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Contract-to-hire

I recently responded to an ad in a local paper that wanted a contract-to-hire programmer.  I submitted my resume stating that I was seeking full time employment if the company would accept.  The company contacted me and wants an interview, but still says the position is contract-to-hire.  Never having applied for a contract-to-hire position, would someone explain to me how it works and some of the caveats I need to be careful of? 

The position itself is migrating a PickBasic Application to a VB client/server environment.  Seems like a tough job, especially converting/extracting the data from the current PickBasic environment to MS-Access/SQL Server environments without investing in 3rd party products like Pixieware.  I am not a consultant, simply a programmer seeking work, would it be a wise move to accept such a position if offered? Thoughts?

Dave
Monday, January 27, 2003

This is an obvious one-off - they want to convert their Pick database to SQL Server and then junk their investment in Pick. I would guess it is something like a 6-month gig, after which they will have no use for your Pick skills, so they won't want to offer a full-time post.

The upside is that Pick skills are quite rare, so for those 6 months you should be able to charge premium rates (assuming you have those skills). Personally, I would go for it, even if it means complicating your tax situation.

Neil Butterworth
Monday, January 27, 2003

I've done contract to hire before. Basically, it's an alternative companies use instead of the 'probation' period some have used in the past. They contract for your services, you both get to check each other out, if it doesn't look like it'll work out, then it's very easy for either party (you or the company) to back out of it by simply not renewing the contract. From the company's perspective, they don't have to justify anything to anybody as to why they might not want to keep you, which they might have to had they hired you right off and then decided to let you go.

In companies with more formal HR processes, there's normally some sort of defined process of documented counseling, correction, review, etc. they have to show they went through before they can let you go. All this is normally done to protect themselves legally. Obviously, it's way easier to back out of a contract.

Assuming you do good work, they like you, you like them, etc, the downsides for you will include:

1) by the time they're ready to offer you a permanent position, their funding circumstances may change, especially in today's business environment. Solid funding today for a slot can evaporate next quarter or in six months when your contract would likely be up and you'd be going perm.

2) you might not have any benefits while contracting. Whether this is a big deal for you or not depends on your personal situation. They may string you along on a contract, also, because it might work out better for their numbers to expense you than to hire you with benefits. You might be making more gross while contracting than you would perm, so depending on your situation, this could be good or not.

3) you mentioned moving possibly. Hmm. well, there might be some risk here, certainly more than if they were hiring you right off, even if they didn't pay relocation. As I described above, you might or might not actually get converted to permanent down the road, despite the best most honest intentions of the company today--things can change a lot in 3-6 months. If you've moved for this contract, then later things don't work out and they don't bring you on, even if they might want to, you could be stuck there (wherever 'there' is). So, I recommend considering the area in question and trying to assess whether or not you might have some alternatives available to you if the conversion to perm doesn't work out. You don't want to move to a back-woods place that has this one great job, have it not work out, and be stuck in a really dead job market.

Question -- would you be contracting through a 3d party or directly with the company? Sometimes the 3d party agency will have some minimal benefits plans available to you.

Oh, and realize that most likely, your contract rate could be a good bit higher than what you might get hired for, so you may be facing a drop in pay upon conversion. If you've come in through an agency, then what **you** make might be hidden from the client, but may not be (I've seen agencies reveal what their people made out of what we paid the agency for them, though that was never supposed to happen--it was a careless accident on the part of the agency; the point is that info is not under your control like it normally is).

So to sum up, this can be a good deal for both parties, though there's more advantage to the employer than you. Your risks involve asking a commitment from you including a move that may not work out down the road--you have to try to be ready for that and mitigate against the possibility of being left high and dry someplace else in a few months. And, your compensation package will most likely change when converting to perm, so don't commit yourself to a rate of spending based on your contract rate since your perm rate may be different (hey, your actual perm after tax might be higher, but better to be safe than sorry).

Best of luck to you,

anonQAguy
Monday, January 27, 2003

oops. misread your statement about 'move'. Sorry, a relocation probably does not apply in your case. sorry.

anonQAguy
Monday, January 27, 2003

Dave wrote, "Never having applied for a contract-to-hire position, would someone explain to me how it works and some of the caveats I need to be careful of? "

anonQAguy, did a pretty good job describing how a typical contract-to-hire position works. 

