How the IT Contracting Market really works

IT Contracting Market

From a reader in response to our article ‘Tips for Getting a Good IT Contract Rate’.

How the IT Contracting Market works now:

1. You refuse to set a fixed rate, agent doesn’t put your forward – end of game.

2. You try to up your rate, agent says you have gone elsewhere and puts forward another candidate.

Mid contract …

Client insists you take a 10% rate cut or give notice.

At renewal ….

1. Your moron agent doesn’t return your calls or e-mails.

2. New contract arrives in the post.

3. No-one, client or agent will even discuss it.

4. You refuse to sign. Get another contract and leave on one weeks notice.

5. Two months later the same agent sends you an e-mail about a new contract opportunity.

Broken Market

Honestly the whole IT Contracting market is broken.

90% of the contracts advertised don’t exist.

Agencies and agents are a waste of time with constant spam e-mails and stupid phone calls.

They treat their contractors like BT treat their phone customers, with hidden contempt and loathing.

The market is ripe for a new business model. There are some interesting sparks on the horizon.

Aggressive agent – How I sorted Him Out

Aggressive Agent

This article, about an aggressive agent, is from the Forums of the now defunct www.ComputerContractor.net.

I had an agent like that in London and I told him I would come down to London and find him.

I turned up in the reception and asked for him.

The ponce wouldn’t come out of the office.

One of the girlies came out and told me he was in a meeting all day.

I told her about it and why I was there.

Three Months’ Contract

I asked her if he always mouths off down the phone and hides behind girls when it bites him back. I said I would wait.

The girl was amused and I’m sure it didn’t do his street cred any good.

I never got any more lip from this particular agent – and I did do a 3 month contract with the agency just after that.

They are tough on the phone 250 miles away but turn to mush when you take them to task.

So much for this aggressive agent.

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Lying Agent – How I scuppered Him

Lying Agent

By a reader in response to one of our articles.

Well Known Agency

I have had an odd experience recently, in that two agencies contacted me with positions that I was well qualified for.

I dutifully sent off my CV, and heard no more.

On another occasion, I had a call from a well-known agency about some work in London.

Agency Trickery

As usual, we debated the rate, but I held fast.

The agency said it would submit my details.

Another agency rang me, and offered to check whether I had been submitted.

No, I had not been. The lying agency had not done it.

The second agency submitted me, and I got the contract, at my preferred rate.

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Greedy agency cost me my IT Contract

Greedy Agency

From a reader.

Paid More Than MD

I had a situation a couple of years ago after working on a company site for 6 months.

The company’s accountant, with whom I had a good rapport, informed me that the MD of the company was kicking up as I was costing the company more than he was paid.

It turned out that the agency (they handle a lot of purchasing roles) were keeping 60% of the fee.

Lost Contract

I had a go and told them if they halved the charge rate and took a token fee the company would keep me on.

They declined the offer and I lost a very enjoyable job.

IR35 investigations normally take years to complete

IR35 Investigations

According to the Office for Tax Simplification, when reporting to the Government:-

“Data shows that, for cases settled in 2009/10 or 2010/11, almost half took over 142 weeks to complete, and approximately one in five lasted for more than four years.

“This is clearly very stressful for the taxpayer, who wants to concentrate on his business.

“It is usually not possible for HMRC to give generic rulings on the IR35 status of a group of workers as the position of each may be different”.

IR35 Status

This is ridiculous.

It doesn’t make any sense.

It must take up a lot of HMRC’s resources for a tax that raises £1m a year.

It’s bureaucracy gone mad.

Imagine more than half of investigations taking at least 2 years, 8 and a half months.

Imagine what the contractor investigated is going through during that time.

Some common sense needs to be used here.

Get real. Computer Programming is easy

Computer Programming

This article, Get Real, Computer Programming Is Easy, was posted by a reader as comments after one of our articles.

Computer Programmers

Look boys and girls this guy is right you have ALL got to wake up to the realities of the REAL world.

At the end of the day computer programming et al is basically glorified car mechanics.

My wife speaks three languages and earns £20K / year. Each of her languages consist of thousands of words.

Computer Languages Easy

Computer languages consist of tens of words at most.

Think about it. If it is so difficult how can so called uneducated third world people be taken out of fields and be trained in such vast quantities to do it.

The answer, because computer programming is not that HARD.

Views of an Ex Computer Programmer

I am an ex-computer programmer that has moved in to project management and I am positioning myself to move into the general management of the business.

WHY, because it is HARDER to outsource as it is less easily learned and has more culturally dependent IT skills.

If I can offer you all one further tip, we have all been SPOILT by quite frankly ridiculous money for what is basically something which is very easy.

Golden Days of Computer Programming Over

SUPPLY is now starting to catch DEMAND and guess what everyone, the golden days are NEVER EVER coming back.

STOP wasting your energy on moaning and instead start focusing on how you can re-position yourself to start adding REAL value in this new world!

Computer Programming is Easy. That’s why they can get hundreds of thousands of third world workers to do it. Learn a new skill that is less easily replicated.

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Crazy reason for agency not putting me forward

Crazy Reason

Crazy Reason for Agency Not Putting Me Forward was posted as Comments by a reader.

