Dungaree Dan says:
"Everything I ever learned
I learned from my FELLOW PROSPECTORS."
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|Dungaree Dan Answers Your Questions|
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Any suggestions you can provide for these problems would be appreciated! Signed: Buck Melton
You also raise a good point regarding hiring managers, namely that they are often as uninformed regarding corporate hiring policies as the contractors they are attempting to hire. So, you may have to do some discrete and tactful education here.
Ideally, you will already know the names of pass through agencies that service your geographic area. How so, you say? Because you regularly conduct modified informational interviews with hiring authorities, and because you have developed a powerful professional network that keeps you informed in such matters.
Communication is the essential key to your success as a contract employee. You must actively and openly share information with other contractors regarding bill rates, pay rates, contract employment agencies and their fees.
I also recommend you call the HR department of the client where you are planning to interview. Identify yourself as a contractor and ask what agencies are on their approved vendor list. They will know because that is their job. Additionally, ask if they will work with any of the pass through agencies on your list. While you are at it, ask HR what is their policy regarding 1099 and incorporated independent contractors, and whether they require, or simply prefer, a third-party employer of record relationship.
Once you know what agencies the client will work with, you can call the approved agencies to select the one offering the best deal. Of course you will NOT tell the agency where you are interviewing until after you get an offer from the manager. Now, you can assure the manager that there will be no problem bringing you on as a contractor since you already have a relationship with an approved agency.
Bill rates are often built into the budget, and the larger companies at least do not haggle on price. They will pay whatever bill rate has been approved for the position. Frequently, the manager has a requisition in hand which states the approved bill rate on it.
If the client wants you, but does not want to reveal the bill rate, you may have to contact an agency you know to be fair. Talk with the MANAGER of the agency. Negotiate a fee schedule based on the bill rate (whatever that turns out to be) based on you bringing the business to them. When you have agreed upon a fee schedule, tell the manager of the agency the name of the client and the hiring authority. Your agency will then go in and complete the negotiations. Your agency will negotiate as high a rate as possible since it is in their interest to do so. If the rate is too low, you can be assured it is because the client is low-balling and not the agency.
Ultimately, it's your call, and you may decide to pass up a so-so offer because the terms are not satisfactory.
By the way, I once had a hiring manager who was adamant that I go through a particular agency. But I knew the agency took up to 65% of the bill rate, so I was NOT going to go with that agency! I selected another agency, and nothing more was said. (Incidentally, the manager usually will not require you to work for one agency over another, although some clients do own their own captive agency -- an obvious conflict of interest with respect to providing/avoiding employee benefits.)
Several weeks later the manager who hired me took early retirement. I learned that he had gone to work as a project leader for the very agency he had pushed so hard for for me to go with. As you can appreciate, this practice is not restricted to retired military officers who go to work for their major suppliers. It is not unusual for upper management, after signing off on millions of dollars in consulting fees, to take early retirement and then go to work for a large consulting firm they were previously so generous toward. I could name names, but I won't. (01/06/98)
Unfortunately, even when EVERYBODY involved believes the project is solid, there is always SOMETHING that can come out of the blue to threaten your assignment. Of course, this goes to the heart of why companies hire contractors in the first place! (See: Using Contractors: The Benefits And Risks For Client Companies.) A contractor's best defense is a healthy emergency fund and a well developed professional network. (See: Your Mission as a Contract Employee.) (10/19/97)
Anyway, you should have a spot for Contractors who make "Asses" of themselves and give all other Contractors bad names..., such as the contractor who went to a job fair and gave his resume to a Hiring Authority in a company he was working for. Apparently he didn't read the huge NEON sign with the company's name as he was telling the person what a crappy place he worked at and wanted to get out of, ...stories like that.
What do you say? Keep up the good work - I tell any contractor I work with to read this site. Signed: James M.
Since many contract employees are recently downsized or otherwise laid off permanent employees, they simply don't yet have the "street smarts" to avoid being taken for a ride. And, as we all know, they are unlikely to learn the ropes from their friendly local headhunter. I hope to give contract employees the information they need to avoid being taken advantage of, and at the same time give them a head start toward becoming independent contractors by showing them the skills and attitudes that characterize a successful IC.
Certainly, only a small minority of all contract employees have the skills and aptitude to go into business for themselves as independent contractors. And, I don't advocate that they do. But, every contract employee stands to benefit by knowing how to deal effectively with the commissioned headhunters who try to recruit and employ them. By helping contract employees become more aware of their options, and by administering the "Acid Test", I hope to promote ethical behavior and full disclosure by all employment agencies.
Andrew, I spent over two years as an executive recruiter, so I am very aware of the enormous effort and expense associated with placing candidates in jobs. I am also aware that there are many, many highly principled and ethical recruiters in the business. I am not a raving liberal. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I do feel that individuals ought to be responsible and accountable for the consequences of their behavior. But for that to happen, individuals must also be informed so that they know their options. That is the mission of The Contract Employee's Handbook. (8/23/97)
Dear Basket Case:
Once, when I found myself assigned to a particularly disfunctional group, I looked around the client company for another group that could use my talent. Then I just transferred to another project. I didn't even miss a beat.
Remember, you were given the assignment because the client company doesn't have the personnel or the talent in house to do the job as well as you can. You are the outside professional who is above corporate politics and professional infighting. Contracting is not for everyone, but if you can ignore the small stuff, you'll find it's all small stuff. You have only been contracting four months, and with only one client. That's an awfully small sample on which to base a major career decision. Good luck! (8/6/97)
Dear Withheld Recruiter:
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Last Update: 01/06/98