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Thread: doing contract work

  1. #1
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    doing contract work

    I'm doing contract work now. It's expected to last 6 months, could definitely be less as noone knows how long funding will last, not expect to be more, but sure it's a non-zero possibility of it being more. This after 10-11 months of unemployment, it really was the best I could get. Commute is about an hour each way from me, not even remotely near my bf but ....

    The job market is SO tough out there (I mean maybe not at the *very* low end, a fast food place has a hiring sign etc., and that is maybe what they mean when they say "the job market is good", but I do have some professional skills here, and you can't live off those wages - nor can you live off contract work unless it's regular - true dat). I feel there are plenty of very well qualified candidates for nearly every job including sometimes for contract positions, but *especially* for full time work, they are picky! True, true, how I lost my last job didn't help me any. I was fired. I made a mistake. Many, many people don't get fired for making a mistake. I fricken know. But I wasn't at that company long and I was hated by a bully who bullied me the whole time, and they had the pull in the organization I didn't, to get me fired, without warnings, yes of course, that's what is meant by "at will employment". So I have to start again to move on from that, and this is a start.

    But I can't live like this forever. I don't even know how to, although if contracts are regular I suppose it's possible. I don't think I even have it me to be the best and brightest you have to be to get a full time job at least in this line of work. I'm smart enough, I'm not entirely lazy and can sometimes work for things. But I think long and hard about what personal assets I could ever have to get me to a better place and I think "it's not enough .... it's simply not enough, the best I have just isn't going to be". But even the losers get lucky sometimes . And getting a job is part many other things and a decent part pure luck, and I've been lucky in the past, but maybe it's just so much harder now than it ever was then (including in 2011). It sure seems so. It's just so tough out there.

    Money I don't know, first I need to pay off a credit card that I bought some new work clothes with, well I didn't buy clothes almost at all the whole time I was unemployed, and I've never had a closet you can shop in, and yes you gotta look the part (if my last horrible job taught me anything it's how much non-work relevant factors matter in keeping work, although my clothes were not the issue there). Then it's hard to say, it's hard to say whether to even bother saving for retirement for the time being or anything as it's so much easier to just save for the next catastrophe (unemployment). I guess I'll put aside something even if it's quite a small % for retirement, it's the triumph of hope over experience but hope is not to be dismissed. And save all the rest for catastrophe, well really if one lives on nothing for 10-11 months one does have some things they want to buy so I will spend some, but not on credit - other than those work clothes, the future is too unpredictable. It was pure doing without of course because what else if one is unemployed, but a day to day focus on survival, so even things that I needed replaced and stuff I didn't buy then, unless it was about survival. Though, I bought a car while unemployed Well yes, I'm broke, long time unemployed, working contract, but I have a shiny few years old car fully paid for Yea well, an accident (noone hurt) and I needed it. I'm certainly using it now with my long commute.

    I got extremely depressed unemployed, not so much initially but by the end (every fricken study shows this that people tend to get more and more depressed the longer they are involuntarily unemployed). Better to work for now (I mean work is work, it's far from paradise, but compared to long term involuntary unemployment which is almost the worst thing you could ever wish on a person ... it got to the point where there were days I thought: I'd rather have cancer (than the disease of unemployment). And I started fantasizing about going to prison because even the life of a fricken inmate, sitting in a cell, waking up when they wake you, eating when and what they tell you, would probably be more meaningful than another day of sending out resumes ... it just becomes so meaningless.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  2. #2
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    At one networking group I went to an HR person told me she was doing contract work because the only thing potential employers ask about is why you left the last place, and contract was up is a good answer. This was not my experience - people did ask about previous jobs - but I hope it is yours. Certainly lifetime employment is rare these days, and some interviewers will have been fired themselves and understand.

    If you save for retirement in a Roth IRA you can withdraw the funds in case of an emergency without penalty because contributions are made with post-tax dollars. Only the interest cannot be withdrawn. I got that tip from Suze Orman.