Dave, you mentioned the following, "The company contacted me and wants an interview, but still says the position is contract-to-hire."

What type of company are you talking about?  Was it a staffing firm or was it the company that needs someone do the work?

One programmer's opinion
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Dave, do you have a job at the moment or are you just fishing for something better?

I ask because the contract market is pretty bad at the moment. You could find yourself out of work in 6 months. A lot of people I know assume that they'll be out of work for 3-6 months and have large piles of cash set against that contingency. Nice if you can do it.

This, like most contracts is a project. Make sure that the contract states this, as opposed to 'assist client with IT'. The latter will not help your tax status. Also make sure that you don't sign anything which guarantees a fixed deliverable in a fixed time unless you really know what is involved.

If there is a termination clause, make sure it is equitable. If they are able to give 7 days notice, make sure you also can.

If this is through an agency (which I assume is not the case), make sure that the contract-perm situation is covered. Almost all agency contracts have a clause forbidding you to work for the client for a period of time following the end of the contract.

If this is a direct contract, try to do a credit check on the company. Try and keep the invoice frequency as small as possible to minimise risk (1 or 2 weeks if poss). Make sure that the time between invoicing and payment is low (2 weeks at most).

On the technology side, why are they migrating to VB? Is it a stepping stone towards .Net ?

There are lots of mistakes waiting for you to make. I have made most of them. Having said that, being a contractor is brilliant, if like that sort of thing. The only way you'll know is to try it. I've done it on and off for about 15 years (I keep getting sucked back to perm with irresistable offers), the last 2 years being the longest stint. My biggest regret is not having stayed at it longer/done it sooner.

There are lots of sites with loads of info. Try www.contractoruk.co.uk, www.namesfacesplaces.com. You'll need to temper advice about tax with caution, as it depends which country you live in.

Best of luck.

Justin
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Oh, I forgot to mention (especially if you're UK based) make damn certain that the contract you sign is a contract to provide services and not one that is 'akin to employment'. Or the revenoo man will come down hard on you.

Always remember you are in business for yourself, NOT the client, although you don't necessarily need to remind them of this.

**** Work out approximately how much tax is likely to be due at the end of the year (or sales tax/VAT etc) AND KEEP IT UNTOUCHED IN A SEPARATE ACCOUNT. ****

Get an accountant.

Justin
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I've avoid contracts like the plague. Nothing wrong with them, they just don't suit me.

I like having a secure job, a stable family and having my pay go in every month without having to worry about niggling things like tax. I guess if these things aren't so important to you, you can probably rake in a whole load of cash contracting.

There was a contract -> perm role I saw recently which sounded tempting, but I was put off it just because of the possibility I could be out of work after the contract ended.

Better than being unemployed...
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

One programmer's opinion, "What type of company are you talking about?  Was it a staffing firm or was it the company that needs someone do the work?"

They won't say what they do.  I would have to find out at the interview.  It is a company that wants to have a legacy PickBasic system migrated to VB.

Justin wrote, "Dave, do you have a job at the moment or are you just fishing for something better?"

I am currently unemployed and seeking a position.  The position caught my eye, with the possibility of full-time employment.

Thank you all for your advice.  I believe it is best if I simply pass this opportunity up and continue on the long road to a full-time job.

Dave
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

>>Thank you all for your advice.  I believe it is best if I simply pass this opportunity up and continue on the long road to a full-time job.

You're unemployed and you're turning down the chance to get at least 6 months more experience (and some income) with a possible full-time job at the end? Are you nuts?

Even if you hate the job, or if they don't like you, you have 6 months of income & experience. 6 months from now the job market will probably be better (it can;t be much worse) and you'll have a better possibility of getting a good position.

If you don't have other - immediate - opportunities waiting, I think you'd be crazy not to go to the interview and at least find out the specifics of the job...

jeff
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

>> "You're unemployed and you're turning down the chance to get at least 6 months more experience (and some income) with a possible full-time job at the end? Are you nuts?

