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Contracting - how do you feel about it?

By silvergreen ·
I live in a high tech city. I think most job offers are contract-to-perm, then contract jobs are second, then full time positions are last. This comes from 8 years of living here. I would say that contract jobs last in the range of 3 to 9 months, generally. One clear advantage is the experience and pay, however, unless one is qualified to remain in this nitch, one does not have the security a full-time job has.

My take is that, with contract jobs, you retain your independence, however it can get lonely. Contract-To-Hire as a balance of the two.

But My question is, what do you all prefer and why. Thanks!

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FTE - not contract

by j.lupo In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

Ok, I have done all of these. The trend in our outsourcing global economy is to try before you buy. However, I prefer the FTE route. First, contractors have find a way to keep themselves up to speed on IT, programming, whatever area they want to work into. They are usually brought in for specific staff augmentation projects and then let go after that is completed. In addition, at least in my experience, very rarely are contractors used on the "interesting and new" technology work. We usually get a lot of legacy work. So our skills can atrophe pretty quickly.

As an FTE, we can grow with the company, learn a particular business and really find our own niche in that industry. We learn what our competitors are doing and can really make a difference.

As a consultant, we get probably the best and worst of both contracting and FTE. There is a subtle difference between consultants and contractors. Usually consultants are not staff augmentation, they are senior people who help get the project done on time and in budge. They know how to work at all levels of an organization, with vendors, etc. Consultants get a lot of money but have already earned their knowledge and know how to market themselves effectively.

At least this is my opinion. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, so....

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I live in St Louis

by zlitocook In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

And I have been a contractor for five years or so. I have been a self contractor; I found contract jobs on my own. They pay great ($45 to $150 an hour) but you do not get benefits, you should be bonded and there is no one to fall back on. Working for a contracting company cuts deep in to the pay and there is no benefits unless you want to pay a hefty sum out of your pay check.
On the plus side it gives you great experience and you get to meet allot of good/bad people. This gives you a nose for how to deal with people and how to tell what a company wants from its IT people.
I found that if you do not specialize in one thing I can get more job offers. But specialization can pat too if you find the right field.
Yes a company can save money if they go over sea's but they loose the chance to get people who already know how our business?s work, know how we think, know how we work and we speak good English/ sort of :) And with on site IT people the users do not have to wait for along time just to talk to a real person.
Dell has learned a hard lessen because of over sea's out sourcing. They have opened a help desk here and are hiring a ton of people.
I have always kept up with new technology and I keep my resume as a generalist because most companies want some one who can do many things and will not balk at learning something else.

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particularly interesting

by silvergreen In reply to I live in St Louis

zlito, could I ask you... I have only self contracted once and my billing cycle was weekly or bi-weekly (don't remember exactly). I didn't want to put in too much effort and risk the possibility of not getting paid rightfully, or maybe I was too paranoid. What size companies do you contract out to? Also, how often do you bill your clients?

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I am full time

by zlitocook In reply to particularly interesting

Now, but I had contracted to two small business and one large. One of the small ones only had three full time people and four part time; I billed them once a month. Buy I had a contract made by a lawyer so it was binding. The other small company had fifty people and two were power users so I could call one of them and walk them through allot of things. The first company I charged $45 the second $60.
The large company had three locations and was seasonal so at times they had over 150 people and other time 60 or so. I charged them a sliding scale depending on what I had to do and how long.
The larger companies I billed weekly.

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It really depends

by Jaqui In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

on what you want out of your career.

The two pros for contracting are fairly obvious, you are your own boss, and you are frequently covering new ground.
[ walking into a new office, having to work with new people / procedures, even occasionally working with cutting edge technology ]

the cons are fairly obvious as well, the biggest being no income security.

If having that regular paycheque is important, then don't do contract work.

If you would rather have the challenge of constant change, then go for contracting.
mixing the two is very hard, since scheduling conflicts can all to easily arise.
It is possible to work part time, or even full time and do contract work as well. Easier for full time if you can have an odd schedule, like 4 10 hour days.

I do both regular and contract, for contract work I often vary the rate for the company, a smaller company that doesn't have the same resources I quote lower rates to.

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FTE - Not a fan

by slaatyrs In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

I am not a fan of contracting. I contract only to fill in until I get a permanent position. If you want stability, well...relative stability in today's economy, go for FTE. As a contractor, you are not considered a "member of the family" so to speak, your opinions are not as valued as a FTE, and the project you are contracted to work on could end at any given time. You are generally relegatied to the 'legacy" system conversions or grunt work. The FTE's are given the opportunity to learn/work on new technology. This is understandable since they are the ones that will be around a lot longer than you. Also, as a contractor, it is not easy to move into a different position or higher paying position because you are contrated to work at a certain level, even if you do have the same or better qualifications than the employee.
But, contracting does sometimes has its positives, I am sure someone else has a list of them to share. Just my opinion...

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So far so good.

by onbliss In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

I am an employee (a.k.a Staff Consultant) of a consulting company, who is sent out for contracting positions. I get the usual benefits - health and dental, vacations, holidays and even get paid on the Bench. My company and I survived the bubble-burst.

So with that element of security in place, I like the various contracts that my company sends me out to. With some degree of experience and loyalty :-), I even have the privilege to refuse contracts which I do not like.

The company has a very small annual allowance, that can be used for buying books and training. Most of the training costs are well above this allowance, but I am happy to buy books and learn.

Also, I have been placed in projects where I was able to learn new technologies. The contracts vary from few weeks to few years. Sometimes we get repeat orders too.

I like to work on different projects and so far this arrangement has kept me financially and non-financially content.

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One more thing...

by onbliss In reply to So far so good.

Though I was able to movie into newer technologies, (thanks to clients), it was not easy though.

It is harder to get/switch into roles with more responsibilities than just programming. For instance being a Team Lead or an Architect. Usually the clients already have a FTE in those kind of roles. Ofcourse I was able to fill an Architect role once. But that was when there was a Blue Moon in the sky :-)

So if one wants to pursue roles that have responsibilities in addition to programming, it can get little tough.

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Ten years of contracting later

by Tig2 In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

I can't say that I particularly like it. When my last contract ended, I decided to start looking for an FTE slot. My primary reason is benefits. Most contract firms don't offer them at all or they are way too expensive.

My next choice will be contract to hire. That also has a downside- there is no obligation to hire you, just a possibility.

Whatever you do, consider what your basic job functions are. There are things that cannot be effectively outsourced- those job areas should be your focus.

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FTE

by Too Old For IT In reply to Contracting - how do you ...

And especially stay away from the contract firms, consulting companies and "staff aug" body shops. And I say that having mostly contracted, through no special desire on my part, since 2001.

You have to remember that Contract Nation is that symbiotic though psychopathic relationship between knowledge workers who think they can earn more while working less and companies who are convinced that world class quality and absolute best practices can be accomplished by a disposable workforce. Neither is ever entirely true. And only through the potential and practice of long-term employment does either party truly succeed.

I am a conscript, rather than a volunteer, in Contract Nation, and look forward to retiring from same to a permanent position soon. Preferably with a company that can write and place a help-wanted ad, read a r?sum?, conduct an interview, and make an offer.

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