're working is not dealing with the "tag team" -- they're working with one primary person. You should find that person and just touch base with them every now and then. Email or text is fine. Chat about what you're working on at the moment or how work is going, ask what they're hearing about an actual end date, ask what they're looking at for your next contract (or maybe, since you're new to contracting, what you might be doing "on the bench" if they don't have another placement when this one ends).

    And (I don't think I have to say this but I will) don't take your own foot off the employment-search pedal. It is in your contracting firm's best interest to place you again (and again) and keep making money off you. But if it doesn't look like they will come through with something worthwhile (or if having a wedge of going elsewhere might help you land a better placement or a better rate), then looking outside is worth the effort.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  9. #29
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    I wondered if I was just uniquely confused about length of the contract etc.. Even though I was told 6 months in the interview but promised nothing of course.

    I am not part of a team per se but there is another contractor there in our group who started about when I did (but is with a different contracting firm), I asked him the length of his contract, he didn't know exactly either, several months is all he knew.

    Then in a meeting I found out, although I had heard bits of it before, they are still pushing for funding to keep us on for 2019, this seems decently likely to happen, and the boss most definitely wants it to (but the ultimate say is at a higher level), so yea no wonder stuff is so indeterminate!!! I can try to find out assuming they got the 2019 funding, how long they plan to keep me on in 2019.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  10. #30
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    they are still pushing for funding to keep us on for 2019, this seems decently likely to happen, and the boss most definitely wants it to (but the ultimate say is at a higher level), so yea no wonder stuff is so indeterminate!!!
    I know the commute to this job is heinous but, for your sake, I hope they can keep the contract going.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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