Choosing a Contract
The main Factors when Choosing a Contract is by Paranoid Pete.
Relevant Main Factors
Assuming that we someday get out of this recession one day and that contracts become plentiful again, some of this may be relevant.
When choosing a contract, most freelancers would decide on the basis of career suitability (will this improve my CV?), location, money and contract length.
The order of these four main factors would vary but you would be very lucky to find all of these matching up to a good rating.
Point by Point
Taking them point by point, from a developer’s point of view, it’s now difficult to get a new assignment where you could pick up a worthwhile skill on the job.
Added to that, what is a hot skill now may well be lukewarm by the time the six months are up.
Location is obviously important when choosing a contract. You don’t have to work away during the week. I find anything more than an hour’s commute to be tedious on a long time frame but that’s just maybe me.
Strangely enough, I’ve worked a couple of times in offices only ten minutes from home and I thought it felt odd.
Again it’s just me but maybe you need to ‘decompress’ on the journey home.
The financial side apart from helping the bank balance can be a powerful motivating or de-motivating tool.
The odd time that I’ve got a rate that was a fair bit higher than usual made me put in an extra 10 per cent.
The opposite applies as well.
Anybody on the end of an impromptu pay cut would agree to that.
In these days, a long contract is good.
However, companies get rid of contractors with a week’s/month’s/zero notice all the time now so it’s not so tempting.
Plus a six month stretch can seem like forever when starting somewhere you don’t like.
Other Minor Factors
Other factors come into play but only on a minor scale.
Everyone likes to work in nice shiny offices.
However, I don’t if they are in technology parks beside a motorway exit.
I prefer to work in a town or city centre where there are plenty of facilities for lunchtime / after work.
Somewhere you can get to by public transport is good if there’s an evening out or your car’s being serviced.
In my experience the technology park offices don’t have much of a social side and as a result, company morale is often lower than it should be.
Sports facilities are good even if it’s just a couple of showers so that you can cycle to work or go running at lunchtime.
I’ve even worked in a couple of places where there was a bar in the office building.
This turned out to be a disadvantage because employees would gather there each evening and bitch about whoever was absent.
I decided to attend but after a week or two of putting on weight and looking more florid by the day, I decided to give it up.
Sometimes you just can’t win!
A good place to work is important.
Another factor that seems trivial, when choosing a contract, is the level of air conditioning in the offices.
I once went for an interview on a bright spring’s day in March in central London.
As soon as I entered the office a wall of heat hit me.
If it was like this in March what would it have been like in August?
I knew I couldn’t work there.
These are just some points to take into account if and when the market recovers.
I knew one contractor who took one post because he said “there was a lot of tottie about the place”.
Right now, my contract ends in 2 weeks and there are no contracts available to apply for, never mind being recruited to.
We’re far away from a good jobs market but past experiences have shown that it can recover fairly quickly.