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View Full Version : Cake and eat it - Some advice please



waccoe
18th February 2011, 19:49
Hi all,
First post on here, so be gentle with me. Been contracting for around 17 years, but the last 13 have been at the same place, I know, I know, the work was ok, rate wasn't bad, and it was convienient. Anyway, contract is up in 2 weeks, I've been offered another years extension to take me into my 14th year, but have been thinking it's now finally time to move on.

I've been looking around for the last 3-4 weeks, no interviews yet, but a fair bit of interest. I've told the client I'm considering moving on, and if I find something suitable I will, otherwise I may well renew, but the client is demanding to know by Monday, whether I'll accept the renewal or not. I'm not sure how to play this, I've already stalled the client a week, I want to move on, but I also run the risk of being out of work in 2 weeks time. Any advice on how to handle this? I guess I've a few choices.

a) Renew, 13 is unlucky, 14 is better so what's one more year.
b) Don't renew and risk being able to find something in the 2 weeks or shortly after. I'm a C++, UNIX programmer, working in finance outside the City, but looking to move back to the City.
c) Renew, but ask for a 28 day notice period to be put into the contract, and carry on looking for work. Currently, client can give 28 days notice, I have no notice period.

Any advice, gratefully received.

MarillionFan
18th February 2011, 22:22
Hi all,
First post on here, so be gentle with me. Been contracting for around 17 years, but the last 13 have been at the same place, I know, I know, the work was ok, rate wasn't bad, and it was convienient. Anyway, contract is up in 2 weeks, I've been offered another years extension to take me into my 14th year, but have been thinking it's now finally time to move on.

I've been looking around for the last 3-4 weeks, no interviews yet, but a fair bit of interest. I've told the client I'm considering moving on, and if I find something suitable I will, otherwise I may well renew, but the client is demanding to know by Monday, whether I'll accept the renewal or not. I'm not sure how to play this, I've already stalled the client a week, I want to move on, but I also run the risk of being out of work in 2 weeks time. Any advice on how to handle this? I guess I've a few choices.

a) Renew, 13 is unlucky, 14 is better so what's one more year.
b) Don't renew and risk being able to find something in the 2 weeks or shortly after. I'm a C++, UNIX programmer, working in finance outside the City, but looking to move back to the City.
c) Renew, but ask for a 28 day notice period to be put into the contract, and carry on looking for work. Currently, client can give 28 days notice, I have no notice period.

Any advice, gratefully received.

You've been there 13 years. You're effectively an employee and I wouldn't call you a 'contractor' in the terms that we understand it.

Why bother moving? You'll only hate it, you're part of the furniture.

TykeMerc
18th February 2011, 22:23
Well with 13 years in a reasonable rate contract I'd imagine you must have enough in your warchest to tide you over 5-10 years with no bother so...

Stay if you like the place/work/rate.
OR
Leave and look at your leisure until you find the right contract, if it takes a few months then no biggie.

wantacontract
18th February 2011, 22:26
STAY!!!

You've been there for 13, make it to 14 then leave...

Yes I am superstitious...

jmo21
18th February 2011, 22:45
Personal question I know, I'd love to know what rate(s) you've been on over that time - tell me to FO if you like :-)

Running a Ltd? declaring inside/outside IR35? (for the part that IR35 covers)

After 13 years, you may as well stay, unless you REALLY hate it.

nomadd
18th February 2011, 23:56
Hi all,
First post on here, so be gentle with me. Been contracting for around 17 years, but the last 13 have been at the same place

Bejeebus, and I thought I was doing well with 9 years spent on two contracts! :)

My advice: if you have a decent warchest to tide you over, and you don't mind being back in The City, then go for it. I moved back into Banking 4 years ago, after having left it for many, many years. I don't regret it a bit. It's been tough at times, but it's all worked out pretty well in the end.

It's surprising how much of a resurgence c/c++ has made in recent times. Virtually dead-and-buried a few years back - I know, I spent years doing it - it's proving mighty difficult to dislodge. This is because many of systems installed in banks were written this way in the 90s, as I'm sure you are aware. Some of the rates on Jobserve for c/c++ guys with finance have been very good lately. Having said all that, do look to re-skill - Java and C# would prove mighty useful.

If it was me, I just do it. :)

waccoe
19th February 2011, 00:13
You've been there 13 years. You're effectively an employee and I wouldn't call you a 'contractor' in the terms that we understand it.

Why bother moving? You'll only hate it, you're part of the furniture.


