Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Contracting and Optimizing your Time Part 4

Hi All, 

Welcome back to part 4 of the series on contracting and optimising your time. In this part of the series I will talk about a topic that will potentially be the maker or breaker of whether you will be successful in the contracting business. This being, doing a good job when you score a contract. One of the fundamental and important aspects of working in the industry is the personal and professional satisfaction of delivering the solution that is required in a contracting role. Before we delve into an in-depth analysis of this aspect, let's get the obvious statements out of the way.

If you do a great job you will most likely get more contract work or more likely the offer for a fulltime position from the company.


·         The IT industry is all about networking. You do something well for someone, 10 people hear about it. I have lost track of the number of times I have done a prolject for someone, and through "6 degrees of seperation" I later get feedback from another person in the industry saying "oh, I heard you made the XXXXXX website".

·         You are not doing yourself any favours by treating a contract position like a fulltime position.


·         Doing a bad job won't necessarily destroy your reputation, but as mentioned is all about do a good job..people hear about do a bad job....people definitely hear about it.



Now that is out of the way, let's discuss what is expected from you when you are given a contract position/contract project. In my experience in working for a company, at the company, for a contract role, I have had many different environments that I have had to cater for. Some include :

·         You are here for a reason, we pay you big dollars and hence you don't get the benefits of a full time position.

·         You are told not to make friends, talk to or associate with anyone in the workplace.

·         You are placed with other developers etc in full time positions but don't work as many hours. You are however, expected to produce more work than the full time developers.

·         You are on your own. No team members. No help. This usually happens when you are given a contract that has been made available because another person has left the position and hasn't finished the product.


So then how do we give a summary detail of what is expected of you while working in a contracting position? Easy.....the answer is the same for all. Work hard, work real hard. That is why you are paid the big dollars. What do you get for this hard work? Well...


·         You get the realisation that whatever happens, you probably won't be there for long.

·         You might ware yourself out, but for short term contractors, they usually will take extended breaks after every contract to counteract this. (This s usually 4-6 weeks a year).

So yes, I am beating around the bush...I haven't yet described how you do a good job when in a contracting role. So here are a couple, and I will post more in future blogs.


1.    Have a repertoire of tools that you bring in with you on your first day. Depending on the role, I bring in different tools, but as an example if I was going for an developer role, I have a folder on my home computer tailored just for that. It includes :


·         Firefox

·         Google Chrome

·         Ghost Doc

·         nUnit

·         FxCop

·         ReSharper

·         Reflector

·         LinqPad


2.    To add to this I will always install plugins such as FireBug, Web Developer and UserAgent Switcher.


So why do this? If your employer sees this he/she will say to themselves “great, this guy knows what he is doing, he will hit the ground running…this is off to a great start.”


3.    This one is a tricky one, and to be honest, sounds silly, but boy it can go a long way. Make sure you know more about what you are doing than your manager/leader/employer. When it comes down to it, your employer is relying on you to produce the results, but also make judgements on best practices. As long as you know more about say “” than your superior, then you can be confident that you will be held in a good light.

4.    Work really hard for the first 2 weeks. By this I mean, long hours (including unpaid hours in research). Within the first 2 weeks of a contract, it is always the fresh and exciting part. Make use of the fact that for 2 weeks you will not only love what you are doing, but also show to your employer that you progress well and are what you say....a good developer.


Next time I will be talking about interacting with other people in the workplace and what they expect of you. Until next time…


Hope this helps,


-       Tim

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The idea of taking all your software into work is great! Never thought of it, but now realize just how professional it would look.