I’ve made many a contractor mistake. This was probably the first one.
I remember when I got my first contract. It was double the money that I was getting as a permie. I had sneaked out of work to a phone box to make the call to the agency.
I didn‘t send my CV out to loads of agencies. For heaven’s sake, I contacted just one. The agency told me that there was no point in contacting any other agencies. That is I might get turned down by clients if my CV got to them through two different sources.
That seemed sound advice, so I didn‘t.
I also had an idea that IT agents would be similar to showbiz agents. You only had one who looked after your interests.
My! What a lot I‘ve learned since then.
Interview for a Contract Job
They did actually get me an interview for a job. I went for the interview and got it.
At the end of the interview the interviewer told me that I had the job. He asked me to remind him what rate I wanted I and he quoted a figure. It was 7% less than I actually asked for, but I just said ‘Yes’. I was embarrassed to have asked for twice my permie salary in the first place.
In fact I didn‘t actually ask for it at all. The agency told me that this was what I could expect.
When I started work I was surprised to find that I was the lowest paid contractor. My pay was up to 30% less than the others. How I wished that I had stood my ground over that 7%. It would have been so easy to say so at the time, but there was no going back.
I could always get it back at renewal time, I thought.
Contract Renewal Time
When it came to the time to renew my contract, the client told me that they had a policy of not giving increases at renewal time.
I started to get the feeling that I was being outfoxed all the way along the line.
The job was quite good though, and I got to go out and work at a client‘s site. The client‘s site was just a shop in Mayfair that sold fancy lighting from the Philippines and from China. If those looking in the window to see the lamps and lampshades peered a little harder, they could see me in the back shop writing the new computer system.
Helpful Recruitment Agent
I did call my agent round about renewal time to ask if he could get me another contract. I wasn‘t getting a rise and all the contractors there were getting more than me.
My agent, however, thought it was better that I stayed there for the time being as it was my first contract. Other clients would not be willing to employ me if I left a contract after just six months.
He was always full of good advice, and I began to think of him more as a worldly wise older brother. It was good of him always to look after my interests. People at my last permanent job told me it was a tough old world out there. But I would be alright as I had my agent to look after me.
More Experiences as a First Time Contractor
Talking of a contractor mistake……
I‘ll be telling you more about my experiences as a first time contractor and how I screwed up my finances shortly. Don‘t do what I did, for God‘s sake. It took me ages to recover.