The Coding Monkey

Monday, October 10, 2005

Making the Switch

Recently there was an "Ask Slashdot" on Moving from a Permanent Position to Contract Work?

"I'm sure many developers in salaried, permanent positions have been tempted by the self-management, flexibility and higher pay that are the perks of being a contractor, while at the same time looking nervously at the uncertainty and irregular income. So, to all those in the Slashdot crowd who've made the change - what was it like, was it worth it, and what advice can you share?"

I did the whole contract thing... mostly during the "bad time" when I had been laid off my permanent job, and software work in the area was scarce. I did it for less than a year, before I found my current position at a consulting company. From my short "contracting" time, I didn't find the uncertainty to be a big deal. I went and got a individual emergency medical plan, and then forked in the dough. Being the age that I am, an emergency plan was plenty since I really don't go to the doctor anyway.

What I've since found out is that consulting is the real place to be. For me, the allure wasn't necessarily the money, but the ability to switch jobs without actually switching jobs. Looking back on my employment history, I found that I ended up switching permanent jobs about every one or two years anyway. I'd get sick of what I was doing, and would want something new. The problem is that you get knocked to the bottom of the totem poll of benefits every time you make the switch, unless you can wrangle extra benefits into your offer, which is a pain in the butt to do.

The benefit now of my consulting job is that I can switch clients when I get sick of what I'm doing, and I just move to a different client, but my pay and benefits still scale with me. Plus, I get the added benefit of being salaried, and getting paid overtime... and great vacation benefits. It's hard to beat that combination.

What I've never understood, are the consultants or contractors who end up staying a client for many years. Some of the folks at my consulting company have been at the same client for more than 5 years, and some more than 10! When you've been at a client for that long, with no signs of leaving, why wouldn't you make the switch to permanent at that point? I'd think that the benefits of being a permanent employee would outweigh contracting at that point in time, but maybe I'm wrong.

For me... after two years... I really have to start wondering what I'm still doing at a place. What can I say, I get bored easily.


Post a Comment

<< Home