Even if you hate the job, or if they don't like you, you have 6 months of income & experience. 6 months from now the job market will probably be better (it can;t be much worse) and you'll have a better possibility of getting a good position.

If you don't have other - immediate - opportunities waiting, I think you'd be crazy not to go to the interview and at least find out the specifics of the job..."

Well Jeff, that may be the case (That I am passing up an opportunity)  but I have a couple reasons for passing it up:

1. I am just out of school and only have 4 months of experience under my belt. 

Although I might gain experience through this position :

2. I do not want to take on something that I cannot handle.  (Although you never know until you try, I don't believe this is the time to "try".)

3. The wording in the ad and the way the HR person talked with me seems to suggest that the full-time oppurtunity is a slim to none chance.

I am not in a situation where I "need" a job.  I would love to have a full-time programming position and I would accept this position if I had more knowledge of the PickBasic system and the confidence that I could do the job right.

Dave
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Reality check...


When contract-to-hire has been suggested to me, it's always been companies that are so anally risk-averse that they don't even want the slight probability to exist that they MAY have to pay unemployment if things dont' work out.  That alone speaks volumes. A secondary more malign reason may be that they don't intend to extend perm employment and they just want a steeply discounted contractor for a term.

On rates: contract-to-hire is generally offered with virtually a "moral" obligation on the part of the employee to be that he is "supposed" to take the perm job when offered.  So, the client company, while posturing that the person will be offered employment if "found worthy", isn't obliged to do a damned thing, while the candidate "feels" on the hook. So the contract rate is generally almost exactly the equivalent hourly rate that the person would get as an employee since supposed "stability" is being offered.


I basically see contract to hire as a sign of bad faith. I say to such employers: get off the friggin' pot and HIRE SOMEONE if you need an employee. And assume all the risks therein. Otherwise, hire a contractor for the term and get rid of them as needed, with no BS unenforceable 'promises'. One or the other.


I would  ONLY take such a job if I had no current stable situation in hand. IE, don't leave a real job for what is basically a worse deal than a probationary period.

Curmudgeon
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Dave,
          Go to Albert Kallal's web site http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn/
and you will see two good articles on Pick and converting Pick databases to relational databases.

        If you still decide the job is not up to you, pass on Albert's details to the HR guy; they may decide outsourcing the job to him is an option, or at least using him as an independent consultant analyst.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I have to second Curmugeon's basic take on CTH gigs in today's world. The CTH I did was back in the bubble days and it worked out really well--back then. I think the chances today are that it wouldn't and Curmugeon's qualitative description of things would likely prove true.

anonQAguy
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

YOU are unemployed.  Take the contract gig.  Contract to hire?  Whatever the $@## they want to call it.  You want a contractor, GOOD, say you''re available for $100/hr.  Each day, you will be $1000 richer than you were when you woke up.  End of story. 

The way I look at it, they want to pay you a shitload to be hourly, GREAAAAAT !!  Whatever the #%@# you please!  You want me to wear a clown outfit with that?  Just say the word!

Forget the big picture. 

Bella
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

> I've avoid contracts like the plague. Nothing wrong with them, they just don't suit me.  I like having a secure job,
>Better than being unemployed...
>Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Umm, can someone please clue this guy into reality?  It breaks my heart that people this naive still exist in our society.

Bella
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

> I've avoid contracts like the plague. Nothing wrong with them, they just don't suit me.  I like having a secure job, Better than being unemployed...


"I'd avoid one night stands with supermodels like the plague.  Nothing wrong with them, they just don't suit me.  I like having the same old thing every night.  Better than getting syphilis..."

Bella
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Dave, you display remarkably good judgement in being able to recognise that a rapacious arrangement would not only not help you, especially if you lack the experience to handle it, but could harm your prospects and your equanimity.

Bella, you could make great money as a (male or female) prostitute. Going to do it?

Work towards it
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

>>>>>>>>>>>>Bella, you could make great money as a (male or female) prostitute. Going to do it? <<<<<<<<<<<<<

I doubt it. Prostitutes are supposed to make you feel better!

