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Kothos

Anyone ever looked at contracting in the IT industry? The pay rates seem to be massive!

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I've had people recommend it to me over the years but I never looked into it - I prefer stability.  But now my life is a bit hippy and carefree, I'm browsing and ... and I looking at the right thing?  Pay rates upwards of $800 and $1000+ per day?  Seriously??

What's the catch?

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They're generally for fairly high up things like Solutions Architects, Project Managers and specialists on short term projects.  Sometimes even stuff like Cobol programming or being able to deal with legacy systems.
It comes down to supply and demand I suppose.  And a lot of positions aren't really a case of do the courses then hit the ground running, more a case of have lots of years relevant experience.
And something like Project Manager - I worked with one who had SFA IT experience but the job itself can come down to management and people skills - like you might have an outsourcing environment and multiple stakeholders all wanting to engage in a constant shitfight.

Then of course consider it's a contract.  You may as well throw a 20-25% premium minimum on any given job for the fact there's no paid leave or LSL provision.  Superannuation might be part of the package or you might need to do your own thing.  And a non-ongoing arrangement that might end at a day's notice in some cases.  So add it all up and it can be 2-3 times the pay of a permanent pretty easily.

I worked in the same place as a cousin just under 20 years ago.  I thought I was going OK,  but he was making probably the same as my weekly by Tuesday lunchtime - I think his skillset was DBA stuff and programming earlier on then moving into the analyst/architect stuff.

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There was even a headhunter fee at one stage - they were after Database people and were offering something like 2-2.5 Grand just for getting one onboard.  I phoned a bloke I used to work with and tried to get him in but he had gotten out of IT and wasn't interested.

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Hmm,

I've been a contractor for years, decades probably, with a few short interludes that confirmed for me that it is best that I be my own boss or I am likely to be up on homicide charges from being employed by morons.

Everything Ry has said is utterly correct, my best advice would be set aside a separate bank account and chuck a minimum of 15%, I usually manage 20%, into it, you will need it for the lean times and the occasional holiday breaks.

Is it worth it?

Probably, here I had to build a reputation, years ago, but W.A. is somewhat like that.

In real terms job-for-life security went out the window decades ago, it is dog eat dog, better to be the carnivore than the fodder ?

Cheers

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I've had a a few jobs - okay two jobs - with job for life security but then there are other considerations like bureaucracy and like chrisg said, wanting to murder idiots.

When I've worked on projects, the tech contractors have generally known their shit.  But the PMs and BAs have usually been dumb as boxes and just stuff around and delegate work, then piss off if anyone notices how worthless they are.

So is it hard to get work?  One girl I recently worked with told me a month or two before a contract ended she would start applying for work, and would send out a few hundred applications before she got a job.  She did manage to work almost all the weeks of a year though.

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Yeah, the BA as I understand it is more along the lines of what the job title says and with little to do with IT.
IMO if you want an utterly worthless piece of shit who needs to be thrown under a Kenworth then look no further than Service Delivery Managers - essentially ego driven yes-men who promise clients unrealistic delivery targets because they're paid to suck arse and don't have to do the actual work.  And often the type who were in IT but got shuffled upwards due to lack of technical knowhow.

Agreed with contractors really knowing their shit - for the most part.  I was in the PS in the 80s and back then there were a lot of jobs for the boys with the outcome that there were plenty of O2 theives lounging around on 3 times the pay of everyone else.  But I had a dealing once with a small agency and the phone got passed around among the permanents who barely had a clue, then they asked the contract guy and he came across as if he was running the show.

To get a job - at the start at least you'll need a pimp.  That's slang for an agency like Hays, ClicksIT etc.  Back 20 years ago the hot ones were Computer People, Icon and Candle but there's been a lot of jostling, name changing and merging.  But just looking at IT jobs on Seek (which is largely just an aggregator) will bring up most of the prominent IT 3rd party recruiters.

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I work in Software/Systems Engineering rather than IT - Similar in some respects vastly different in others - especially it seems in terms of the corporate cultures. I had always figured I would work contract at some time. Just never really happened - instead I've been working for the same company for 20 years now (hmm, checking the date... I actually won't hit that milestone for another 1.5 hours)

I've worked with contractors that come do their 8 hours/day diligently yet detached and contractors that are indistinguishable from employed staff in terms of participation, unpaid overtime etc and dedication to the success and outcomes.

i don't know if it still stands, but the rule of thumb in the past was typically to have an hourly rate equal to local base full-time employed annual salary/1000 - in order to cater for lost super, leave, and down time between contracts. So someone who would work for a salary of $100k/year would contract at $100/hour - or $800/day. Not sure if that is still the case, but it would be easy to see the rates you are talking about being achievable for many senior or executive roles. That was the rate for a short term contract 1-2 year fixed term contracts are normal full time rate.

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17 years ago I was on $50K per year in a job - a guy on contract with more experience than me so if perm probably would have been the next level up ~ $57K - he said "I felt a bit cheeky and asked for $86 an hour, and I got it".  Even today that's a pretty kickarse sum of money to be pulling in.

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1 hour ago, stadl said:

i don't know if it still stands, but the rule of thumb in the past was typically to have an hourly rate equal to local base full-time employed annual salary/1000 - in order to cater for lost super, leave, and down time between contracts. So someone who would work for a salary of $100k/year would contract at $100/hour - or $800/day. Not sure if that is still the case, but it would be easy to see the rates you are talking about being achievable for many senior or executive roles. That was the rate for a short term contract 1-2 year fixed term contracts are normal full time rate.

FWIW, ~50k is what a chef with no real responsibility should be looking at for full-time work.  And an agency chef will be costing the client $50/hr, at least, even if the chef won't see more than about half of that. 

