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Why contracting’s gaining steam, what mobile technology could mean for games jobs, and hello, East Bay.
See last week’s update here.
I clicked on and listened to this and the question was never answered. Guess I’ve learned my lesson, if I want gossip, I’ll tune into ET or something else.
This didn’t say ANYTHING of value!
Why companies use contractors? They’re cheap and disposable. IBM has perfected the art of getting rid of employees and replacing them with contractors at half the hourly cost.
Yes, quality suffers, but at this point who cares. There is still enough tribal knowledge to muddle through. BUT as that tribal knowledge continues to seep out through the door.. you’ll start seeing more and more corporate IT implosions.
Are contractors the same as employees? NOPE, they won’t be there next year, so what do they care about mainenance and CBO? They get the task done and skip out the door with their check. That was the deal that the CORPORATION made.
Bottom line, life’s gonna get a whole lot worse as the companies try to provide you products and services based on patchwork IT infrastructures. IT standards have made great strides and it will be undone by management. The companies who EMPLOY their IT staff will emerge as the ones who are able to deliver and stand behind high quality products and services at low costs.
Those who pack their data centers off to the likes of IBM (contractor driven) will eventually realize how much that’s really costing them when their competitors are eating their lunch. They’re trapped in scenario with bad ROI and an expensive exit.
I’ve been contracting successfully for five years now, and the key seems to be (1) Relationships – Companies prefer to hire someone they know, and (2) Offering a service that is unique, i.e. cannot be done “offshore” at $10/hour. It’s not for everyone, a some of us like to go to the same office every day and be told what to do, and others are willing to go out and “hunt” for that next assignment.
Comment to Scott – if you were 1099 with a company and working full time for them, you might be able to fight for employment benefits with your state department of labor. I did it and won.
He never answered the *why* question, but rather offered lots of career strategy advice.
I notice all of these contractors around me are foreigners. I wonder what they get paid. A company I worked at prefiously would fake the attempt to hire an American for an empty position so they could then hire an Indian for less money under the false pretence that no Americans were available. I am totally surrounded by Asians. I find it difficult to believe, in these hard times, that no Americans are available for these jobs.
I have been a I.T. contractor before at the quirky, prestigious search engine company. Quirky prestigious search engine company treated us “red badges” as third rate employees. Restricted from areas of campus, restricted use of on site amenities, and a definite cultural seperation. In addition the fact that we were contractors was used to sweep huge layoffs under the rug. I will never be a contractor again. My resume purpose now reads “to obtain a permanent position at a great company with an open atmosphere”. Thanks quirky prestigious search engine company for teaching me how much contracting sucks.
I am a contractor not by choice. I needed to feed my family and it was the only option when the law firm I worked for hit a bad streak. I learned a number of apps and OS’s prior, developed solid people skills and now I am in contract hell. Like others, working today-gone tomorrow. My “FUNemployment” is about to run out and I have passed the half-century mark. I am passed over when it comes to full-time. Yet, I have more to offer than the kids they hire. Generalist? Consultant? Contractor? I’ll settle for employed!
@MattyMatt – don’t poke the beehive.
I have been in IT for many years, a consultant for 25+ years. I’ve seen it all. Bring in the contractors to have an easy separation, avoid taxes, avoid benefits.
Now with offshoring, these contractors are not paying into Social Security, Medicare, Pension Funds, or participating in American insurance plans.
Our knowledge base is sent overseas, we are losing millions of future technology careers. Add insult to injury, major US tech firms have thousands of people in their India and China offices. These jpbs are lost forever. Our garndchildren will be majoring in Walmart Greetsmanship when in college. FOUR MILLION tech and white collar jobs overseas. Bring them back and SSA and Medicare will again be solvent for awhile.
Our Politicians should get after these large corporations and not allow bids on FED contracts unless 95% of employees are taxpayers.
I think what is left out is the legality and the bottom line of contractors. Companies will hire contractors because if they have to let them go, it doesn’t hurt their bottom line and they don’t look like they are lay offing employees. Also, companies might switch to contractors just because of the new health care cost of the new legislation.