Bella is right with regard to taking the job though.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Bella is right if the job pays $100/hr. I'm guessing it is $30/hr MAX, but more likely less than $20/hr.  Getting paid might be better than not working, but the guy said he is 4 months out of school; a 6 month temp job doing a PICK BASIC MIGRATION is really starting someone off on the totally wrong career path, unless he's striving for the most soul-crushingly lame career in programming possible.

choppy
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Thanks for the waaaaaay constructive comments, Bella, as you obviously know all about my social life, hobbies and everything else I get up to. Good developers don't just do it for the money, you know.

Better than being unemployed...
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

I don't know what the max amount of dollars they would offer is, but when I submitted my application, I know I was on the low end, as when I submitted it via email, they called me a half-hour later.  I'm sure almost every other "bid" they got was higher than mine.

Mistake or not, I have already told them that I am not interested at the moment.  I could call them back and I'm sure they'd be happy to hear from me, but like I said, I don't believe I have the experience to do a good job and would have really no one to turn to for help if things went wrong.

Has'nt anyone here ever taken on a project they could'nt handle?  What would you do?  Simply hodge-podge it and make it "look" like it works?  Try to find help?  At my last position there seemed to be several of the "hodge-podge" programmers who would build buggy programs that "looked or appeared" to work but when it came to using the thing in a "real" environment it failed miserably.  Lazy programmers out for money... not my style.

Dave
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It would have been a great project to learn from, because the problem with converting Pick databases lies much more with working out the correct relational model than with the actual coding.

So really you were being offered the chance to design a full-blown relational database and learn how to do it at the customers expense.

Don't ever have hangups about learning on the customers time at his expense. He is only too pleased when somebody else comes along and he can take advantage of what that guy has learned on some other customer's time and at some other customer's expense.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

You have 4 months of experience.  In a word, you are USELESS to most employers.  Only a fool would turn down a chance to gain real world work experience, and actually get paid, to boot.  Good luck, you'll need it

Bella
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

A few comments on Bella's interesting endorsement of taking the job no-matter-what:


Regular permanent employment is subject to various laws that essentially force an employer to pay you for every day you worked, at least in the US. And generally, you aren't professionally liable for work you perform as a permanent employee.


Contracting is the opposite on both counts.


Contract employment carries with it two distinct possibilities: 1) non payment by client and 2) professional liability.

1) In other words: the company could stiff you for contract income (unlikely but possible.) With W2 employment, you call the state labor board and they intervene. As a contractor, you basically have to file a lawsuit and perhaps go to court.

2) The company could sue *you* for work you did that winds up damaging their interests, as they see it. Malpractice, in other words.


Neither is highly likely for contract work that an entry level person is likely to be asked to do, but it's possible. As the level of responsibility and seniority required by/for the job increases, both factors increase. FWIW.

On the wisdom of taking the job. Yeah, you can look on it as survival income. Unfortunately, though, this industry tends to "brand" people by whatever they worked on as their first assignment. So if the work is low tech or retrograde, when you go to look for a new job, "questions" will be asked...

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Well Bella, the fact is I have had two interviews for full-time jobs in the past week.  I am not at all "useless" as you put it.  I am in fact a very bright person and given the opportunity to work with people who are good mentors I believe I will excel at programming.

Bored Bystander pretty much summed up my "fears" of accepting the position.  My last position ended with my employer writing me 3 bad paychecks and not even being able to pay me on the last payday I worked there.  I sure would'nt want to not get paid again, and on top of that have to go to court.

So I have had bad experiences in my short time in the industry because of selfish/foolish/ignorant people and of course my lack of knowledge about what the business really is about. 

My current impression is that the software business is about selling software that does'nt work (or does some fickle thing) for outrageous amounts of money.  Then charging people for support calls.  This is what my last position was like.  If this represents the software industry, then I will gladly leave.

Dave
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

To Dave:

You have the right priorities. I'd hire you, if I had a position open, FWIW.

This isn't the best time to be looking for a new job, but hang tough and maintain your standards. Don't think that just because a bunch of anonymous posters on a BBS who've never been stiffed or threatened are making smart@$$ comments to you telling you that you ought to feel desperate and needy, that you should. Screw what everyone else is doing. Do what's right for yourself. Your pocketbook and your own situation should dictate your "need" to take any particular job. Your ethics and your sense of personal responsibility (to yourself and to others) should take care of the rest.

