Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do Recruiters Consider Contractors The Same Way As Permanent Staff?

I'm coming to the end of my fifth year as a contractor and currently looking for an interesting opportunity. I chose those last two words very carefully.

After years of being in the 'system', working as a process and quality management consultant, internally and externally, for some large corporations all over the world, and generally being considered quite good at it, I decided to go freelance for several reasons. Some of those reasons were:

  • I wanted to be able to have some choice over what assignments I took on and where they were
  • I didn't necessarily want to work all year round, as I wanted time to spend on personal projects not necessarily connected with my chosen speciality
  • My financial commitments had changed and I didn't need to rely on a high salary to make ends meet
  • I didn't want to get caught in the upwards spiral of progressing into more and more senior roles and becoming less hands-on with regards to the things I enjoy doing
  • I wanted the freedom of being my own boss

Since 2009 I've worked on average for about 8 months a year which suits me fine. Some contracts have been senior departmental roles, others more project and hands-on oriented, just as I hoped. I've just started the search for the next interesting opportunity and I confess, I'm struggling a bit. There are great contracts out there - some very senior, some much more 'junior', but I don't seem to be getting past the agency stage. And I'm beginning to wonder if recruitment agents are using some of the same criteria for contractors as they do for permanent staff. Namely, do they fit into the appropriate position in the target hierarchy, and will they fit snuggly into the organisational culture.

I can't help thinking that if this is the case, then both contractors and businesses are getting a raw deal. If I slip into the shoes of an organisational manager (which I have been!), if I have a task that needs to be performed I would like someone who is capable of performing that task to the best of their ability and to the highest standards, regardless of their previous level of seniority (or possibly lack of it). And if that task is only going to take a limited amount of time, maybe just a few weeks or even a few months, I'm not sure that I need to be too bothered about how well that person fits the company culture - they simply aren't going to be there for long enough to upset things, and even if they do, the company can get rid of them relatively easily!

So, if I apply for a contract which involves doing some low level process analysis, mapping or documentation, why do you, as a recruitment agent, think that I'm not the right person for it? Is it because it's only paying a moderate day rate and you think I'll be unhappy with that? Or is it because you think it's beneath me?  Or that I'll be unhappy taking direction from someone with less experience than me? Please tell me how I can be over-qualified to perform a task that I can do extremely well and that someone needs doing!

Don't you think that I might have made those decisions for myself when I applied for the role in the first place and that those issues are irrelevant as far as you are concerned? Isn't your job to find the best person for your client and let your client decide?

In the last three or four weeks I've applied for a number of roles where I match the specified skill requirements with flying colours and tick all the other boxes, but I haven't even been contacted regarding any of them.

I can't help but wonder that I've suddenly become one of those increasingly common beasts - an over-qualified expert who is no longer considered able to do the very things that they are best at, and even more frustrating, not being able to share the wealth of experience I've amassed whilst trying my best to become over-qualified!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Irresponsible Government

These couple of paragraphs from Guardian.co.uk caught my eye this morning:

Ministers moved to quell swine flu hysteria last night, as concerns grew that the National Health Service might be overwhelmed by hordes of "unnecessarily anxious" people who could make a full recovery at home.

Amid rising government worry about how NHS staff will cope as the virus spreads, health secretary Andy Burnham warned that panic itself could push services to breaking point. Health Department officials said there was a danger of a "panic pandemic" that could hinder the treatment of more serious cases.

This displays the type of sensationalism that we are now accustomed to from this pathetic government who are clearly living in a different world to the rest of us. The only panic visible around the UK is from government ministers who are trying to convince the populous that they are looking out for our best interests.

The British public doesn't generally panic - it just gets on with life. I have yet to meet, hear or see anyone who is even remotely bothered by swine flu, other than the reaction from public officials who may prevent them from carrying out their everyday lives.