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Supply and demand. If you have a unique skill or talent, you can charge a lot for it.

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I worked contract for years.  It's a tough gig.  Constantly on the lookout for your next contract, interviews etc.  Contractors are also always the first to go when a company starts looking for cost savings.

Yeah, the money can be there, but it's a heck of a lot easier to know where you are going to turn up to work the next day.  It does give you more flexibility, however I got tired of being a hobo and moving from place to place and contract to contract.

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I did that for a period between permanent jobs because IT jobs in Darwin are hard to find. Not the most reliable form of money. I had a 3 month contract at the local uni, which got extended again another 3 months. Then uni rebranded ... and sacked all contractors to save money.

Edited by Jeruselem

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Yeah that's the thing that's always put me off - I wanted security, just want to stuff around not knowing what my budget was or how much money I needed to be putting away, or being surprised by loss of work etc.

Also some of the contract staff I've met who are in long term relationships sometimes spend significant amounts of time in a different city to their partner.  That would suck arse (and not in that good, millenial way... ).

Anyway, thanks for all the food for thought.

17 hours ago, Rybags said:

To get a job - at the start at least you'll need a pimp.  That's slang for an agency like Hays, ClicksIT etc.  Back 20 years ago the hot ones were Computer People, Icon and Candle but there's been a lot of jostling, name changing and merging.  But just looking at IT jobs on Seek (which is largely just an aggregator) will bring up most of the prominent IT 3rd party recruiters.

 

Ah, right, I was thinking of just applying for jobs but that sounds much less distasteful.

 

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Good luck, looks like contracting is preferred by some employers because they can throw you onto the streets at their own whim !!!

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1 hour ago, Kothos said:

Ah, right, I was thinking of just applying for jobs but that sounds much less distasteful.

 

Many of the jobs will be advertised by those lot, although more and more are appearing on Linked in directly from the company.  Generally tho, the pimps will do the advertising and interviewing and charge you out to the company at a premium.  So they will be doing the paperwork etc. 

Don't expect them to actively look for contracts for you - they won't.  Contracting is mainly about applying for 3-5 jobs per day until you actually get a contract, then starting the applications again a month or so out from when the contract is due to end.  Oh, and endless chasing of recruitment people who don't bother to return calls or give you information about potential jobs.

It also means you will get a lot of calls from them for jobs which you won't be able to get, just to boost their numbers of interviewees.  You will also get about 60 million requests through linked in from those companies as they all seem to have some sort of KPI for number of connections for potential people.

You will also probably need your own ABN as most of them prefer to have someone with one.

 

Good luck.

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What I meant there was that the usual with contracts is that it'll be through a 3rd party, usually an agency.
Of course it'd be preferable to deal direct with the employer but you'd need a well established network and employers willing to do it that way.

But, with plenty of agencies they will give preference to people already on their books.  You'll also probably notice the same job advertised on multiple sites, so no doubt there's some multi level commission arrangements going on in a lot of those cases.

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17 hours ago, Nich... said:

FWIW, ~50k is what a chef with no real responsibility should be looking at for full-time work.  And an agency chef will be costing the client $50/hr, at least, even if the chef won't see more than about half of that. 

The people I knew who use that rule of thumb, applied it to what they received  - If they went through any agency or placement that was additional to what they saw.

It may be one of those industry culture things. In engineering some people contract through agencies, but a lot of contractors go direct to the employers on short term work.

I know a few people who  grouped together to form a shell companies that are basically contractor coops and they manage the ABN and billing processes that some employers desire, but don't exist to take a serious profit, as the shell company is owned by the people they place.

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?

 

 I suppose the term itself is subject to interpretation.

I usually have a defined problem that needs attention, provide an estimate of time to complete, usually divide it out as an up-front retainer and a weekly stipend plus a final report that once accepted nets me a bonus.

From what I gather though i'm a little unusual ?

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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Hmm, honestly, it's starting to sound like it's not worth it.  Thanks - I'd hate to have wasted my time just because I'm antsy.  I'm studying for the next year anyway so I should concentrate on that.  I just feel weird not having a job.

 

Edited by Kothos

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If you're studying then it might be worthwhile looking at part time and short term holiday contract stuff.

Of course the ideal situation would be some scholarship where they send you off and pay you as well but they're not exactly falling out of trees.

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They have a few teaching scholarships in NSW and I'm in good running for them (I'm studying maths and willing to work in poor areas (aka my own suburb)).  But the competition is fierce.  And the scholarships are only worth about $5000 per year plus $2500 placement bonus and a guaranteed job.

I'm not sure how much I need the guaranteed job part but it would be nice.

Edited by Kothos

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There's just a shortage that's all - of maths teachers, physics teachers, and for some reason graphics design teachers.

While I'm a tech nerd I couldn't graphic design my way out of a trendy paper bag, and I don't have any subjects for physics so I'm stuck with maths if I want to get a job, I think.

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Aren't most science teachers there via way of dip eds on a bsc and not a b.ed?

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Don't know about most but the qualifications system has been changing.

In the old days you got a bachelors degree and then got a dip. ed.

Then they introduced a 4 years B. Ed. to make it more professional - consists of roughly 2 years of subject specialisation and 2 years of ed. with about 6 pracs.

But to make sure the dip. eds. keep up with the B. Eds., they are phasing out dip.eds. and replacing them with Masters of Teaching.  Basically longer than dip. eds., 3 pracs included, but otherwise the same or similar content.  There's some sort of deadline where unis won't be allowed to offer dip. eds. any more, I think there's only a couple left who still offer it.

 

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