Everyone ought to work and stay useful, but you probably knew that already.

Good luck!

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

>>>>>>>>So if the work is low tech or retrograde, when you go to look for a new job, "questions" will be asked... <<<<<<<<<<

So designing a whole new relational database (because the MV model doesn't map easy to a standard SQL database schema according to Albert my new-found guru) is low tech and retrograde?

Where do you tnink the jobs are?

Sure, if Dave wishes to be a game developer, or do embedded software for chips embedded into bags of popcorn, then the stuff is not appropriate, but for general development work its a great chance.

There are reasons for turning the job down, but the one you give is not one of them.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Also, isn't Bella the guy who burned himself out with a 10 year career doing shitty contract work? I thought I read in some old thread that he doesn't even work in "the industry" anymore. It takes a special kind of loser to flame on software development forums, when one no longer develops software.

choppy
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

>>>>>>>It takes a special kind of loser to flame on software development forums, when one no longer develops software. <<<<<<<

True except how do you know you shouldn't be substituting the word "winner" for "loser".

And Bella's "flames" are clearly intended as good advice, even if you disagree with them.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

To Stephen:

I was being "generic" - saying - don't necessarily take a job for the money, that's all. I agree that the specific task being described sounds very worthwhile if approached in the right way.

Sheesh, people are getting nit picky...

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Sorry if I sounded a little too aggressive.

But there is a tendency among programmers to look down on business apps because they're not involving cutting edge bare-metal coding, and completely underestimate the difficulties in the other aspects of the work, such as the table design, GUI, business logic and whatever.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Contract work:  You want to pay me TWICE as much to do the same job?  That's fine by me.  (THAT was my point.) 
Talk all you want about benefits.  When you pull down $1000+ a day, a few days of workwill take care of ALL your annual benefit costs.  And job stability for FT'ers?  Well, I think that MYTH has clearly been shattered in the past 2 years.

Dave, being bright has nothing to do with getting a job, or being good at one.  It's experience.  There is NO substitute.

Choppy, "shitty" is a subjective term.  I consulted with white shoe firms that people line up out the door to work for.  And for top dollar.  And yes, I left the field.  Why do I still post?  B/c my opinios and advice are relevent to the topics, regardless of my semi-retirement.

Bella
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dave, you might only have a few months' experience but you are very smart.

As you have identified, the contract would need more development experience than you have. While others can't see any problems in you taking it anyway, there would be problems. You would get a bad name, a bad reference and probably get turned off the work for ever. Not a good idea.

Second, handling any type of contract job calls for a few years' business experience to make that, if anything goes wrong, or the employer is dishonest, you can protect yourself.

You will do well.

Work towards it
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Bella wrote, "Dave, being bright has nothing to do with getting a job, or being good at one.  It's experience.  There is NO substitute."

You do have to be smart to be a programmer and of course experience helps, but I believe you misinterpreted my statement.  I was simply responding to you calling me "useless" because I had no experience.  I am smart and capable of programming and I also believe that given the chance and given the time I will develop the necessary experience to make me "marketable".  "Useless" is a rather harsh word as we all had to start somewhere eh?  So once upon a time you may have been considered "useless".  Now, considering the fact that I am getting interviews, I don't believe that I am all that "useless".

Your writing leaves much to be desired Bella.  If you could rid yourself of that "sharp edge" and the "bitterness" that you portray yourself as having and respond/express yourself in a somewhat "kinder" fashion, it would be much appreciated and I believe would command more respect from your peers.

At any rate, I believe I made the right decision and I am not looking back.

Dave
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dave: Good call and good perspective.

Bella:

>> Contract work:  You want to pay me TWICE as much to do the same job?  That's fine by me.  (THAT was my point.)


Uh, get that crack pipe out of your mouth. We're talking about contract-to-hire here and the merits of taking a short term contract as a "probation" for a permanent job that may or may not be offered, not contracting itself as an occupation (which I've been doing for 10 years straight).


