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View Full Version : What is your ideal length of time at one client?



wendigo100
9th December 2006, 09:52
Many contractors just want extensions and seem to want to stay as long as they can. Will Knight's recent CUK article was based on that premise.

I once did five years somewhere, which in hindsight was far too long.

This year I've started six new contracts, not including an extension during one of them, which is perhaps a bit too MF-ish.

Obviously if the money is silly it is hard not to turn down extensions, but otherwise, what is the ideal length of time for a contractor to hang around?

Isn't part of the reason for contracting the variety, which is better than one long stint somewhere (like a permie) where all the years merge together?

Buffoon
9th December 2006, 10:13
The ideal time at JUST one client is zero. Best to have several clients at the same time. IR35 safe for a start, but also means that you don't have to take so much crap from them as you can 'let them go'. :rollin:

MarillionFan
9th December 2006, 10:26
I quite like the variety. Plus, I like to do other things, take a month off go on holiday. I cant do that if I extend and finally a number of different contracts/mixed up mean I am outside IR35.

Mentally, if I am on a contract and the missus wants to take a week off, I bleat and cry like a little girl that even though the cost of the holiday is £1000, it's really costing £3000!!!!!

Ardesco
9th December 2006, 10:41
I would find it hard to stay longer than a year. I would get bored out of my brain and get itchy feet and want to look for a new challenge.

Mordac
9th December 2006, 11:12
If it's fixed price, the less time the better...

ChimpMaster
9th December 2006, 11:30
I look at it slightly differently, in that personally I'm only in it for the money. So if I can get a good stint then why not ride it for as long as possible?

Then, say after several years I have achieved "financial freedom" :rollin: I can then pick and choose what to do and work in.

So all in all, if the rate's good then hope it lasts as long as possible.

Denny
9th December 2006, 12:00
I think six months max is nice. Preferably three months with one extension for the same rather than six months straight off.

I've been in my present contract 8 months by the time I terminate end of next week (two four month stints) and it's a bit too long for me. I only stayed that long because the client site, when I needed to visit it, was on the doorstep and the rate was very very good plus I was well outside IR35.

I've found it very stressful too, because the hours I needed to put in were often quite long for the first 6 months, with Saturday stints being necessary far too often. In the past six weeks the pressure has tailed off so much with no much time needed on my remaining work to justify keep me that fully occupied during the day (a 7 hour day makes me feel I'm working part-time, when I spent such a concentrated effort over a few months prior to that putting in 10-12 hour days regularly and Saturday's too). Therefore, I felt like I'd pretty much left weeks ago, with programme e-mails slowly drying up and no new work coming in, even though I've worked out of my homeoffice for the entire run of the contract. When you look on your laptop and only find 2 e-mails come through from your programme team for the entire day (and on odd days none at all), it's time to move on.

It's been a good run for me though, I've also had no expensive breaks mid contract or between first and second extension.

I can afford to take a couple of months off without penny pinching over Christmas now and hope to pick up something else at the end of January giving me a solid 6 week break - which I badly need now that I feel physically and mentally exhausted. That will take care of Christmas, decorating my bathroom and going away for a couple of weeks too.

cojak
9th December 2006, 12:28
2 years. After that you feel like a permie. Not good.

threaded
9th December 2006, 12:33
One of my clients, a UK gov dept., must be well over 20 years now. OK it's not on site all the time, just do the odd job.

Sysman
9th December 2006, 13:48
Three years at one place doing code maintenance. The money was excellent and it was 20 minutes from home, but my skills were getting stale. I had to move on to attack something different and keep my sanity.

vista
9th December 2006, 15:17
I guess the time to leave any account is a combination of when the product / program is successfully delivered and when there's nothing new/available to learn.

Angela_D
9th December 2006, 15:22
2.5 years and was offered 6 month extension yesterday. IR35 crap doesn't apply here. I would like to leave but the rate is higher than I could probably achieve in London so greed wins.

kramer
10th December 2006, 20:48
depends how long it takes to bang the hottie on reception/admin/marketting

then it time to hot tail it out of there before it hits the fan

MarillionFan
10th December 2006, 21:04
"depends how long it takes to bang the hottie on reception/admin/marketting

then it time to hot tail it out of there before it hits the fan"

Which reminds me kramer. I have that Rhyponol you wanted me to get on my last trip to Thailand. You still having trouble sleeping right?

Cliphead
11th December 2006, 08:25
3 - 6 months, I get bored after 6 months in the same job although if the rate's good...

Rantor
11th December 2006, 08:36
2 years. After that you feel like a permie. Not good.

A good benchmark - previously I lasted 28 months and that was pushing it.

