Re: Short duration on jobs (contracting spin-off)

Subject: Re: Short duration on jobs (contracting spin-off)
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 11:36:05 -0700

I'm not sure if this should be part of the job dissatisfaction thread,
the short duration thread, the justify contracting thread, or a new
thread entitled "Stagnant wage-slave is just another stereotype."

Every time the merits of contracting are discussed (whatever the thread
happens to be) several generalizations are made. They often imply
criticism of captive employees (stagnant, less initiative, complacent,
doing boring work, etc.). I'm a semi-captive (5-year contract) employee
by choice and it's not a decision based on insurance or complacency.

Myth #1:
Contractors are more up-to-date on tools and technologies.

I've known contractors who've fallen into niches, such as proposal
writing, who never use anything more than Word. They don't take classes,
because it would come out of their profits. Other contractors recognize
the value of investing in themselves. On the other side, I've known
companies that invest in their employees and promote growth, because they
want to retain excellent staff. The company I work for sends people
(including technical writers) to conferences and seminars, reimburses
tuition, and offers CBT courses. However, the initiative to take
advantage of those benefits needs to come from the individual. Some of us
do, others don't. Initiative is an individual trait, not a group
characteristic. Perhaps contractors have a slight edge on initiative,
because being a contractor requires a certain amount of risk-taking.
However, I know too many exceptions (both sides) to accept the myth above
as a generalization.

Myth #2
Contractors have more control.

Control of what? They have control over jobs they take and hours they
work. Even this, however, is limited by a need to eat and keep a roof
over one's head. Rates are market-driven. The company I used to work for
had specific tasks with defined deliverables for which they hired
contractors. When we brought in contractors who couldn't/wouldn't conform
to our needs (had to control it their way), they were never offered a
second contract. Unless a contractor had done several projects for the
company, he or she had very little control over document design and
content. Granted, my experience with this is limited to knowing what kind
of work was contracted out at only 2 or 3 companies vs. what kind of work
I was given as a captive employee. Contractors had the edge on
environment control (hours, location, companies), but I had the edge for
creative/project control. I think, in choosing, one must be clear about
what kind of control they need to be happy and whether an opportunity
offers that.

Myth #3
Contracting is less boring.

It depends on what you find boring. I love doing the analysis and
planning on documentation projects. If I went from job-to-job filling in
the blanks on projects someone else had defined, I'd be bored to tears. I
enjoy projects where I'm immersed up to my eyebrows. My job really got
interesting after I'd been here a year and understood the business area
well enough to do in-depth task procedures. Although the variety of
short-term work and new projects is often touted as more exciting, I
can't believe I'm the only one who thrives on learning a business area in
depth. Thank goodness we all have different interests/preferences and the
field offers different opportunities!

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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