Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Logistics of a New Gig

So, you've landed yourself a freelance or contract gig and are all psyched up to start. It's a very exciting time! However, before you begin working at your new job, there are some logistical details you will need to find out in order for everything to go smoothly:

Where exactly is the job located? You should find this out before your first day, when you're running late due to forgetting something at home, need to put gas in the car, etc. Use GoogleMaps to find out how to, and if you're taking mass transit, figure out which routes you need to take, where to get on/off, and how much it costs. Also, does the employer provide onsite parking (in the downtowns of large cities, they often don't), and will you need to register for a permit to use it?

Who do you report to? Besides their name, you should get their phone number and title if possible as well. Additionally, if you were placed through an agency or consulting firm, you should have the contact information for the people you work with there as well in case there's a problem and they need to verify something with the client.

How will you be paid? I'm assuming you will know how much you're getting paid, but there's other things you should find out too. On what day will you be paid? How do you submit your hours -- do you need to fax in a timesheet, enter information in an online system, etc.? When does that information need to be entered by? Who approves your hours, and if they can't do it by the required time, who is there backup? Who do you contact if there's an issue?

If it seems like there's a lot of questions to ask there, you're right -- there is. I can't begin to tell you how many issues I've seen with this over the years from myself and other people. They all get worked out, of course, but it can save a lot of worry and frantic phone calls to know all of this up front.

What's the dress code? Nowadays, these run the whole range from allowing t-shirts and shorts to requiring suits. Business casual seems to be the standard nowadays, but you can't assume this. If for some reason you don't know what the requirement is, dress up. It's always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

What are the building hours, and when specifically are you expected to be there? It's important to know the earliest and latest times you can be in the building in case it comes up, and if there is weekend access. Additionally, you should find out when they would like you to report on your first day and what hours they expect you to keep going forward (they may have exact requirements, as is often the case in a call center, or they may not care at all). Furthermore, are there holidays or other days when the location will not be open? This could affect how much you're paid that week depending on what you get for holiday and vacation pay.

If you can think of anything else that's good to know before starting a new contract or freelance position, let me know in the comments.

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