I agree with a previous comment – Cat has gone back to posting transcripts of the video–could you please do the same. It’s much faster and more convenient (for some of us) to read than listen. Thanks.
What goes around comes around, what is old is new, be certified … paper tiger…. prove by experience..why haven’t you gotten the cert. throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks, narrow your focus, be a generalist. Enough cliches for you? There are tons more.
Point is, landing a job in this economic environment is a crap shoot at best. The cliches I stated earlier is a summary of “what was implied” during several of the interviews I had (no offers yet). At any rate you can drive yourself mad trying to keep up in IT with what is hot and what is not.
Bottom line is….ARE YOU CHEAP? ARE YOU REALLY CHEAP? Are you young? Meaning will you work cheap? Are you the “purple Squirrel” they are looking for.. that will work cheap.
When a company has a laundry list of 25 apps, languages, os’ etc. wants you to work 24/7 rotating shifts and standby and pays 17 and hour and no benefits something is wrong. Oh and did they mention that they expect you to get cert XYZ (on your dime) by the first review?
A mentor of mine once said that if you are not in management by the time you are 35 while working in IT field…. you had better start looking for a new career path… how right he was.
Words of wisdom from an IT vet that has 15 years experience with 2 MAJOR IT companies.
Contractors are seen as transient. To that, they cannot be relied on as long term resources. There is always the stigma that a contractor could leave at any time and therefore are used more to back-fill for employees and
usually wind up handling maintenance tasks on ‘old’
technology. This can be career suicide over a long period of time…
If contractors are brought in to work on new projects they are usually cut at the end of the project….
I just came off of a contract gig for a hospital chain rolling out Electronic Medical Records/Single Sign-On and discovered, much to my chagrin, that not only was there zero chance of ever being hired on as FT with this system but that there were other contractors there that had been working for many, many months for them on differing contracts. They just kept moving them from contract to contract but never actually hiring them.
Interestingly, they gave us unfettered access to the entire hospital we were working in. Odd level of “trust” for temporary “staff”, no?
I’m more than a decade past 35, and have turned down management positions. For years now, I’ve worked as a contractor—about three years with my current client—and do just fine. I get good pay doing a variety of work (all sw, but different languages, tools, domains) and have never been asked to work odd hours or be on standby. Direct hires don’t seem to have much more job security than contractors anymore. It used to be trading security for higher pay, but now there’s no security to trade. All IT employees are transient. Bottom line: if you want secure work, stay out of IT.
This video never answers the question in the title.
CIO’s hire contractor’s to limit financial risk. If the pipeline of projects dries up, they simply don’t renew the contractor’s contract (no severance pay required, etc.). Also, companies don’t have to pay for benefits like vacation time, sick time, medical insurance, and social security.
Over the past two years, I’ve done some beautiful projects as a contractor, things the in-house staff could never have done. These experiences have left me with two questions.
First, who will maintain the applications I developed? If business needs change, there is no one on the staff who can make the changes or even identify the technology involved. It seems like a risky way to run a business.
Second, why am I bothering? Contract jobs are basically junk jobs – I’m not building anything except an awesome skill set which never seems to pay off.
If the future of IT is contract work, then it’s a good thing I always wanted to try my hand at nursing!
Cat has gone back to posting transcripts of the video–could you please do the same. It’s much faster and more convenient (for some of us) to read than listen.
Just a few weeks ago, Cat was telling me that certifications are the key. Now Mark is telling me that I need to be a generalist. Is there any wonder that we’re confused?
I been contractor for abt a decade n liked it making it to the newer company, newer people. I think I did fairly well and for me sticking to one job with same technology for years is kinda monotonous. Career advancement – yeah, take a pass.
I agree with John and I personally find this somewhat disturbing. The contracting company I am with (whom I will not name as they use Dice) is positioned with with an organizations that ties heavily between the banking industry and the online world. The company we work for is ran very heavily off of contractors, about 80% of their IT. The positions while considered temporary their need is not. I am referring to Access Management positions, Information security, floor support, network administrators and so on, Only people that are not temporary is the department heads and the upper management, even the lower management is contractors. Maybe it is my studies in information security coming out here, but if was a CIO, I don’t think I would be so eager to hand over the keys to the kingdom to outsourced help. This coming from a contractor.
