Jealous Permies – I am the first contractor here and they all hate me

Jealous Permies Advice
Jealous Permies Advice

Jealous Permies

Contractor Anna sent us this article, about jealous permies.

I am working for a local Government IT department. It is only my second contract. However, it is the first time that they have ever had a contractor here and they are making it obvious that I am not welcome.

I didn‘t become a contractor to be hated and to spend every day as an object of everyone‘s contempt.

The trouble is that as they have never had a contractor before they expect me to be much more knowledgeable than them especially ‘˜at the money you‘re getting‘ as they tell me.

It‘s not just my co-workers, it‘s the Project Leaders and Project Managers too.

It was the Development Manager‘s decision to bring me in.

Every time I ask someone a question they always seem to answer ‘I thought you would know that’.

Less Experience Than Them

However, I only have 3 years experience myself and some of them have been at the same site using the tools and languages there for 10 years or more and know how they do things there inside out.

They also know the systems and have the business knowledge and I have to ask them questions.

It‘s all getting on top of me and I‘m thinking of quitting. It is a 6-month contract and I‘m only 6 weeks into it.

jealous permies
Jealous Permies that contractors have to put up with

Have you come across this before Dr. McLaughlin?

What‘s your advice?

Dr. McLaughlin’s IT Surgery

Anna, I HAVE come across this before.

I have worked in more than 20 contracts including two where I was the first ever contractor. I‘ve also worked for a local authority, although I wasn‘t the first ever contractor there.

I‘m very sympathetic to your plight.

Option 1 – Quit the Contract

You have several options.

First you could just quit. It depends if you are confident that you could get something else. Things are improving, but it is still a difficult old market out there.

Option 2 – Stay There and Look for Contract

The second option that you have is to stay there while looking for another contract. That way the money can continue to come in, even while you are looking.

There‘s nothing like being continuously being in work.

Option 3 – Stick It Out

The third option is to try and stick it out and just ignore the comments.

I found that the comments gradually wilted away over time. It‘s completely unlikely that they will still be making the same old comments in month 5 that they were making in month 1.

You could also try to educate them a bit as well.

What they are describing, and what they were expecting, was more of a consultant than a contractor.

Tell them the difference between a contractor and a consultant.

More Secure Jobs

Tell them that you being there helps secure their jobs.

Companies, and local authorities, normally hire the basic amount of staff that they need for normal conditions. However, when some extra work comes up, then they often hire contractors.

They don‘t hire extra employees because they don‘t need them after the extra work is finished.

The more contractors that are hired the safer the jobs of the employees.

When a downturn comes and they need to chop something off the bottom line, then it is the contractors who will go first.

If there are no contractors there, then it will have to be some of the employees.

Ask them what happened during the last downturn and whether any of their numbers was laid off.

Employee Substitutes

Of course some contractors are consultants and are paid even more money. However many of them are employee substitutes doing much the same work but for a set period rather than forever (PCG members please avert their eyes).

The extra risk they are taking means that they get paid more.

Also, point out to them, that if contracting was abolished it would be an option that was no longer open to them, if they ever needed to make a lot of money quickly.

It is important also not to bite back after one of their ‘˜smart‘ comments either.

Jealous Permies – Bide Your Time

Bide your time and you will see that most of the decent ones will come over to accept you, isolating the hard nosed ones who never will.

If I were you I‘d combine options two and three, i.e. stay there while looking for another contract.

However, if one comes up, that‘s well and good.

If it doesn‘t, you‘ll almost certainly find that you are at the worst of it now and that things will get gradually better.

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