I was expecting a comment or two like that tbh, and I guess in a way it's fair. The fact is, I soon became pretty much indespensable, they kept on offering renewals, I kept on accepting. It's 15mins drive away, the people are friendly, there are hardly any contractors there, and it's pretty much the best rate you can get out of the City. I'd defy any "contractor" to not make the same choice as me.

My skill set is becoming slightly behind the times, I'm getting on a bit, early forties, can earn probably 30% more in the City, and don't get on well with the team leader, and tbh, just a bit bored now, hence the urge to move on.

waccoe
19th February 2011, 00:16
Personal question I know, I'd love to know what rate(s) you've been on over that time - tell me to FO if you like :-)

Running a Ltd? declaring inside/outside IR35? (for the part that IR35 covers)

After 13 years, you may as well stay, unless you REALLY hate it.

I wont divulge the exact rate, suffice to say it's very decent for non city work :happy I've been outside IR35, on Ltd, contract reviewed and insurance in place.

Freamon
19th February 2011, 13:26
I was expecting a comment or two like that tbh, and I guess in a way it's fair. The fact is, I soon became pretty much indespensable, they kept on offering renewals, I kept on accepting. It's 15mins drive away, the people are friendly, there are hardly any contractors there, and it's pretty much the best rate you can get out of the City. I'd defy any "contractor" to not make the same choice as me.

My skill set is becoming slightly behind the times, I'm getting on a bit, early forties, can earn probably 30% more in the City, and don't get on well with the team leader, and tbh, just a bit bored now, hence the urge to move on.
If you are indispensable why not just ask for a very cheeky rate increase? If you've been there 13 years you're probably more experienced in the systems there than most of the permies, which IMO makes you immeasurably more valuable than some random contractor off the street with the same technical skills. But if you can earn 30% more working in the City (starting on a new contract with no knowledge of the client's systems) then it sounds like your experience at the current client isn't reflected in your rate??

waccoe
20th February 2011, 13:56
If you are indispensable why not just ask for a very cheeky rate increase? If you've been there 13 years you're probably more experienced in the systems there than most of the permies, which IMO makes you immeasurably more valuable than some random contractor off the street with the same technical skills. But if you can earn 30% more working in the City (starting on a new contract with no knowledge of the client's systems) then it sounds like your experience at the current client isn't reflected in your rate??

I have asked for a rate rise, they've offered me 4.5%, when they have a policy of no more than 3% across the board for permie or contractor. As I said, I'm on a fairly decent rate considering I'm not in London, if they hired someone new, I think they'd be expecting to pay them about £50-100 a day less.

Think the thread has got bogged down with the 13 years thing. Think I've decided what I'm going to do, ask for a 4 week notice period, and carry on looking, if I'm lucky/unlucky enough to get something between now and and the remaining 2 weeks on my contract, hopefully it'll still be 4 weeks notice.

thunderlizard
20th February 2011, 15:03
That's as good a decision as any. I find it odd that you've been in contract on a good rate for 13 years, yet see the prospect of any bench time at all as a "risk". I can only assume you've got huge entrenched outgoings. Maybe save a bit up during the course of this renewal so that you don't feel like it's walk-straight-into-a-new-contract-or-die.

waccoe
20th February 2011, 15:43
That's as good a decision as any. I find it odd that you've been in contract on a good rate for 13 years, yet see the prospect of any bench time at all as a "risk". I can only assume you've got huge entrenched outgoings. Maybe save a bit up during the course of this renewal so that you don't feel like it's walk-straight-into-a-new-contract-or-die.

I haven't had any bench time at all in 17 years contracting, always gone from one contract straight into the next, not even a few days inbetween, so perhaps I've just been spoilt. No huge outgoings, and have more than enough saved up to keep me going for quite some time, I'd just be kicking myself if I didn't renew, and was then on the bench for 6 months. It's probably not very likely, just would rather have something else lined up before I put myself out of work.

escapeUK
20th February 2011, 17:07
I'd just be kicking myself if I didn't renew, and was then on the bench for 6 months. It's probably not very likely, just would rather have something else lined up before I put myself out of work.

But being out of work with plenty of money is brilliant!! Think of it as a mini retirement.

If I was contracting for 17 years id almost be a millionaire now.

VectraMan
20th February 2011, 17:41
But being out of work with plenty of money is brilliant!! Think of it as a mini retirement.

WHS. If I'd been contracting non-stop for 17 years, I'd be thinking of retiring, or at least going on a long holiday for a month or six.

Fred Bloggs
20th February 2011, 17:50
WHS. If I'd been contracting non-stop for 17 years, I'd be thinking of retiring, or at least going on a long holiday for a month or six.Yep, after 17 years on a good rate I'd be finished working full time and just picking the odd job that I fancied doing if it suited me.

