TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
> Many of us prefer the steady income, benefits, relative stability, and long-term working
> relationships (and feuds) that a salaried position can provide.
This comment may explain the differences in reactions to this
topic. With all respect, the "steady income" and "relative
stability" are often an illusion.
For one thing, in today's market, contracting is as steady as a
permanent position, so long as you do a little planning ahead. In
fact, I can earn much more as a contractor than as a salaried
employee, even when paying for my own benefits. For me, the trick
is not to overbook myself. But having a steady income is
definitely not a problem.
Benefits? High-tech is good at providing little perks, but I'm
not a twenty-something, so I'm not especially interested in
having a dedicated Quake server or a "cool" workplace. Concrete
benefits like holidays, medical and dental are generally far
behind the average union contract. And, when stock options are
mentioned, I'm reminded of the old Wobbly song about "You'll get
pie in the sky when you die" (and it's resounding refrain,
"That's a lie!"). By the time you can actually benefit from the
options, what you get won't be enough to compensate for the
unpaid overtime and extra effort you've been coaxed into giving
in the meantime.
As for the relationships, I don't especially look to work for my
friends. Still, when I move on, I keep in touch with the
ex-colleagues I've connected with. I don't need to see them
everyday to keep the relation going. We do things outside of work
Nor does a salaried position provide more stability. I lost one
permanent job because of a corporate takeover, and another
because a major investor pulled out of a company. Most people I
know have had similar experiences at least once in their careers.
So, I'm not convinced that stability is any reason to endure a
difficult situation. It's a useful myth, however, for keeping
people in their place. I wish I could buy into it myself, but
I've seen too much.
Maybe I'm getting some early training in for being a curmudgeon,
but I'm starting to believe that people endure far too much for
the myth of security. Once you realize that your cherished
security doesn't exist, and that losing it isn't the end of
everything, you are far freer to enjoy your working life.
Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189
"Better a good run than a bad stand." -James Keelaghan