Well based on some initial feedback from some pals and a very encouraging comment by JesterXL, I thought I might go ahead and continue on with the whole contractor/consultant posting thing. Adding a few things that I had held back on or came up with in the shower this morning (where I do my best thinking). So this will be broken up into some categories with no order of importance. Check back because I will keep adding to it. Also if you have some I may have missed, please let me know.
The best defense is a good offense and a good play book. ERs are salesfolk by nature and have a whole play book to go on when it comes to making offers and compromises. If you have ever bought a car, signed up for a gym membership, or sat through an Avon sales pitch, then you have seen em in action. Take the car salesman: “Justin, what is it gonna take to get you to purchase a car from us today?”. Even the straight-shooters use this tactic. The ill-prepared consumer will probably start off with “well…um..you..know…I…just don’t know….Honey? ..what do you think?….”. In the same way the car salesman can corner a consumer with this question, an ER can do it too. But in all honesty, its a fair question. No bs, straight for the jugular. Anyhow, to help ease the pain, I have compiled a list of some ER statements and then what I thought was the appropriate response if applicable.
- “If you play the numbers game too long, you will lose in the long run.” – I just heard this yesterday. There is some truth to it. Just like gambling or the stock market, the house wins in the long run. This is generally brought up in a conversation when you say something to the effect of “if I can’t get the rates I am looking for, then I will look else where”. It could also be a response to your lack of interest in going perm with a client/employer. Again they have a req to fill and will try to get you in there. There is no great response to this as it is truthful but you are probably smart enough to know when to cash in your chips and look for the permanent gig.
- “I have been doing this a long time and…..” – Another cliche statement. Generally followed by any combination of any of the other statements presented here. The fault in their logic is that with the ever growing capabilities of the internet savvy public, the evolving nature of the national AND global economies, and the nature of technology as a whole, things are changing and so with it goes the means to make money based on what you know. There really isn’t anything to say to this by itself. The only thing I could think of, and this is generally something I would say to somebody when they are rattling on about some shit I care nothing for…”Well that’s cool man” kinda in that Tommy Chong way.
- “People recognize when contractors are jumping around chasing the money.” – No shit! I did not know this. Has it ever dawned on the ER that sometimes the contract was only for the time allotted? What about prototypes projects, do they extend indefinitely? Who is to say I am not chasing some of those missed opportunity costs? The other fault in their logic is that people are no longer ‘lifers’ at a company. Even the full-time types have something like 3-5 career changes in a lifetime. So I’d expect even more mobility in a contractor or consultant. Best response – “This is generally the nature of contracting especially in the web/IT biz”.
- “Would you consider going perm after the contract ended (or after a certain time frame)?” – This is the equivalent of the car salesman asking you, “So you like the EX270?, wanna buy it?” before you have test driven the car. Generally the whole temp-perm is thing is like a probationary period. Even most full-time jobs in most industries have some sort of clause in there papers. Its called at-will-employment which I think all states have. But we have strayed from the main point. This question is a fair question, but it is asked at the wrong time. This question should be asked of you after you have worked some time on the contract. Best response – “I would consider it, but I cannot answer with any percentage of certainty or guarantee”. You could also add “…but in making a decision I would be sure to give you sufficient notice” just to be a nice guy.
- “We’d like to push for more (most likely $) but we don’t want to bother if you are shopping around.” – This comes up generally when you are looking at extending a contract but aren’t sure if you will stick around. Another valid point. Why bother sticking their neck out for you to get, say a pay increase, if you are looking around. I will tell you why. Because it is the nature of the business and it goes back to being a mutually-profitable-relationship. Basically they want to be able to save face. Images are important and having client-agency talks about the kind of dough to shell out for you is a touchy subject. But again, that is why they are in this business. Best resposne – “If I were to get a suitable increase in (whatever) then I would stay around for the length of the extension”. But then you gotta make sure to honor your obligations too.
- “What kind of salary equivalent would you consider?” – This is really only asked if you are one to consider temp-perm opps or a perm opp. The hard thing to swallow on both ends is that generally salaried positions pay quite a bit less. Why, well because the company is generally paying for govt. crap for taxes and social(ist)-security. Also they might be offering health care, 401K, options, etc. Those are all well and good but do some math real quick. Generally you will have a rep agency right? Ok so then most likely you are working as W2 where they are handling your taxes and SS or as a 1099 you will be. So that doesn’t count. As a contractor you might be able to get your own health care or possibly sign onto your spouse’s. But let’s say you pay out of pocket for it. Let’s give an outrageous figure like COBRA stuff – $500 out-of-pocket for some decent health care. You can invest only up to certain caps on 401K’s (correct me if I am wrong) and that will be applicable to your employer’s matching. Besides a rep agency might have that for too. But let’s say you get some wild number like $10K/yr w/ employer matching on the 401K. So let’s see 500 * 12 = 6000 + 10000 = $16000/yr you have to pay out-of-pocket to match up with some of their offerings. Let’s do some more math now. Say you have been offered $80K/yr for a full-time gig. And let’s say you can get at least $70/hr to do the same shit for 2 consecutive contract terms. The contracting is gonna be about $140K/yr. So now start subtracting what you pay out of pocket. You are still making $124K/yr doing the contract. So how do they explain the $40K gap? Stability? Oh please… They’d be the first to tell you there are no guarantees in life if you were to ask about the likelihood of stability as an employee there. Best response – “I’d be looking for something comparable to my hourly rates.” or better yet for the term-perm folks, “I wouldn’t be able to answer that until I decided that I would be interested in a permanent opportunity.”