Category Archives: Contractual employment

Back in business


I’m faced with a dilemma — I can no longer bitch on my blog about not having a job. And I refuse to start worrying about what will happen at the end of the year when this long-term temp gig is over. I may very well be hired, as it appears this company has plenty of work, but I’ve also heard that it tends to be busy this time of year and that it may slow down soon. It’s OK. If I leave at the end of the year, my unemployment benefits will simply continue.

I’m also not going to obsess about suddenly being too busy. (I’ll mention it; I just won’t obsess about it.) I have a manuscript that I’m proofreading due in October, and another editing job that I accepted just before I was hired for the full-time job.

I have no complaints yet about what I’ve been doing or any of my coworkers. The personalities will reveal themselves gradually. The “difficult” one in the office is sure to rear her head. It’s probably a “she” since the staff is mostly female, at least the editorial staff. Who will I have to watch my back around? Who will I end up going to lunch with? Speaking of lunch, can I bring mine to work and trust that it will still be in the fridge at lunchtime? (I have worked at several companies where people stole others’ food, and a friend of mine once had a boss–I think it was the owner of the company–who stole employees’ lunches.) I am spending $200 a month on my commute now, so I can’t eat out every day. Although — it is possible to eat lunch in NYC for under $5.

I am keeping mainly quiet, taking on assignments, asking appropriate questions and just doing as good a job as I can. I’m friendly but not too talkative yet. In time.

I waited until today before asking if I could possibly change chairs, because the one that came with my cubicle could not be adjusted. I don’t like to lean back in my seat when I work. I need better support, and in this job I’ll be spending a lot of hours in my seat.

As the temp, the new person, I don’t want to make waves, but a chair is such a minor thing to fix (well, usually) and if I didn’t say something about it I would surely be miserable soon. It was no issue at all. There are several empty cubicles on the row parallel to mine and I asked if I could I swap chairs with one of those. I’m feeling more comfortable with the replacement and I was happy I spoke up. I’ll be comfortable in my new surroundings, too, eventually.

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Contractual


I’ve gotten a few calls from recruiting agencies recently about potential jobs, usually medical editing jobs, which are long-term contract positions. The pay is decent, but there are no benefits, which includes no paid days off and no health care coverage. At the moment, I’m OK with this. I can suck up the vacation days (at least for a little while).

And I’m OK, insurance-wise. When I was laid off I had my benefits continued for a short while as part of my severance package, and then I was able to enroll in my husband’s insurance plan at his job. We pay extra for it, but the amount is significantly lower than I’d pay for COBRA. Yes, I am lucky, at least in that regard. At earlier times in my life when I’ve been unemployed, I had no health insurance. I could not afford it and took that risk.

Still, I’m wondering about these long-term contract jobs. One company that’s considering me runs a well-known website, which could be a great opportunity for me. I worked on my last company’s website, and I’m familiar with content management and writing for the web–I just haven’t worked for a company that is primarily web-based. So even for a short period, I’d be getting some significant experience.

According to what I’ve read online, many companies aren’t committing to more full-time permanent employees. “Many of the jobs employers are adding are temporary or contract positions, rather than traditional full-time jobs with benefits. With unemployment remaining near 10%, employers have their pick of workers willing to accept less secure positions,” an article on CNN Money says.

The fact that these jobs are short-term — possibly up to a year — feels both good and bad to me. If they like me I may be hired as a permanent employee. If they don’t like me it won’t be as harsh if I get let go (I’m saying this hypothetically–I really can’t predict how I’d feel if that happened). For me, though, my ideal is finding a good niche–a job I’m good at and enjoy doing, with people who respect me, coworkers who are friendly, a decent salary (is this too good to be true?)–and staying there.

Here are two articles discussing contract jobs a little further: The Upsides and Downsides of a Contracting Job, and Advantages and Disadvantages of Contract Work, which says:

“One of the main advantages of working with contract is money. Contractors normally get paid for hours of work with no benefits or holiday pay, but on most jobs you can make more money than if you were doing the same job working full time. … 

Contract work has also more flexibility … Work by contract allows you to change your jobs regularly, particularly if you are working with short-term contracts. …

On the other hand, working with contract can lead you to a difficult time getting a full time job afterward. Employers tend to think that you would not work with them for a lower salary than in contract work. You might encounter times of unemployment after each project; you could be on the search for a new job constantly. Whatever the case is, consider these implications when accepting a contract work, but also take into account the benefits it brings.”