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IT contractors vs. 'permies' - how to avoid conflict
Posted Apr 21, 2008
As an IT contractor, you will be expected to join projects and to get on with your work in an efficient and professional way.
To a new contractor, the transition from permanent staff to contractor may take a little time to get used to.
Whereas in your previous permanent job, you may well have been involved in petty issues such as coffee rotas or organising leaving cards for other colleagues, as a contractor your main priority is to do your job rather than involve yourself with the concerns of permanent staff.
The "permie" vs. contractor issue is a well-known phenomenon in the contracting world - some permanent staff may resent contractors for their higher incomes and seeming lack of commitment to "company issues". Although some disagreements between the two sets of workers may sometimes be inevitable, here are some irreverent tips to help you get on with your new permanent colleagues.
1. Money - A golden rule in contracting is never to discuss your remuneration with permanent staff. The opportunity for resentment is massive.
2. Flash - One of the benefits of contracting is the potential to significantly increase your income. Although it's great fun to drive around in your new-style Audi TT - quite rightly so, it might be any idea to play it down a bit when you get to work.
3. Politics - Although you may find yourself involved in project-related politics from time-to-time, try not to get involved in other company issues. This may be easier said than done, but your concern is purely to get your contract work done, and not to enter a coffee room debate over the usefulness of some middle-manger in logistics.
4. Clothes - Alongside some of the previous tips, it's not worth overdoing the flash clothes when contracting. A decent suit, or tidy casual clothes are fine, depending on office conventions, but wearing a grands worth of tailor made suit and some dreadful Gucci loafers will not endear you to the permies on your team.
5. Help - Always be prepared to help the permies on your team. You could win over a potential problem permie by resolving a technical problem they may have. You have been hired for your technical expertise, so there is no harm using your skills to increase your profile on your project.
You may find these tips relatively easy to follow on a day-to-day basis. However, you need to be extra vigilant if you're down the pub at lunchtime, or if you've been invited to some kind of work 'do"'. Unfortunately, the urge to break free and discuss the benefits of IT Contracting with your permanent colleagues will become ever-stronger as the pints are poured, so be extra careful!
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