Contracting can be awesome, but usually, contracting just sucks
Buzzfeed reports that Google treats contractors like crap. As if that were new — it’s what companies do, especially in the Bay Area.
So, no, this isn’t my usual “Google sucks” rant. Though the above story is especially horrific. You couldn’t contract me to look at beheadings and diaper porn for hours on end every day, Google.
Reading this story reminded me of my own gigs — especially how different companies treated me as a contractor, of which there are two kinds:
You are a star.
Which means, if you’re in the Bay Area, you’re some sort of engineer, project manager, or specialist who refuses to work for someone else or whatever because you’re your own person, your own brand, your own going concern. You can afford your own health insurance. (That was nice.)
You set your own hours. You don’t even work with hours, because you keep weird hours — whatever hours you wish, really — until you deliver on a project, and BOOM, done, what’s next?
You get paid very, very well.
You always have other jobs waiting for you. If you want them.
If you work with a recruiter, your recruiter is always looking for the next gig for you and bends over backwards to make sure you’re happy.
So it’s great to be a star. More often, you are a body.
In the Bay Area, it means you’re anything but an engineer, project manager, or a specialist. You’re filling in while someone’s out. Or a specific project needs to be worked on until it’s done. Or a job needs to be accomplished continuously, but the company you’re contracting with doesn’t deem it valuable enough to hire you full time.
Your hours are carefully monitored. You don’t get a day off because, if you take one, you don’t get paid. You pretty much don’t like Thanksgiving anymore because you don’t get holiday pay.
You may get decent money, but usually it’s not enough to have a life and to pay the big-ass tax bill that awaits at the end of the year.
Generally, you’re a body because opportunities have dried up and you don’t think you have a choice: You have to take this gig.
If you have a recruiter, your recruiter is never looking out for your next gig because she’s making money off your current contract and can make more on another body filling in another opportunity.
The main reason you stick around? Someone who is full time hints — never promises — that being hired on is a definite possibility. A definite possibility. You’d like that insurance and a goddamn vacation.
From 2008 to 2011, I had several contracts as a writer and marketer. I was a star at times, but mostly a body, because that was the state of the economy and I am not a developer.
Believe me: Being a body takes a toll on you. If you’re a body that has to do shitty work like watching beheadings and diaper porn at Google, get out, however you can. Try harder, start over, run away — anything and everything it takes to get out of being a body.
Because fuck it. It’s just not worth it.