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The Laid Off IT Guy! To Contract or Not Contract?

If you are like me you are looking for a new full-time opportunity making as much or more money than you were at your last job.  That’d be ideal, right?  However, I get the impression that the talent pool is flooded with great people like you and me for fewer open jobs, so consequently, competition is much higher, so you have to keep your options open.  Already I’ve had 3 offers to do some contract work:  3, 6, 8 months or so in length.  All hourly pay from decent to not worth my time, but none allowing overtime.  Sure, it’d help cover the gap and some income coming in is better than none.

Let’s say you play the odds.  You think the economy turnaround is still going to take a while and that it might take you 6 months to find the next great job anyway, so you take the contract.  But, what if the right opportunity comes along while you are on a contract?  That is frowned on.  No doubt you keep looking while you are contracting, but the challenge of trying to line up the full-time job to match the completion of your contract seems like a daunting task.

Yet, I’d be willing to do that myself, if indeed I thought this was going to be a long rebound.  I’m 6 weeks into my search and I’m still optimistic that it is going to take 3 months or less for me to find a job that I’d really like to do for many years.

It is true that most IT folks feel the need to hop from job to job to get ahead and I’m definitely the exception to that rule.  I’ve only had 3 jobs in 19 years at terms of 2, 5 and the most recent stint was 12 years with the same company.  I liked the stability, yet a lot of people enjoy the change and the challenge of working in different environments for various companies.

At least one other category of job seekers enjoy contracting as their primary vocation.  I’ve got a friend, Nathan, that works for a company that contracts with other companies.  Recently, he was nervous about his contract ending this month, but was happy to learn that it has been extended. When considering contracting I asked him about the plusses and minuses.  A big minus is that a colleague of his reached the end of his contract, he was put “on the bench” for 2 weeks and then released.  Nathan stated that a big plus in working for a contracting company is that you are an employee with benefits.  True contracting on your own you pay your own taxes, insurance, etc.

Let me hear from you.  Whether you’ve accepted a contract job as a stop gap or prefer working in that matter to keep your options open, please share your story with our readers by posting your comments!