    Good luck to you in your assignment. You will get used to the commute. Mine is longer and I did. It is my new normal.

  3. #3
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    Have you applied for government jobs. I don’t know how old you are but age discrimination could be at play. In our state we also provide no cost retraining for unemployed people. It’s very hard financially and emotionally to be in your situation. My husband got laid off because his job was eliminated at 53 from a county job as a engineer with tons of experience. We read about it in the paper before they told him. In the past 6 years he has only had 2 contract jobs. If we were willing to move to Texas he could have been employed. Luckily we didn’t have to.

  4. #4
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    It sounds like you feel very discouraged. Is moving to a different area where there might be more jobs a possibility?

  5. #5
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    Government work seems to be mostly contract these days (I'm not contracting with government at present). They are probably doing that because of pensions (the Fed gov can manage their pensions, they can create money, but states, cities, counties - no). It's actually probably why present company is doing so much contract work as well but shrug.

    But there is no risk of paying a contractor a pension. So administrative functions (I'm I.T. so that's me) have largely though not entirely (there's always a small chance of getting in) moved to contract for local government work. It's funny because the last thing in the world I expect from life is a pension, it's beyond my wildest imaginings as they were gone for my generation and younger. It's nothing I'd ask from a job. I'd be happy with a bit more job security and employer healthcare which contractors work without. Yea there is a level of ridiculousness to local government work now, where people who got in are hoping for their pensions and contractors worry about how they can even keep affording ever increasing ACA premiums entirely out of pocket.

    I got close to a government job, it would have been a 3 year contract but good chance of going full time. But I didn't get it. I interviewed for another government 1 year contract, probably wouldn't turn full time at that one as it was the more typical short term government contract work that exists now.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  6. #6
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    In our state we also provide no cost retraining for unemployed people.
    they provide that, I had no idea what to retrain in, plus they were cagey, they suggested you could ONLY get approved for retraining closely related to work you had previously done, not to get into a new field. And I wondered if that would do me any good. I can't say that I know. I had no idea what retraining in a new or my existing field would actually lead to work. They leave all that on you, although they talk about what doesn't work (aka they say "don't get into medical, everything but nursing requires 2 years experience and you can't just get in. we won't approve that" etc., and hint "don't try to train for something entirely new". Ok so I know what doesn't work according to them but ...

    Sure, I encountered a lot of people that just take the free benefit, and go "hey free education! free stuff!!! stuff that's usually not free, FREE!!! woohoo!". I don't knock the program at all, I don't knock training or help to the unemployed (although the #1 help to the unemployed is money period), but my goal wasn't actually "get all the free stuff you can" but trying to make a life for myself, using free stuff or not, that was less important to me than that it lead somewhere, which honestly was a conversation I tried to have with them several times. But they aren't really in the career guidance business just the handing out benefits business. And I was lost. And well all the guidance in the world maybe only does so much good if there just aren't decent jobs in almost anything, which might be so, that all the work that pays enough to live off of is fiercely competitive.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  7. #7
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    I hope the new job goes okay. Because it's a contract position, does that mean you'll still have to be on the lookout for permanent jobs? Or do you have to be on best behavior hoping the contract will be extended?

    I've nearly always worked for the government (public or university libraries) and have little knowledge of what careers are like on the outside. Being fired for a mistake would not happen in the places I worked.

    It sounds like you and your boyfriend aren't able to see much of each other due to your job situations. I'm so sorry about that.

    Any plans for that long commute? I don't like driving and that would be really hard for me. Some people like the time to transition - difficult to imagine.

  8. #8
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    ApatheticNoMore--I was laid off in 2010. Spent the next two and a half years as my father's primary caregiver, as he broke his hip two weeks after I was laid off. Then tried to get a job. Ha!

    I temped, I was a contractor. I took a part-time retail job and freelanced. I finally got hired at a company where I temped for three years (long-term, 6-12 month temp assignments) before they hired me full-time, permanently.

    In my case, I think it was partly my age (I'm over 50) and partly the nearly three-year gap in my employment.