My experience has been that *NO* employer - NONE - offering CTH will come anywhere close to the prevailing contract rate for the work, which is generally at least 50% more than the prevailing salary hourly rate. Why? The soon to be employee gets "spoiled" by the high rate - there would be no "conversion". If your experiences differ, more power to you. Employers are counting on cheap, stupid serfs glomming onto chancy 'deals'.


I also agree with Dave about your tone. Some of your posts in this thread are fabulously uninformative and he is right to discount them and think things through for himself.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Well, I may have not properly distinguished contract-to-hire vs. straight contract situations.  I have never been officially hired under CTH, although I have always been asked to come on board FT at all my clients.  (To which I think to myself, gee, they're so kind as to offer me a 50% pay cut!  Uhh, I'll have to sleep on that.)  Bottom line, if you don't like the rate, pass it up. 

Also, if you don't like my tone, that's your problem, not mine.  This is no longer the sheltered liberal arts college campus that you may be accostomed to, where everyone's feelings are respected and written about in the campus paper..  I will say what I want, and how I want.  Please refrain from reading my posts out if my tone does not suit you.  I am not looking for respect here, I am just contributing my thoughts in my way.  Some appreciate it, some don't.  Such is life. 

Bella
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Bella wrote, "Also, if you don't like my tone, that's your problem, not mine.  This is no longer the sheltered liberal arts college campus that you may be accostomed to, where everyone's feelings are respected and written about in the campus paper..  I will say what I want, and how I want.  Please refrain from reading my posts out if my tone does not suit you.  I am not looking for respect here, I am just contributing my thoughts in my way.  Some appreciate it, some don't.  Such is life."

Hmm... I am definitely not a "sheltered" person Bella.  I grew up on a dairy farm that myself and my brothers had to run after my dad passed away when I was 14.  I then served 8 years in the U.S. Air Force.  I attended a technical college that I paid for by working my way through and also with the G.I. Bill.  I did not attend a so-called "sheltered liberal arts college".  I am definetly not "sheltered".  There is not much that I have'nt heard or seen.  I am now trying to either obtain a programming position or keep working to get my Bachelors degree.

I also did not say that I do not like your tone.  In fact, I did'nt mention your tone.  A lot of people have "your tone."  In the military everything is said in a "harsh" tone.  Your tone does'nt bother me in the least.

The paragraph of advice to you was simply stating that getting rid of that roughness would help you express yourself in a manner that does not make you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder or that you are always on the "defensive".

I do appreciate your advice.  In fact, upon reading your first post I almost reconsidered.

I respect your opinions, your "ways" and your decisions just as I hope you respect mine.

Dave
Thursday, January 30, 2003

>> Also, if you don't like my tone, that's your problem, not mine. 

Bet you're a load of fun to hang out with! Introducing Dale Carnegie II... I guess if you want to spew and be disregarded, "such is life" as you say.

>>This is no longer the sheltered liberal arts college campus that you may be accostomed to, where everyone's feelings are respected and written about in the campus paper..  I will say what I want, and how I want. 

Yeah, right. Subject to Joel's ultimate say.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, January 30, 2003

This is all I have meant to say in this thread.

1) Take experience in any way it comes at you.  Esp early in your career.  Forget pay.  Forget sexy languages.  Rather, I suggest you TAKE the job, an keep looking for the ideal situation.  When/if something else turns up, take it!  Sitting home is the worst way to build your career.  I can't speak for the current IT market, but back in the early 90's (which period I have drawn numerous parallels to) sometimes, it could take a year for the right thing to come up.

2) Contracts pay more than FT.  It's nothing to complain about.  You don't know how many bitter FT'ers wanted to be hourly, but never had the marketing skills, tech skills, and financial skills to make the jump. 

Bella
Friday, January 31, 2003

>  In fact, I did'nt mention your tone. 
> The paragraph of advice to you was simply stating that getting rid of that roughness

What exactly is this "roughness" referring to? 

Bella
Friday, January 31, 2003

If you want to be hired full time as a result of a contract, don't look for a contract-to-hire position.  Look for a regular contract position, and impress them so much that they'll want to make you a full time offer of employment.  That's how I was hired to my current position.

