Episode 10 - That Contractor Life

Episode 10 – That Contractor Life

In this episode we explore different types of contract employment and career implications of taking these kinds of roles.

1:27 – “Sharpening the Tools”

Erin – A bit overloaded with learning business and development processes at her new job, and helping out building a website on the side, Erin has dipped her toes into a data analysis course on Treehouse.

Dave – planning a presentation on Selenium, an automation testing tool for browsers, to coworkers.


3:49 – “Opening the Toolbox”

4:15 – Types of employment: Freelancers / Consultants / Independent contractors, straight contract, contract to hire, and full-time employment

Hire a really good accountant, and factor that cost in.

There’s a lot of things to consider when working for yourself, especially as a 1099 employee and being responsible for withholding your own taxes and paying yourself.

Pros: You can set your own rates, set your own schedule, and have a lot of control over what kind of projects you take on.

Cons: Steady work can be inconsistent if you’re just starting out and depending on the economy and the market.


7:48 – Straight Contract

  • Usually have a set timeline (6 months, 1 year, etc.)
  • Possibility for extension or conversion but not guaranteed and not usually the intent
  • Sometimes the situation is an “open-ended” contract
  • Often a higher hourly rate can be expected, but the employee usually covers their own health benefits and doesn’t typically have PTO or holiday pay
  • There’s often either a real or perceived divide between contractors and full-time employees, in regards to what contractors do or do not have access to or are included in (trainings, employee events, etc.).


14:13 – Contract-to-Hire

  • Intent to convert the contractor to a full time employee with the company (client) after the specified time period has elapsed (usually 3 months to 1 year) or when other requirements are met (certain number of hours worked, a position opens up, etc.)
  • Contract period is often used as a trial period for the employer and/or employee to see if the employee is a good fit and vice versa.
  • Recruiting firms sometimes offer benefits of some sort for the duration of the contract period
  • Contract hourly rates and conversion rates are often “locked-in” when you’re submitted for a position, which typically leaves little to no room for negotiation for salary, time off, etc. upon conversion to FTE


18:37 – Full Time Employment (FTE)

  • Most traditional style of employment (salaried vs. hourly), and typically the most “secure”
  • Paid Time Off, holidays pay, health benefits

23:58 – Should YOU take a contract role?

27:32 – More reasons companies offer contract roles

30:18 – Career Builder jobs forecast report – outlook for 2018 hiring trends

32:03 – How contract roles reflect on your resume


Thanks for listening, see you next time!

Posted by Junior Developer


I enjoyed listening to this real-life explanation of contract work – thanks! But as an oldster, I have to point out that hiring contractors isn’t just a recent trend – it looks like it’s been going on in the IT industry for years. For example, here is an article from 2000 describing Microsoft’s (somewhat controversial) use of contract workers and a lawsuit that resulted:
“The only functional difference between the two classes was that one group did not receive benefits. Although some employees preferred temporary employment, many said they stayed in such jobs for years–in a few cases, for more than a decade–in hopes of winning a permanent job.”

Junior Developer

Thanks for the perspective Gbea! I remember hearing about that Microsoft suit, too. I think open-ended contracts may be more prevalent in tech than the music business I came from, making it seem like a more recent trend to me. But you’re right, it’s definitely nothing new – perhaps it’s a more accepted practice now?

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