A new week

Good morning readers,

Last week we reviewed the first few chapters of Ibrahim’s book “Weeding out the Wankers.” This week, I’m going to relay stories from the current job search. I am learning some things about the contract business that I’d have to say are a bit unsettling. It seems that contract companies in the Ottawa area have adopted a value system that needs some refining. People who have worked in the contract industry for years, tend to say “That’s the way it is,” but being new to the industry, it seems wrong.

If you are a contract company in the Ottawa area, your staff is most likely made up of three types of employees. You will have employees, temp employees and independent contractors. Employees are most likely the absolute best people you can find or new grads that don’t cost a lot. These people are the core of your business and the last people you would let go. Employees get paid vacation, benefits and as much job security as you can manage.

The second class of employee are your temp employees. These are people that you needed to fill a contract because you didn’t have the right skill sets in house or you ran out of staff. They get benefits and paid vacation, but they get a lower wage and have no job security past the end of their predetermined term.

The third class of employee are your independent contractors. They get a higher rate, no benefits or paid vacation and they are the first ones you cut when times get tough. As an independent contractor you are expected to be looking out for yourself, so you must keep your head up and jump ship as soon as it looks like changes may be in the works. Planning contracts can be challenging, because you can be let go at any time.

This three tier system of labor, seems a bit amoral even if  “That is the way it is”. I understand that the nature of contract work is very volatile, but the industry reminds me of the recording industry. Record companies would use the excuse that they lost so much money promoting groups that didn’t go anywhere, that they needed to charge huge amounts to the successful groups and the people buying the recordings in order to stay in business.

A simple translation from marketing speak would be, “We can’t really manage our business so we want your to pay for our failures”. There are no other industries that are permitted to run this way. As a business, you plan, you create a pipeline and you staff to manage the work that you expect to win. You treat you employees equally and involve them in your business with all staff updates, by communicating your marketing message and you empower them to represent the company and sell.

A well known entrepreneur and friend used to say “Everyone is in sales,” and Ibrahim echoed that sentiment in his book last week.

Companies that can’t manage their sales, staff and marketing message deserve to die. I’m really, really not a big fan of unions, but the way independent tech contractors are being treated needs to change in order to promote the good companies over the bad. This may sound a bit harsh, which is not my intention. I promote a level playing field where companies succeed or fail on the products and services they put forward. If the products and services are good value then they succeed.

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