@Bill: I know, I know – it IS confusing. But remember, the notion of more generalist positions becoming available doesn’t mean suddenly certifications aren’t important. I think everyone’s reading tea leaves, trying to figure out what the IT landscape is going to look like as the recovery takes hold and companies go back to hiring. The idea about generalists is something to keep an eye on.
@Laura: I post links to the full stories I draw from right below the video window. If that’s not enough, I can look into getting transcripts done – just let me know what you think.
Bottom line is this. If you have hands-on experience and a broad technical skill set, you will always have more work than you can handle as a consultant.
IT is not a “cushy job” – it requires work, dedication, constant learning, managing clients, managing one’s own skill set and marketing it to new potential clients.
This can be quite enjoyable (and well-paid) if you have the right mindset.
Besides never directly answering the question as to why CIOs like contractors, he never also addresses the fact that there are recruitment firms all over the place pushing the fact that companies should hire contractors [through themselves of course] rather then the expense of a long term employee(s). This has caused [as you can see] tons of recruiters to appear on the scene and scoop up more and more jobs every day. It’s easy and hey the HR people at the company can’t get their job done right anyway, so why not go the easy route? You have to remember, CIOs, like all of us, want to look good to their bosses and be liked, they are usually afraid of people-to-people interactions (like a lot of IT people), they are afraid of risk of ANY type (hiring people is considered a risk). Hiring contractors is cheaper in the long run (I don’t have to train you, if you don’t know what I want you to know at the moment I want it, I just change you out), less risky (you can always cut them, change them, put them on hold at no cost to you the CIO), and you don’t have to do any interviewing, have the recruiter do it and if it doesn’t work out, get rid of the contractor or even the recruiter, I mean hey, they are plentiful and a dime a dozen anyway. Since we all just follow along then recrutitment companies will keep being brought in from overseas (can be offshored either way, government subsidizes though if you are from out of the country) or popping up and more jobs will keep being converted into contract positions.
I have about a decade of experience and have always worked full time in healthcare, where there is a lot of contracting. I have been fortunate to have never been laid off . My longest tenure in one job was 2 and a half years. As non-management staff, my problem with working with contractors is the jaw dropping short cuts they use to get the job done. I have had to maintain and fix inherited code and systems from contractors which had spaghetti code, no documentation, no naming conventions, hard coded real data when a user or system input variable would have been appropriate, non scalable systems, the list goes on and on. No offense intended to all the good contractors reading this but I have become very suspicious of contractors. Do they make their projects overly complicated so they can be hired back to maintain them?
Reasons CIOs like Contractors is not mentioned in the video, so here they are:
1. cheap [compared to FTE] and quick too. Project ends, get rid of the people, no fuss, no mess and man it makes the financials look great.
2. interchangeable [don't know what I want to know now, then change them out, no cost involved]
3. No conflicts as contractors are not really people or employees, if they don’t get along, get rid of them
4. No HR issues, it’s the recruiter’s issue (and there is one every 2 feet these days)
5. CIOs aren’t people person’s, hate to hire people and do all that face-to-face stuff, let the recruiter be responsible instead (we know our HR can’t do it)
6 No politics to worry about, as CIO, I don’t have to worry about my job being at stake politically, if you threaten my position I can just replace you
7. Job Security for CIO, see #5
8. DICE and Monster and the love the contractor environment, their business is built on it.
As a contractor who has seen the results of a company being bought who we were working for where the new management did not use contractors, it can be hard. One day fully employed with a bright future, next out of work. Oh, did I mention, no unemployment either since we were all 1099 with our own companies (of 1 usually)?
I personally think that being a generalist is a mistake. Remember that you are selling against other people when being considered for a position. You need to have something that takes you out of the noise level so you are visible.
