As staffing professionals in the technology industry, we've seen the
focus for many staffing firms shift from placing senior consultants
in contract positions (while occasionally filling the odd full-time
job) to placing them in full-time jobs.
Over the past several years, companies felt that paying
contract consultants a high hourly rate to execute one piece of a
project was a great way to get the job done without committing to the
salary, benefits, and responsibilities that go along with hiring a
But that, as they say, was then. And this is now.
This may change again as the economy and the industry
readjust in the coming months, but for the time being, companies are
looking to fill full-time positions. Period.
Many of you who are reading this are seasoned contract
consultants. You've invested time and money into becoming
incorporated, and you've grown accustomed to the benefits of being a
"hired gun" contractor.
Working on two or three contracts a year has exposed you to
many more types of technologies than you would have worked with as a
full-timer at just one company. And while full-time employees have
grappled with corporate dynamics and politics, you've been able to
walk away from it all when your contract was finished.
However, if you're looking to make the change from a
contractor to a full-time employee, there are several issues you need
to overcome in order to be considered a viable full-time candidate.
When managers look at a long-time contractor's résumé, they
raise some of the following objections, and we've provided some
points you can respond with.
1.I don't want to hire a contractor because when the contract
market opens back up, he or she will be the first one gone.
Managers are under the illusion that they'll be able to keep
people in full-time positions, but full-time employees are just as
likely to leave a job if the work is not challenging. The average
full-time employee in Silicon Valley lasts 18 months in one job.
Convince the manager that if the work is challenging and
interesting, you'll stay. But if it's not, then the average full-time
employee isn't likely to stay either.
Your résumé is important. A lot of three-, four-, or
five-month contracts on a résumé can lead managers to wonder if the
contracts were actually completed, or why they weren't renewed.
Nine-month to one-year contracts look good. They suggest that
your work was valued and that you stayed on as long as was necessary.
It's always good to be able to tell managers that you never left a
contract before it was finished.
2. Contractors are used to coming in and working for a limited
time on just one piece of the project. They don't have a hands-on
understanding of the full life cycle of a project.
On the issue of project life cycles, it could be helpful to
bring up the following points.
As a contractor you may not have been around when the project
was architected and developed or when it was time to fix bugs and
release it, as most people don't hire a contractor until they have a
The experienced contractor is often required to review the
project's beginning stages, from its requirements gathering to issues
of scalability and security, to find the problem he or she was hired
to solve. In that respect you may very well have a strong
understanding of project life cycles.
3. Contractors don't get involved in a company's internal
process and don't usually deal with issues of internal politics. But
I need someone with that experience.
You may not have dealt with the internal politics of a
company, but a savvy contractor knows that he or she will be dealing
and communicating with different people on the project in order to
examine the problems.
Many contractors are typically brought in once the project is
in trouble and internal tensions are high, so the internal staff is
eager to avoid blame for the problem. You could make a case for your
experience in handling internal politics on that level.
4.Contractors are used to making a lot more money than I can pay.
In a full-time position, you won't be earning $125 an hour
(as you may have as a contract consultant). You're more likely to
earn $125K a year plus benefits. A senior position could pay more,
but don't count on it. Make it abundantly clear to the hiring manager
that you're aware of these economic realities and you're okay with
If you're not, feel free to keep holding out until it changes
back to a contractor's world.
Bill Baloglu is a principal at ObjectFocus (www. ObjectFocus
.com), a Java staffing firm in Silicon Valley. Bill has extensive OO
experience and has held software development and senior technical
management positions at several Silicon Valley firms.
Billy Palmieri is a seasoned staffing industry executive and a principal at ObjectFocus.
His prior position was at Renaissance Worldwide, where he held several senior
management positions in the firm's Silicon Valley operations.