Contract Role

I once applied for an IT Contract role during the downturn, with the junior agent protecting her senior counterpart from me.

Finally she told me sheepishly that I probably didn’t make their shortlist because the client might be worried that I had been out of work for 4 months!

No credit for the full employment over the previous 10 years, or that my last contract in a highly relevant role had been for 3.5 years.

I was on the scrap heap because I hadn’t found a job in 4 months

Only Relevant Roles

Certainly wasn’t down to me not trying, I only applied for those roles that I truly believed I should be in with a shout of, so as to not waste agents’ time, but still I had a wodge of double-sided paper an inch thick for those jobs.

Total sum was that maybe 10 of those I was put forward for – who the hell were ALL these people allegedly so much more experienced.

Even when put forward, half of the agents still wouldn’t return my calls to ask progress.

What a crazy reason for the agency not to put me forward.

Contractors and Agents are like husbands and wives

Husbands and Wives

An agent gives his prognosis on the relationship.

This appeared as Comments after an article.

We Control Market

The simple fact of the matter, is whether IT contractors likes it or not, agencies control the contract market.

It is extremely difficult to get an IT contract role without an agency.

Good Product

Secondly, a good agent sees a good contractor as a good product.

As an agent, I know my reliable contractors and treat them as such.

I will work my ass off to get them another contract and refer them to friends who are also agents or directly to clients who aren’t using but I know are recruiting.

Give and Take

Their has to be a bit of give and take in our relationship.

I know without my best contractors I will not make any money and my good contractors should know that without a good agent who has good clients they won’t get any contracts.

Husbands and Wives Relationship

Contractors and Agents are like husbands and wives.

You don’t have to love each other but we can at least learn to live with one another.

A divorce ends up with nobody happy and both of us out-of-pocket.

Advertise Fake Jobs | IT Agent Tells Us Why They Do It

Advertise Fake Jobs

Why do Agencies advertise fake jobs? This was sent to us by a recruitment consultant who tells us why.

Sending an Update CV

I would be surprised if any IT agency has not posted an entirely fictitious job at some point.

The reason is that many candidates, however much they say they’re sending an updated CV, will do nothing until they see a job they really want.

This is fair enough, but it means that when a client phones and says they need an X number of contractors ASAP, the agency would have to publish adverts, and probably wait a week to get a handful of semi appropriate responses.

That is why we advertise fake jobs.

We don’t have jobs for that particular skill at the moment but we anticipate we will in the future – and the IT Contractor will benefit from us having his, or her, CV at hand.

Advertised Jobs

By printing generic, quite vague adverts and having a good selection of CVs regularly coming through, I can say to the client when he, or she, calls “yes we have 4 CVs we would like you to have a look at” and, if I’m on the ball, start selling the candidates in straight away.

If I actually advertised each job and awaited responses, hoping to get a couple of CVs over in the next week, I wouldn’t be doing anything the client couldn’t do themselves.

We add value to the process by having the potential candidates at hand for the client. That is why we advertise fake jobs.

IT Contractor Skills

If we have he CVs for particulars skills already then that’s fine.

However, where we have a weakness and are short of IT Contractors with those skills then we will get them when we advertise fake jobs.

I know that it is a little dishonest and that IT Contractors get disappointed when they contact us with their details when we don’t have anything for them.

However, when we advertise fake jobs, and they send us their CVs, although short-term it doesn’t give them a better chance of getting a contract through us, medium term and long-term it does help them.

I hope this explains why we advertise fake jobs and that IT Contractors will see that it benefits both of us to do this.

Umbrella Companies

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Spamming References. What to Do When Agencies Do It

Spamming References

It is one of the things that annoys IT Contractors most i.e. when IT agencies phone up saying that they want to put you forward for IT Contracts but first they need to take some references up for you.

Spamming references is the curse of the industry.

They want to know the name and contact numbers of previous bosses. They are almost certainly doing that to obtain leads so that they can contact them themselves to see if they have any contract opportunities going.

They are extremely unlikely to have a job for you.

CV Forwarded

A variation on this trick is to ask you for the names of the companies that you have been put forward to, allegedly so that they won’t put you forward again ‘and spoil your chances’ of getting the contract because your CV has been put forward more than once.

Almost certainly what they really want here is to find out what companies are looking for IT Contractors so that they can put their own candidates forward in competition with you.

Spamming References – Further Details

I think the best thing to do is to ask them for further details of the contract, e.g. location etc. whilst saying that you will get back to them on the references as you need to check with the references first.

Ask them for their telephone number. If they refuse to give it, then this is a dead one anyway.

Also tell them that you are giving the references, on the basis that these references will only be used for references and for no other purpose.

Phone Number

Attach a note to your CV when you send it, saying that this was to confirm your telephone conversation that the references were to be used for references only.

If you find out that they were being used otherwise (and you could use a mate as one of the referees), you have the phone number so you can contact the head of the agency asking if this practice is company policy, and, if not, what action that they were going to take.

If you are not satisfied by that, and belive they are spamming references, then report them to REC or Apsco.

Umbrella Companies

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