If our imbecile ministers have nothing genuinely constructive to say then why not just shut up for once. Enjoy your long summer holiday, and leave the rest of us in peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Forgotten Heroes and other things lost

In his article in the Daily Mail today, A.N.Wilson wrote about the modern phenomenon of outbursts of public mourning for celebrity deaths. He compared the grotesque scenes associated with the Princess of Wales, Jade Goody and now Michael Jackson with the dignity and solemnity that the British public used to display for its genuine heroes such as Wellington and Churchill.

Of course many of those people now wearing their hearts on their sleeves for their departed idols wouldn’t actually have a clue who Wellington or, possibly even, Churchill were, never mind what they achieved.

Spare some time in the next few days to mourn the loss of our history, values and sense of proportion.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I got Rick Astley'd and I'm not amused

Yesterday afternoon, like many other thousands of people, I was sitting at my Mac eagerly awaiting the arriving of the iPhone 3.0 upgrade. As a traditional early adopter of techie things I confess to being caught up in the excitement and anticipation, and I had TweetDeck open to monitor the course of events in the early evening.

I continue to be puzzled at the range of emotions seemingly normal people show under such circumstances - hundreds of Tweets per minute were being flushed through the system with people 'shouting' and cursing at Apple because the update was not available at the crack of dawn. For goodness sake, it's an upgrade to a gadget - which worked pretty well anyhow. There's no need to get suicidal because your unrealistic expectations are not being met. Apple never issued a time, just a date - you simply presumed that it meant 00:00:01 on the 17th.

Anyhow, I patiently waited until about 18:05 UK time, and pushed the button and low and behold the upgrade started and completed about 20 minutes later, and I'm genuinely happy. Not ecstatic but genuinely happy. Unlike earlier when I did get TwitterRage.

Some idiot had earlier posted a Tweet saying that the upgrade was available on UK servers and included a URL in the message. In excited anticipation I clicked on it and I got Rick Astley'd. In other words my Flock browser was commandeered by this rogue and I was subjected to "Never Gonna Give you up" as well as each line of lyrics appearing in a pop-up window. Not to mention Rick's head appearing all over the screen. Despite the offending code also preventing me from quitting Flock, I managed to disable it fairly promptly and order was restored. But only after my eardrums had been punished, and my ego badly dented for being stupid enough to click on the damn thing in the first place.

But most of all I felt sad - do people really lead such sorry lives that this is how they get their kicks? After all, the person who created this didn't get to see my immediate reaction (and I doubt they'll ever read this blog entry) and I don't know who it was so I can't give them the "credit" they deserve. So, what's the point...unless the guilty party was actually Rick Astley trying to do a Peter Andre and resurrect his career in which case let's just point out that Katie Price is single again...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Real Issues and the Trivia

For my sins, I recently joined the Twitter community. I had made a conscious decision to keep away from Social Networking (apart from LinkedIn which I regard as a business tool), but having been invited to join Facebook and become slightly addicted, I finally succumbed and went the whole hog, so I guess I'm now a Facebooking Twitteree.

To indulge my cravings I use a variety of 'tools' on a number of different platforms, Flock and Tweetdeck on my Macs, and Twitterific Premium on my iPhone. I have been completely overwhelmed by the Twitterific community and it's reaction to the recent so-called Twitpocalypse. For those of you in the dark, the Twitpocalypse refers to a Year 2000 type bug in which Twitter applications crash after a certain internal counter exceeds its boundary.

Twitterific users became a bunch of jibbering idiots because they were unable to get their fixes because their favourite tool was broken and updates were not instantly available. Tweet after tweet referred to the tweeter's despair, anger, fury, disloyalty, and every other emotion. All this at the same time as the Iranian election was reducing that country to genuine news meltdown and lockdown.

While I understand the frustration caused when tools fail (but let's remember that there were plenty of work arounds), it makes me really mad that people cannot seem to tell the difference between real issues and trivia - or sometimes even if they can, they are so self-centered that they choose to ignore those differences.