Often gigs are done on purchase orders. This means that you have lead time to prepare for alternatives if a renewal does not happen. I have had a few gigs where two weeks notice was required if the client decides to terminate early. Of course, the unexpected does happen, I recall one gig where I suddenly found that I could no longer sign in via-email or VPN into the client; I assumed it was a password issue – turned out that my contract was terminated abruptly (I had refused to work on December 25th for the new boss, and he terminated as a result – I was working for someone else in the same firm 6 weeks later…) It took almost a week before I got the official word through the agency that I was working through…
My usual practice is to always assume that the gig will not renew. This means that 4-6 weeks before the end of gig, I start putting out feelers. I will often drop resumes off to interesting adverts, looking for two types of gigs:
- Straight Contract
With many firms, they will renew 4 weeks before the end of contract to insure you are retained. It’s good to poll other consultants at the firm about their experiences. If it is past the typical renewal date, then assume the worst and get your next work lined up.
I will often interview while still working on the current gig. Whether you declare that you expect to be renew is a subjective call. I usually do not; the current hiring practices that I have encountered do not reciprocate on this courtesy. Often these interview result in subsequent part-time gigs for the firms that I interviewed with. It’s effectively a form of marketing. The key is to start with the adverts that are of most interest to you.
If you hit the unemployed state, then you need to balance your cash reserves (as a consultant, you need cash reserves – at least 3 months), your pickiness for gigs and the seasonal hiring patterns. Typically gigs are most abundant in September and in January. Eventually, it may become “any work considered [seriously]”, and then “buddy, can I become an employee…”.
As a consultant, I like to have 2-3 part time gigs a year for several important reasons:
- It keeps IRS happy – all of your income is not coming from one client!
- A startup equity stake agreement will often substitute for revenue to IRS
- It keeps you learning and upgrading skills and experience!
- Some gigs may be “pro bono” or for equity stake. The purpose is building skills or building good will with folks.
- Not adding and expanding skill sets will keep dropping your marketability as technology changes.
- Keeping these side gigs short prevents burn out AND allows you to gracefully exit (i.e. end of contract) from situations that were not as advertised…
- I will often advocate a shorter initial contract for these – so exiting a bad situation is cleaner.
That’s it for today’s musings…