Now in a bit of a dillema as I have been on my current project for nearly two years and have been offered a rolling extension at v good dosh.

Only problem is I don't really want to do it now, partly beacause of the normal contractor itchiness to move on to other things but mainly because the client has a numpty-centric stafffing policy and they are very hard work indeed.

I even asked for too much money in an effort to put them off but they OKed it. High class problem I suppose but I'm glad it involves signing on the dotted line every few months (or not!)

lukemg
11th December 2006, 09:29
I reckon 2 years tops, don't want the CV to look like a patchwork quilt with a rash of 3 and 6 monthers on, you must have been doing something right to stay that long.
Over 2 years and you start to get very stale, the market moves on and you may lack confidence getting back into it. I did nearly 6 at one place, thought I couldn't leave because the rate/location/conditions were too good as the market died elsewhere. Not sure I made the right decision to stay but the reliable cash really set me up for the future.

wendigo100
11th December 2006, 09:46
I reckon 2 years tops, don't want the CV to look like a patchwork quilt with a rash of 3 and 6 monthers on, you must have been doing something right to stay that long.Good point if you are a bum-on-seat. However, I am usually taken on each time to do a specific task then move out to the next one, so I've even done two-weekers.

Since my five-year stint, I have been on a couple of bum-on-seat contracts elsewhere, but left each one voluntarily after a year or so.

Also, I've been back to previous clients a few times, which I think is a better demonstration of doing something right.

bobhope
11th December 2006, 09:49
I'd agree with the 18mth - 2 years. Depends on what you do, but if you have too many short gigs, then that's regarded with suspicion.

Once did almost 3 years at one place. I was ready to jump out the top floor window and / or go postal by the end.

DimPrawn
11th December 2006, 09:50
I had some HR bint "interview" me once and say "your contracts are all 3,6 and 9 monthers mostly. Do you have a problem staying in one job?".

To which I replied, "No, but I do have a problem with companies hiring contractors when they really should be hiring permies."

Denny
11th December 2006, 09:58
I had some HR bint "interview" me once and say "your contracts are all 3,6 and 9 monthers mostly. Do you have a problem staying in one job?".

To which I replied, "No, but I do have a problem with companies hiring contractors when they really should be hiring permies."

That's a great answer.

When too much emphasis is placed on length of contract and concerns about whether you are too unstable to stay in one place rather than focusing on the work that was delivered successfully according to what your brief was you can bet that they view contractors as bum on seat numptys not real owner managed businesses. This is a very inside IR35 attitude typical of staff hiring HR personnel who, frankly, shouldn't even be involved in hiring contractors. This should be the province of supply chain representatives. If the work is done then it doesn't matter whether the contract was for 2 weeks or 2 years.

All my contracts have been for 6 months or under (except at my current one of 8 months) as the work I do is considered backfill (late taken on and easily dispensible and usually replaced by fixed termers or permies). There is no questions about my dedication to getting the tasks done and just because I wasn't extended to work years at one place doesn't make me any the less dedicated to my work nor does it imply that I was not good enough to be extended. If you have a Schedule of Works completed for each assignment, then it goes without saying that contracts can end once the work on it is completed.

Mind you I would be worried if my contract wasn't extended only to discover that they were replacing me with another similar EB sourced contractor, even by the same agency, on similar rates. That would imply that I had not delivered or was disliked by the client hence they wanted to get rid of me. This has never happened to me.

Xenophon
11th December 2006, 10:31
I had some HR bint "interview" me once and say "your contracts are all 3,6 and 9 monthers mostly. Do you have a problem staying in one job?".

To which I replied, "No, but I do have a problem with companies hiring contractors when they really should be hiring permies."
I have recently said the same thing to my current client.

DaveB
11th December 2006, 10:36
About to get a 2nd 6 month extension at the current client and a rate rise if all goes well. I probably wont go for another one after this though as it will be 18 months with the client by then and I'm getting itchy feet now. Only took this extension cos is the quiet christmass period and I didnt want ot be on the bench just at the moment.

lukemg
11th December 2006, 14:57
Interesting thread - for once ! You can see the range of people on here, most are bum-on-seat, a tiny few are in good demand and claiming own-business status. When the phone is ringing as soon as you dip your toe into the recruitment waters (or even when you aren't) it gives you a big confidence/ego boost that you are in demand.
That's fine and I hope everyone gets a taste of that. Good test of character comes along when the phone stops ringing, all sorts of options you would not even discuss previously e.g. type of work/rates/locations/permie jobs suddenly pop onto your list and it doesn't take long either. Couple of months of howling wind and tumbleweed and your confidence is up in flames !
Good luck all !