Has anyone done web development on a contract basis?
I was recently contacted about an opportunity to do web design on a contract basis. This is a temporary position and the employer is not looking to hire after the project is over. I was recently layed off from work and I am seeking a full time job w/benefits. I know this would be great experience to have while I am looking for a full time job, but I am not sure how this contract business works.
Because I would like health benefits, I would still be job searching during this time. If I did find a full time job during this contract position, I would want to leave. Would I be legally bound to the company that hired me for the contract position? Would I get into some legal trouble?
It would be great if someone could shed some light on their experience.
The long answer really revolves around what you sign. But the bigger question is if you plan on using this contract opportunity as a reference. If so, I'd be VERY upfront about your job situation and explain to them that benefits are important to you and as such you will be continuing to look for a position that does so. Let them know that if you do get such an offer that you will most likely take it, but also let them know that if the situation arises, that you would give them an opportunity to match it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most contract work is often much higher pay than a "salaried" job. This is because the employer can get tremendous cost savings from not having to pay taxes and benefits. For example:
A full time web developer may get a salary of say $50,000 / year where as a contractor for the same position would probably get between $50 and $75 / hour, which can be significantly more than $50,000 / year. The "rule of thumb" that I've heard for contract vs. employee is that a contractor can usually demand 2 to 3 times the equivilant "salary" rate. With that additional money, most people don't have a hard time finding health benefits that they can pay.
One final thing about contracting - it's not secure. The "employer" can let you go at a moment's notice. That insecurity makes leaving the job a 2 way street. They can "fire" you, but you can also "fire" them. Of course, if you're looking for a reference, it's usually best to part on agreed terms and as diplomatically as possible, hence the beginning paragraph of my post.
I agree with the above. As long as the contract has a "Termination Clause" that directly states that the contract can be terminated by you at any time on the terms of you finding another job position, you should be okay.
But it is a good idea as stated by bcarl to have somewhere in the contract that they can try and match the job offer before you terminate the contract. Just for your sake, so if they offer you a better position with better benefits & etc.
So it all comes down to reading the entire contract before you sign.
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In case you are not aware of it, there are some companies who specialize in placing freelancers in contract and temp-to-hire positions. If you are having trouble finding full-time employment by yourself, I would urge you to find one of these companies in your area and see what they're all about.
I have done freelancing graphics and editorial work on and off for about 20 years. When I quit a job, I go to a temp agency. Some of them have good benefits -- dental, health, vacation, referral bonuses. Some of them will even let you go into their offices to "train" on other computer software or systems. And it's in their best interest to find work for you, so if your skills are in demand expect to find work. Temp agencies usually specialize -- some are administrative, some creative, some computer, some legal, etc., so do some shopping around.
I came across my current full-time job this way, actually. I was working for a printing company which fired me (probably because I was complaining that I was getting carpal tunnel syndrome). They let me go on a Friday, but that was okay because a temp agency I had a resume with had called on Thursday, so I had plenty of time to call them back! I was employed again by the next Wednesday. Sometimes things happen for a reason.
Thank you so much for the advice. I was recruited by an outside company. Seeing as I may have a couple full time offers on the way, I was put in a dilemna. Should I say no to the contract position and risk also being turned away from the full time positions? Or should I say yes to the contract position, leave them if I received a full time position thereby angering a recruiter and the company contracting me.
Just because I believe in karma, I told the recruiter my predicament. He said I could do it, but that it would spurn two parties and that word gets around. I did not want to anger anyone by leaving. And I don't want karma to get me one day, so I did not continue with the interview process. I feel real good about my other interviews and I am expecting an offer. (If I don't get it, then I'll feel duped!) Hopefully it will work out for me.