Contract Work-No Guarantees

I mentioned the basic outline of contract work, but there’s other things to consider when weighing contract work. There’s no guarantee.

Some ole IT grognards out there probably know more about this, but back in the day contracts were negotiated and outlined. How much time would someone need a consultant? What’s the cost involved? What are the stipulations with bringing someone in-house to help with a project? Hence ‘contract’. Now it’s equivalent to temp work. In the world of temporary (temp) work, contract work is just the prestigious word on the IT side for ‘temp work’. Contract to hire is the same for temp to hire. No offense to our highly skilled office professionals out in the workforce, but IT seems to require a higher skilled, better trained, temp professional. This is why contractor or consultant is needed.

Now that we’ve defined the term contract what does it mean to those in the field. In short, there’s no guarantees.

For staffing firms, like the one I work for, we’re looking for people between jobs. They could use a hand in their job search. Firms can offer short-term work, with good pay, for those that are spinning their wheels trying to find their next corporate seat. I often have people want a different job so bad that they will take a short-term contract position. I often explain that we don’t do that. The IT professional doesn’t understand, and I literally have to spell it out for them.

“Why would you leave a job, any job, that allows you to put food on the table and pays the bills, for something that may be over at the end of the first day?” Because this can happen, and has happened.

Many people then understand and say “I wouldn’t”.

You see, clients will provide us with their intentions up front. They’ll mention that they’ll need someone for about 3 months and may hire them if it’s the right person, but if they don’t like the plate we serve up, they can make us take it back and provide something better. That’s what many firms do. Oh, and there is usually no penalty to the client should they choose to do this.

Yes, it can go the opposite way. The client could love the candidate so much that they won’t want to lose them to a permanent opportunity and decide to hire the person directly sooner than expected. It happens, and there are fees involved, but it’s not the norm.

This is why it’s difficult to accommodate a move from outside the local market. It’s not right to have someone move across the country for something that might be over in the first week. Yes, clients can impose a process making candidates go through a resume review, phone screen and multiple face-to-face interviews, but it’s not until they see the candidate in action that assures their decision was the right one. Even then, budgets can get yanked, and new management can be implemented that will trim the fat and throw temporary help out the window.

Can this happen with a permanent job? Yes it can! However, the odds are much lower and staffing managers don’t have to worry about hurt feelings and disappointments. I ran in to one such person with excellent development skills. I asked how he ended up from California and in America’s Dairyland and it was because he showed up for his first day of work, a permanent job, and they said they eliminated his position.

As in any situation, it’s good to know what is on the table. We in the staffing industry call it, “setting the expectations” and it’s important to know what’s at stake. It’s when you’re ignorant to the process and aren’t accurately informed that you find yourself disappointed and upset should something fall through.