The Hidden Job Secret!
by Arthur J, Byrnes
The Job Market changed in 2001, and it had little to do with September 11. Layoffs and downsizing started even before the year began. Employees are the costliest part of most businesses, and the first place investors often look for cost reductions.
So, what does this mean to you as the job seeker? If you are a qualified and dependable worker you can get a good job. But, the Secret is, even if you are not “Qualified,” if you can do the work, you can still get a good job! Because technology is changing so fast, and the bottom line is the most important thing to large companies, people who may not “Qualify” to be hired as permanent employees are often hired as contract employees.
The word “Qualified” is tricky in this sense. For the average person, if someone can do the job, they must be qualified. Corporate Human Resources people see the world differently. Many of them believe that a piece of paper is more important than the ability to actually do the job. Rather than screen resumes for ability and experience, they look for things like buzz words, degrees and certifications.
For many employment classifications, this technique works fine. A recent accounting graduate with a Bachelor or Master degree with good grades and all the other trimmings, is a good risk. After learning the company’s unique procedures, the applicant will likely do a good job. The art of accounting follows time honored techniques, and changes slowly.
In the Computer field, changes occur daily, new software, new hardware, and new methods of using both. A recent computer graduate may need a lot more technical training before he or she becomes a contributing member of the team. In some cases, the technology learned in school only supplies the basics. Several years of real life work experience is still necessary, to make a good employee.
Companies still have to get the job done, and they do this by hiring Contract Employees. The company gets an “Instant” experienced employee whom they pay no benefits, and owe no loyalty. When the workload goes down, they get rid of the CE, with no severance, and no layoff benefits. For the company, CE’s provide a quick way, to add to their work force to meet a higher than expected workload.
Many companies now use CE’s as a way to screen future permanent employees, by using an artificial time limit, (6 months, 12 months etc..) the employer merely says, “Sorry, time’s up.” rather than “You’re not working out, we have to let you go.”
CE’s are good for the company, but they are also good for the prospective employee. The company is not making a long term investment in a CE, so, they can afford to be less choosy. While a permanent position may require a Degree to be Qualified, a contractor’s only qualification is the ability to do the job.
For the job seeker with experience but no degree, the contractor route provides a foot in the door to a company that might ignore the resume if it came through the usual channels. Often the contract employees never see the Human resource office, since the CE receives no employee benefits. Although in many cases the CE does get “no-cost” benefits like product discounts and such.
Contract Employees normally make 25-35% more than a regular employee in the same position. But, “You get what you negotiate,” so, depending on the skill, scarcity, and urgency, of the position, a CE can make 50-100% or much more, than the regular employee. From this extra money you will have to “Buy your benefits.” Contracting companies often provide group rates on insurance and some provide easy access to self funded retirement programs.
Contracting, is not for everyone. Some folks can’t handle the fact that their job may go away tomorrow. Others don’t have the discipline to save some of the money for the times between jobs.
But, if you think you can do it, the jobs are out there.
Arthur J. Byrnes, was a contract employee in the Aerospace industry for many years. On-line he runs Arthur’s Job Blog.