Re: Working for a subcontractor

Subject: Re: Working for a subcontractor
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2001 11:40:39 -0700

Lisa Lander wrote:

It might be just a question of personality, but I think that no self-respecting individual should go through some of the stuff I have experienced already during these few months...

Just to show you how views can differ, I have spent about two-thirds of my time as a tech-writer as a contractor and about one-third as a full-time employee. So far as I'm concerned, I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting individual can work full-time. While I've had some bad experiences as a contractor, I feel that I get much more respect than a full-time employee. In fact, the couple of times that I did move from contractor to salary, I noticed a distinct change in attitude to me. In my experience, an outsider coming with advice or skills gets far more respect than someone the company is used to having around.

The situation is -in my experience again - significantly worse if there are already technical writers in the company which hires you.

This may be where the difference lies. Most of the time, I contract with companies that have no writers. Everyone is glad to see a writer arrive.

Also, often the company that hires you somewhere else, doesn't care too much about your development, and it's hard to even take a day off for a one-day course (they won't pay you for that day, either).

Why should they? If you contract, it's up to you to keep your skills current. As a contractor, you generally make more money than a salaried employee anyway. Besides, you can write off the course on your taxes (or you can in Canada).

Also, if you're working as a hired writer and constantly move from one company to another, you really cannot commit to any specific company. I find this extremely disturbing

As you say, this depends on the person. To give you the other persepctive, I find that contracting keeps you more in touch with reality. Lots of people like the illusion of security that a full-time job gives, but they're really no more secure than I am. The difference is that I know I'll be moving on. They don't. I can plan. They can't.

But, as you say, it depends on the person.

Having a long career in one company can be more helpful for your career development that constantly switching jobs...

Counter-point: in my first two years as a contractor, I was exposed to a greater variety of tasks and took far more responsibility than if I had been working full-time at a single company. And, when I've hired, I've found that anyone who has survived a couple of years as a contractor generally has more experience and more initiative.

It sounds like you had a very bad experience as a contractor, and not really a typical one, either. I hope that being on salary appeals to you more.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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Working for a subcontractor: From: Lisa Lander

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