Did you shoot yourself in the foot back in Y2K and are are just noticing the blood oozing out of your shoo? Let’s face it- if we could spell werth beens we’d probably be managing an IT team today or at the very least competing for a job like Mark’s. I agree with the individual who seems to have a more optomistic outlook on contracting… something about: working in software or computers means you are transient; whether, or not, the company hires you “Full-time”.
I myself am working on becoming a certified generalist and/or a generalized specialist. Look at how lucrative the Y2K scare was for us. What are all those guys who became IT managers going to do; Manage the cloud themselves? Heck-no; my tea leaves say the future is brITe!
Great jobs are being eliminated and replaced by contractors. Why do companies use recruiters today when they have piles of qualified applicants available? It’s a disservice to state taxpayers to award staffing contracts to consulting firms. Think about it – the firm is being compensated AND they have to pay the consultants. Is it really cheaper? NO!!
It’s becoming trendy to augment staff with contractors and I believe it’s the evolution of Project Management impacting IT. Bring in a team to do a project, get the tasks done, kick the team out, leave the staff for maintenance and support.
As a skilled, educated IT professional why do I want to bounce from company to company and do good projects. Hello – you loose the benefit of me learning your business and helping to build proactive solutions! Wake up HR and company execs, short-term gain is long term loss!
What happened to Cat?? Did you Mid-west prudes scare her off???
@MattyMat: Cat posts her DiceTV programs on Wednesdays. Don’t worry – she has us eating out of her hand. And I am NOT a midwest prude.
Thomas and Guido, you both hit the nail on the head. Like you Guido, I ran through the mill similar to you for 16 years before my first layoff. Next week will be layoff #4 for me. Just another testimony from the day and life of the typical IT contractor…
I’ve been a FT employee for a big pharma for 10+ yrs and was laid off last month, here is my take on the subject:
a) I don’t agree with Mark’s idea of a contractor being a ‘generalist’, simply because employee are always there for any type of work that doesn’t need expertise (whether they like it or not).
b) I did couple of certifications (Supply chain and SAP material Mgmt.) putting loads of money and time while still being an employee. However, in contracting world the contractors are expected to have expertise, adding experience to resume is a challenge. Let me also add, that as an employee I’ve been a generalist doing “all sorts of work” keeping my boss smiling. And in return my boss never gave a chance to work in the areas of my certifications. Now I’m in quandary. Any ideas!!!!
After being in the job market for the past 5 months, I sadly found that offered wages decreased from the last time I took a long term contract, 3 years ago. I got back to the same company at the same rate I was offered before I was let go at my original contract’s end. Forget any raises in wages that happened during my initial stint. We are seeing VERY LOW wages being offered (i.e. $13 per hour) with certifications and prior experience wanted. These rates are set to appeal to recent graduates and foreign workers. Jobs for higher waged IT seem to be specific to more focused skills and networking, dbases. Generalist jobs are proving to be very cheaply paid.
There seems to be a theme here. Nobody gives a S**T any more. The companies don’t offer a career to employees anymore. So why should the employees care about their work or the company they work for? Its just a job. The politicians aren’t going to do anything about it because the big corporations have them in their hip pockets. Isn’t that apparent after “healthcare reform”? We just become slave labor. Enslaved by the credit card debt the banks lured us into with easy credit. Somone is benefiting from all this. The guys who hire the laid off middle class IT folks for 2/3 of what we made before being laid off. There is an answer. Form your own company, hire people at their new low salaries, but make sure they benefit as they help your company grow and become profitable. Pass the profits on to your employees. People work best when they are happy and feel that management trusts them. Give them good benefits, a fair salary and they will pay you back with quality work and productivity. You may not get as rich as the greedy sobs that we work for now, but you’ll still get rich.
eerrrrgg indeed true that contracting is a way for managers to staff IT without committing to benefits or investing in you. It seems you do need certs but possibly a wide variety of certs. I still think alot can be gained just from the old Bachelors in Comp Sci. They mainly want to see what your experience is after that… who knows!! lol
+1,000,000,000 to Lee. Sending the jobs overseas is very short sighted. You’re putting your customers (or their customers) out of work. In the long run, you’ll be out of business.
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