Re: Canadians doing offsite US contracts?

Subject: Re: Canadians doing offsite US contracts?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 10:08:27 -0800

Johanna & Charles wrote:
> I am a Canadian (in Ottawa) and am really keen on
> doing a US contract that will allow for offsite work
> with travel to the client site roughly twice a month.
> Am I dreaming here?
> I have been trying for the past year to find this in
> the Bay area and although a lot of firms are fine with
> contractors performing their work offsite and coming
> onsite only for information gathering and meetings, I
> can't seem to find anything despite being a qualified
> tech writer with a portfolio and over 8 years solid
> experience for good clients including Nortel. Locally
> I seem to be able to find contracts easily. But the
> better money and more interesting contracts in the US
> appeal to me, many of which seem to allow for offsite
> work but so far I don't seem to have any luck in
> securing one.
> Can anyone relate to me their experiences in this
> area? Do I need to pack up and move permanently or is
> it possible to find US companies that will allow me to
> telework from here in Canada? Any advice of input from
> contractors (and hiring managers) would be really
> appreciated!

No, you're not dreaming. For the last seven months, I've been doing
exactly what you want to do. And, I might add, having the time of my
life. My reasons are not just money - although it's insanely great,
especially as the Canadian dollar sinks lower and lower - but, more
importantly, the chance to do challenging and exciting work with
some of the leading figures in my field. There are also far worse
things than travelling at company expense, even if I rarely have
time to see more than a little corner of the cities I'm in.

I stumbled into my present position while I was interviewing
somebody for a magazine article (which, to avoid the new potential
conflict of interest, never got finished), so I don't have any great
insight into how to do it again. However, my guess is that being an
experienced writer isn't enough. After all, I'm sure that there's
lots of experienced technical writers in the Bay area. The only
incentives to hire any writer from outside the area are if the
writer has industry experience no one else has (as in my case), or
if the company has been unable to find a writer. You can't control
the second situation very much, except by observing what companies
have been advertising repeatedly. However, maybe you can target your
job search to your strengths more. A company will probably spend
about $1000 for each trip you make to the head office, so it needs
to be very convinced of your value.

Also, if you haven't already, maybe you should plan a two or three
week trip to the Bay area to do a job search blitz. Even with
conference calls and e-mail, some business needs to be done
face-to-face - and hiring is one of them. In my own case, although I
was hired over the phone, and the company was pleased with my work
from the first, neither side was entirely happy with the arrangement
until we'd met.

Finally, you definitely don't have to move permanently. However,
don't be too surprised if, when a company does hire you, that it
extends frequent invitations to move.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions help. If I can be of any help, go
ahead and contact me.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"In inclement weather, the people are fey,
With three thousand year old stories as the night slips away,
Remembering, Fingol feels not far away,
The giant will rise with the moon."
-Stan Roger, "The Giant"

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