Saturday, January 31, 2009

Curveball Redux

In my last post, I talked about finding out how my contract was finished at the end of the month and that I was interviewing for a permanent spot on the team. Well, I found out earlier this week that, although I almost certainly would have been given the position and did very well in the interview, the company was no longer able to extend the offer to outside applicants. This was a week known for its massive amount of layoffs, and my client was one of those affected. They were laying off several hundred employees, and not filling several hundred more open positions. Although this position was not included in that number (i.e. they still were planning on filling it), the company decided they could not justify giving it to candidates who weren't already part of the company when so many were losing their jobs.

I understand where they are coming from. Even though in the short term its definitely more advantageous to hire a candidate who can hit the ground running (in my case, I already performed 95% of the duties for the position, and have done so for almost three years), the company also feels quite strongly about protecting and retaining its current employees. When you're a hired gun, it's important to remember that you are not actually a company employee -- you work for either your consulting/staffing firm or you are self-employed. I've seen too many people forget this over the years, and it causes a lot of hurt feelings. But, that's a post for another day. The point here is that the company wants to support and keep its employees even when it might not be the most operationally effective tactic, and I respect that even if I lose out personally from it.

As for what's next, I'll get into that next week. I certainly have plenty of time to blog now!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thrown a Curveball

Speaking of opportunities for hired minds this year, I'm currently looking into those right now, as I found out a little over a week ago that my current gig will be over at the end of the month. My understanding is that this is fairly widespread in the company where I'm on assignment now, as they are discontinuing the long-term use of contractors and consultants in order to save money (which makes sense, since they are expensive to use for long-term roles and it's more cost-effective to just hire these people outright -- but that's a post for another day). I would imagine they will still use them for short-term needs, however. So, I have a couple of weeks left until possible unemployment.

The good news, though, is that my team is also adding a full-time position for which I am extremely qualified (since it has about 95% overlap with my current responsibilities). I've applied for it and I think it is very likely I will get an interview, particularly since I was strongly encouraged to pursue it. There will be competition, obviously, but I am ready for it. Of course, I'm looking into other opportunities as well -- to borrow a phrase from my wife, you never want to put all of your eggs in one basket, no matter how nice the basket. I will keep you all posted!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CNN Says I'm Right

Well, not in so many words. However, there was an article posted today that discusses how businesses are making more use of independent contractors than they used to, and why. As I discussed in my 2009 predictions post from last week, the uncertainty, reduced costs, and increased short-term nature of staffing needs are the driving forces behind this. The article also discusses why people choose to go freelance rather than work on a full-time basis for a company. Definitely worth a read.

Welcome PWR662 Readers!

Just a quick note to welcome everyone from my Writing for Digital Media class to my blog. If you're interested in the subject matter, I hope you'll stick around, otherwise thanks for the visit!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obligatory 2009 Predictions Post

Yes, I know it's been 2009 for almost a week now. However, it's still early enough where I feel I can participate in the prognostication of what the year will bring in the subject my blog covers. So today, I'm going to look ahead at what I think 2009 will bring for consultants and contractors.

On the one hand, companies have been and will continue to slow their hiring, pretty much not doing so unless they have to in order to keep running, at least for now. This will affect contractors, consultants, and temps just as much as it does regular employees. Furthermore, when there are layoffs, they will definitely be included, and may be among the first to go.

Yeah, that's some deep analysis, I know. However, there's another side to this. When companies do have a staffing need for a project or business expansion, many of them will be more likely to use outside vendors first rather than go to the trouble and cost of hiring regular employees (especially if they think -- or know -- they'll just need to lay them off later). Additionally, it's also possible that companies will decide to make a greater use of vendors as part of their normal workforce composition too. So there will be opportunities as well as challenges in the months ahead.

Overall, I think it will definitely be a tougher year than 2008, but the work isn't going to dry up completely, and there's always the chance things could turn around sooner than it seems. Though I am trying to keep my expectations low, I remain cautiously optimistic.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Just a quick note to let you know that I'm still in the process of getting everything on this blog set up the way I want it, so don't be surprised to see new things appear, other things change or disappear, the layout changes, etc.

Also, I've started adding blogs and other sites that I like and are related (albeit maybe loosely) to the subject matter. If you have a blog or site on here that you don't want included for any reason (or no reason at all), just let me know and I will gladly take it down.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What's In A Name?

So why did I name this blog Hired Minds, anyway?

Well, it took me a while to think of a good name. I actually first got the idea for this blog a while ago, but have been putting it off, and using my inability to think of a good name as an excuse. I tried to think of a title that was both catchy and reflected the content of the blog.

My first idea was Contract Killer, which probably would have gotten me readership, alright, but not the kind I want. I thought about other variations on the hired gun/ronin theme, but couldn't find something that I liked and wasn't already in use by another blog or company. I then considered something along the lines of Hired Geek or This Geek for Rent, but ran into the similarity problem again (plus, I didn't want this blog to seem too focused on IT or technology consulting; I do want to cover that, but not exclusively).

Since this blog is about the 21st Century corporate equivalent of hired help, I brainstormed plays on the phrase "hired hand", and came up with the current title. I think it's appropriate because it reflects how modern work for most people is an intellectual (and social) rather than physical endeavor, so the traditional term needs to be updated for the modern day. It kind of sounds like "higher minds" too, although that was accidental.