BolshieBastard
20th February 2011, 18:13
Good job the OP has insurance in place (if indeed the insurer hasnt got some sneaky get out clause!) cos there's no way on earth an HMRC IR35 investigation wouldnt find him caught after 13 years at the same client, even if a contract review says he's outside.

TBH, I think he should stay cos any agent is going to look on him as a 'permie' just going contracting for the first time. Plus, if his skillset is getting 'old' as he says, he could be looking a long time for another role.

nomadd
21st February 2011, 08:49
Yep, after 17 years on a good rate I'd be finished working full time and just picking the odd job that I fancied doing if it suited me.

I've been contracting 22 years and say that to myself every year. Never happens, though. The lure of contracting gold is just too much. :)

Mind you, I do take long breaks off between contracts, so I guess that counts.

ChimpMaster
21st February 2011, 09:23
Yep, after 17 years on a good rate I'd be finished working full time and just picking the odd job that I fancied doing if it suited me.


I've been contracting 22 years and say that to myself every year. Never happens, though. The lure of contracting gold is just too much. :)

Mind you, I do take long breaks off between contracts, so I guess that counts.

I guess it partly depends on one's outgoings and whether you have allowed yourself to become accustomed to a more expensive lifestyle. It's quite easy to say that you would retire after x years' of contracting, but what if you start spending more or buy a bigger house, or perhaps you aren't married yet and don't yet have kids?

When I was younger (and single) I had planned to be semi-retired by 35. The plan was to have my one BTL property all paid off, and a couple of other smaller investments, so that I would have about £1,000 a month coming in without having to work. I then got married, bought a bigger house, had a couple of kids, and now suddenly I need more like £5,000 a month to maintain this lifestyle (which includes planning for the kids' school/uni fees etc). So that'll keep me on the treadmill for a lot longer.

ChimpMaster
21st February 2011, 09:26
You've been there 13 years. You're effectively an employee and I wouldn't call you a 'contractor' in the terms that we understand it.
...

That's the kind of comment an uneducated agent would make.

Multiple renewals = good business. If you were a supplier in any other field, would you dump a customer just because you had done business with them for 'too long'?

So why should it be any different for an I.T. consultancy?

curtis
21st February 2011, 09:54
13 YEARS!!!!!:eek:

I don't know whether to congratulate you on getting a contract for that long on contractors money or to think your mad for being there so long as a contractor!

Also the fact you've been working this way with no notice period, so as long as I have it right that has meant you have to stay the whole term of the contract and could not leave, that is mad to me!! I know there is a lot of debate with tax as to whether its good to have a notice period or not but to have a year contract each time with no notice period there is no way I would!

Good on you though if this has worked out for you but like others have said as you have been working that long and have the money, take a break. Another job will come up and a change of scenery is good otherwise you do start feeling more trapped and you could find this time next year saying 'just one more year' and so on and then before you know it it would have been 20 years and even harder to leave.

More to life than work.

2BIT
21st February 2011, 10:05
how much of a rate increase would you need to cancel out the fact you don't like the team leader? I would try for that but be ready to move - it sounds like you want to move so think the only reason you should stay is for more bucks - at 13 yrs on a contract you shouldn't need to find anything in two weeks but if you don't have a big warchest then stay

waccoe
21st February 2011, 10:13
That's the kind of comment an uneducated agent would make.

Multiple renewals = good business. If you were a supplier in any other field, would you dump a customer just because you had done business with them for 'too long'?

So why should it be any different for an I.T. consultancy?

Totally agree. The agent isn't interested in how long you've been in one role, they're just bothered about their commission. In fact, not one agent has even questioned the 13 years, they're all about how much do you want, and how much they can make.

I think there's a bit of envy creeping in here, with all the "you're not a proper contractor" talk. As I said further up the thread, if you're in a decent contract, paying a decent rate, the work is ok, and you're literally up the road, who wouldn't accept a renewal? My urge to move on, is stemming from being bored with the work now.

waccoe
21st February 2011, 10:19
13 YEARS!!!!!:eek:

I don't know whether to congratulate you on getting a contract for that long on contractors money or to think your mad for being there so long as a contractor!

Also the fact you've been working this way with no notice period, so as long as I have it right that has meant you have to stay the whole term of the contract and could not leave, that is mad to me!! I know there is a lot of debate with tax as to whether its good to have a notice period or not but to have a year contract each time with no notice period there is no way I would!