T. Norman
Friday, January 31, 2003

Bella wrote, "1) Take experience in any way it comes at you.  Esp early in your career.  Forget pay.  Forget sexy languages.  Rather, I suggest you TAKE the job, an keep looking for the ideal situation."

Well Bella, I agree with you,  but this still does not offset my fear of getting burned (i.e. not getting paid, having a lawsuit, not being able to get the job done on time, not doing the job right, etc.).  These reasons may appear foolish to you because you have the business experience dealing with these kinds of things.  I mean what would happen if I had taken the job and something happened where I could'nt complete the program on time? Would they decide to sue me?  Maybe that's unrealistic, I don't know.  Maybe you can tell me:

1.  How do you protect yourself in a contract deal?
2.  How do you keep from not getting paid?
3.  Are these even things to think about?
4.  What else do I have protect myself from?

Bella wrote, "Sitting home is the worst way to build your career."

I agree 1000000000000000%.

Bella wrote, "What exactly is this "roughness" referring to?"

When you referred to me as "useless" and made comments about my schooling background.  Which I believe you had no right to judge me on.  Especially when you do not know me.  That is the "roughness" I'm refering to.  Not that I can't handle it, but it does make for bumps in the conversation.

I must say a couple of your posts are very convincing to me and if you could help me answer my questions about protecting myself and my interests in contract positions or offer some advice (due to my lack of business expertise) it would be greatly appreciated and would help boost my confidence level in accepting these types of jobs.

Dave
Friday, January 31, 2003

Dave:

First, I really like T. Norman's advice. It's good, if you're ready to take on a contract.

Secondly: To address your concerns:

>> 1.  How do you protect yourself in a contract deal?
>> 2.  How do you keep from not getting paid?

Nolo Press, a popular legal book publisher, sells books of standard forms and contracts. One such book is an independent consultant's and contractor's set of standard contracts. I used their standard software contractor's agreement for my last two projects, with the blessing of my attorney.


The point is, it should generally be OK if you have a written contract in hand before commencing work, that specifies that: you will get paid for every hour you work, you will get paid on a certain predefined schedule, and that you aren't personally liable for malpractice. It's also usually OK with simply a verbal 'contract' in hand also, but a written contract that both parties sign is immensely preferable because it removes any chance of dispute. The Nolo standard contracts cover all of these issues.


>> 3.  Are these even things to think about?

Yes. Honestly, if you're that close to entry level, the liability issue probably is a 1 in 1 billion factor. The more pressing need is to make sure that you know when and under what circumstances you will get paid.


>> 4.  What else do I have protect myself from?
The opinions of guys like B ... nah, I don't want to start a flame war here. ;-)

Bored Bystander
Friday, January 31, 2003

How to defend yourself against getting paid on a contract.

If you're contracted by the hour inisist on being paid fortnigtly (if two weeks and a day is the most time you're prepared to work for free). If you're not paid on the Friday come in on the Monday. Not paid on the Monday by five, walk out and leave them to the end of the week to settle and then put the matter to the small claims court.

Paid by the job. Divide the job up into deliverables. When one has been completed , go off on a well-earned long weekend break and don't start on the next part until you've been paid.

Stephen Jones
Friday, January 31, 2003

As a consultant, you buy liability insurance.  Some clients will REQUIRE you to have it.  (smart form their perspective!)  It'll cost you like $500 a year. 

www.techinsurance.com
(I have a list of others, if you need them)

Bella
Friday, January 31, 2003

Here are other potentially helpful links I had bookmarked

http://www.cpuniverse.com
    http://www.cpuniverse.com/biz/liability.shtml
    http://www.cpuniverse.com/archives/1996/novdec/free.html
    http://www.cpuniverse.com/insurance/resources.shtml

http://www.ftpins.com/computer.html
http://www.swicker.com/computers.htm
http://www.techinsurance.com/

Bella
Friday, January 31, 2003

It is an interesting observation. Why does Bella keep coming here even though :

- he has made boatloads of cash in the golden years
- he has said farewell to the industry as a whole some time ago.

Since this has come up before and passed without comment from him, it will probably remain a mistery.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, February 03, 2003

Kinda like getting business advice from a retired dotcom CEO, ain't it?

Dunno Wair
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

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