    As you say, there are help wanted signs all over the place around here--Macy's, McDonalds, Walmart. Walmart is offering guaranteed 40 hours a week at $10/hour with benefits, which . . . isn't bad? But it isn't great. $400 a week after taxes--you would spend more than half of that on the rent of a one-bedroom apartment in a not-so-great area, at least around here. "Full-time" at Macy's is 28 hours a week, starting at $11/hour, with benefits after you've worked a year. With a constantly changing schedule that includes evenings and weekends, so that it is next to impossible to have another job to earn something close to a living wage. Oh, you have the opportunity to pick up extra hours, but the reality is that scheduling has been cut so much that unless someone gets sick and calls out, there are no extra hours to pick up.

    There are lots of minimum or close to minimum wage jobs going begging. But getting a professional job? There is a ton of temp and contract work, with very few permanent hires. A friend of mine took a "temp to perm" job and after 6 months he was let go. He learned from others at that company that he was the 6th person to "temp to perm" there and "not work out." Clearly, that company is luring good people in with the hope of a permanent job, and letting them go when it is convenient, so they don't have the expense of another permanent employee. If the manager is telling the permanent employees not to tell the new "temp to perm" how many others have had that job, you know something is up.

    I'm kinda, sorta, looking for a better job. Indeed and Glassdoor keep sending me lovely jobs, halfway across the country. Very few companies seem to be hiring permanent, upper-level professional employees right now, at least not around here. My company still has a ton of temps working for months, even years, without the offer of a permanent job.

  9. #9
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    I was laid off from my 25+ year humble when the boss closed the business. He offered me two-part time jobs at two other businesses he iwned, but I only took one. After three years of semiretirement, I began seeking full time emoloyment. It just wasn't out there - in there months I had one phone call, and one real interview.

    Then, I applied for a part time temp position, and got it right away. It has been over a year, and my two full time days have become three, and it's permanent...I still work two five hour days for boss #1.

    I have no benefits and don't need a full time salary, so it's worked out for me.

    Maybe something to consider? Piecing together part time work into a full week can often pay more upfront since they don't have to pay all the benefits of full timers. Also, someone else covers my work on my off days during a regular week, so I don't feel the guilt or obligation to perform even when on vacation.

  10. #10
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    I hope the new job goes okay. Because it's a contract position, does that mean you'll still have to be on the lookout for permanent jobs? Or do you have to be on best behavior hoping the contract will be extended?
    look out for permanent jobs really, because the contract being extended is entirely out of my control. I mean sure it's better to do well than badly in terms of getting kept on were an extension to happen etc., I mean obviously. But the extension itself is ENTIRELY about funding etc.it seems. Not in my control and not that likely.

    I've nearly always worked for the government (public or university libraries) and have little knowledge of what careers are like on the outside. Being fired for a mistake would not happen in the places I worked.
    I'm sure that perception also exists out there, that people don't get fired lightly, and it just adds more bias in the job market against people who have when you have to be asked the question why you left your last job. But you can of course, it's at will employment. Bureaucratic organizations won't do it that way of course, but some of the small flaky places ... they'll be flaky.

    It sounds like you and your boyfriend aren't able to see much of each other due to your job situations. I'm so sorry about that.
    he's now interviewing for a 1 year contract position on the even more other side of town, different hours etc. (my hours are kind of flexible, but what I'm doing now is the closest to standard hours without even worse commuting). He has a full time job now. Yea I wouldn't lightly leave a full time job for contract, but he has his reasons to interview and since they are pretty complex, I can't evaluate, ok I might not do it, but they are actually good reasons.

    Any plans for that long commute? I don't like driving and that would be really hard for me. Some people like the time to transition - difficult to imagine.
    I take it mostly in silence, except when I'm stuck in traffic, then I check traffic reports on the radio I don't like it but it's not as bad as I thought. I admit it leaves me tired. At least they gave me flexible hours (8 hour day but times are flexible).
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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