Good on you though if this has worked out for you but like others have said as you have been working that long and have the money, take a break. Another job will come up and a change of scenery is good otherwise you do start feeling more trapped and you could find this time next year saying 'just one more year' and so on and then before you know it it would have been 20 years and even harder to leave.

More to life than work.

Stupid of me I know, but I didn't actually realise that I didn't have a notice period. It's a bit of a nonsense anyway, if I wanted to move on, the client wouldn't have had any issue with a 28 day notice period, and the agent can't exactly force you to stay, I'd have just asked the client to invoke their own 28 day notice period, benefits of having a good relationship with them. In the past, I've managed to get out of contracts which didn't have a notice period.

waccoe
21st February 2011, 10:27
I guess it partly depends on one's outgoings and whether you have allowed yourself to become accustomed to a more expensive lifestyle. It's quite easy to say that you would retire after x years' of contracting, but what if you start spending more or buy a bigger house, or perhaps you aren't married yet and don't yet have kids?

When I was younger (and single) I had planned to be semi-retired by 35. The plan was to have my one BTL property all paid off, and a couple of other smaller investments, so that I would have about £1,000 a month coming in without having to work. I then got married, bought a bigger house, had a couple of kids, and now suddenly I need more like £5,000 a month to maintain this lifestyle (which includes planning for the kids' school/uni fees etc). So that'll keep me on the treadmill for a lot longer.

Another sensible post, and mirrors exactly what I've been through. All this talk of retiring and being a millionaire after 17 years contracting are totally wide of the mark. When I started off contracting, aged 26, I was on around £25ph, even before I started my 13 year stint here, I was on around £40ph. It's not been a steady 17 years at a constant astronomical rate. There's been a couple of kids, a much bigger house, school fees, new cars, general day to day living. Not saying I haven't got lots saved up, but retirement and "millionaire", I don't think so.

2BIT
21st February 2011, 10:34
yeah not sure I buy all the 'your not a proper contractor' stuff either, I'm enjoying my current role and it pays well so am looking to maximise my duration in it

TykeMerc
21st February 2011, 10:34
Totally agree. The agent isn't interested in how long you've been in one role, they're just bothered about their commission. In fact, not one agent has even questioned the 13 years, they're all about how much do you want, and how much they can make.

I think there's a bit of envy creeping in here, with all the "you're not a proper contractor" talk. As I said further up the thread, if you're in a decent contract, paying a decent rate, the work is ok, and you're literally up the road, who wouldn't accept a renewal? My urge to move on, is stemming from being bored with the work now.

I completely agree and I would have done exactly the same thing in those circumstances. It sounds like you're considering a change for sensible reasons and you can afford to take the time to find a new role that you like.

ChimpMaster
21st February 2011, 10:34
yeah not sure I buy all the 'your not a proper contractor' stuff either, I'm enjoying my current role and it pays well so am looking to maximise my duration in it

Oh look MF, someone with good business acumen!

alreadypacked
21st February 2011, 10:53
Another sensible post, and mirrors exactly what I've been through. All this talk of retiring and being a millionaire after 17 years contracting are totally wide of the mark. When I started off contracting, aged 26, I was on around £25ph, even before I started my 13 year stint here, I was on around £40ph. It's not been a steady 17 years at a constant astronomical rate. There's been a couple of kids, a much bigger house, school fees, new cars, general day to day living. Not saying I haven't got lots saved up, but retirement and "millionaire", I don't think so.

I think you have made the mistake a lot of people have, living within your current means. Maybe you should read "Rich dad, poor dad". You need to start making your income work for you, not just spending it.

ChimpMaster
21st February 2011, 11:50
I think you have made the mistake a lot of people have, living within your current means. Maybe you should read "Rich dad, poor dad". You need to start making your income work for you, not just spending it.


You've mentioned this book a few times now and I have to agree it is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. It completely changed the way I thought about money.

However, it's not as valid today as it was 10 years ago (which incidentally is when I first read it, followed by the next 3 in the series, all mostly recycled rubbish). The Western economic cycle is very much different now. The book is still helpful, just not as much - I wish someone would give me a 2011 version!

From the sounds of it, waccoe has lived within his means but it's not clear whether he's invested the surplus or just left it in the bank.

Fred Bloggs
21st February 2011, 16:13
I've been contracting 22 years and say that to myself every year. Never happens, though. The lure of contracting gold is just too much. :)

Mind you, I do take long breaks off between contracts, so I guess that counts.Yes, I think that counts. I'm an old fart anyway I haven't got more than another 8 or 9 years to go and hopefully I'll be in the "doing it because it's interesting" game rather than because I have to.