Re: FWD: Contracting where you used to work

Subject: Re: FWD: Contracting where you used to work
From: Emily Berk <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 23:51:13 -0700

On Thu, 27 Sep 2001 05:47:29 -0600 (MDT), Anon wrote:
>...I've been working for my current employers for nearly six months on a
>temporary contract ...they were to make me permanent.
>... [T]hey have refused to make me permanent, instead extending my temporary contract for another three months.
>... True, I can leave on one week's notice and put them in a terrible fix - but that would be unprofessional and would lose any chance they'd give me a good reference. ... Effectively, I'm stuck. ...

Hey, Anon:

I have felt your pain MANY times in the last few years. (NOT just this year!)

It has been my experience as a contractor that my clients very often fail to recognize that, in addition to my being an incredibly smart, reliable, useful, talented, incisive member of their team, I also am a human being with financial obligations and human needs as well.

The bad news is, in many of the cases where my clients have regularly failed to treat me with respect DURING my contract period, they have also proven to fail to pay that all-important last invoice AFTER the contract period is up.

After all, to them, a promise is just a idle words and a contract is just a promise written down. Luckily, I have had the NWU to back me up and I've always EVENTUALLY been paid.

The good news is, contrary to what you believe, YOU ARE EMPHATICALLY NOT STUCK. You are a contractor. You set your own hours, don't you?

My suggestion is that you allocate at least three hours of prime workday time, unbilled to your current client, looking for other projects every week. (Obviously, you will need to do this from outside your office, using a non-client's computer and your personal email account.)

When you find another project that seems appealing, and after you've been offered that project, (this will happen eventually) you then have the following options:

1. You can terminate your relationship with your current client entirely and start your new project;
2. You can scale back your hours with your current client and start the new project;
3. You can use the new project as a bargaining chip with your current client.

Do NOT (ever) plan to use your current client as a reference, at least for this first job after this client.

In my experience, if you have experience and can show some published clips, and if you can talk knowledgeably about whatever you claim to know in your resume, whether or not your current client will say nice things about you to prospective other clients is not important. In my experience, references are
checked AFTER the job is offered.

Usually, in fact, if I am still working somewhere and go on an interview, I ask them to NOT call my current client. And, in fact, I sometimes even fail to mention the name of my current client. This is certainly not unusual for a job-seeker.

Take a friend or three out for a beer and tell them what you need them to say. They will be your references.

AFTER you've given notice at your current client, a few of your current co-workers may let you know they've appreciated your work. Ask these people to keep in touch. Ask them if they will serve as references in the future.

In any case, my advice is: Do the best work you can for your current client while you look for alternatives. Just having an alternative always makes me feel better, even if I choose not to take it. In fact, I am always most comfortable when I am contracting, having at least two simultaneous part-time clients rather than one full-time one.

It's true that the economy is not what it was. But, there are other jobs out there. Your current client wants you to stay because you have skills they need. Others might need your skills too. You need to start reaching out now to find out who they are. (And, did you say 3 more months? So, if you do nothing now, you'll be looking for work over Christmas? Look NOW, anon. Start looking NOW.)

Anyway, buck up. (Hmmm. Did Andrew Plato say that already? Guess he did. I agree with that part.) Look down. No shackles on you unless you put them there yourself. Start walking.


~ Emily Berk ~
On the web at *** Armadillo Associates, Inc. ~
~ Project management, developer relations and ~
extremely-technical technical documentation that developers find useful.~


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