Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sage Career Advice From My Friend Ann

Recently, I was informed that some contractors at my last jobs were given termination notices shortly after their contracts were extended. My reaction to hearing is sympathetic to the contractors' situations, affirming for my decision to leave, and anger. I was angry because they could have just let the contracts run out, why renew them just to turn around and cut them loose?

I was sobered though when I told my fellow ex patriot, Ann, the news of what happened. She's been around the industry and her reaction was, "That's contracting, it happens all the time."

That's sobering news indeed. Ann realized that nobody really talked me through contracting. She told me that for any reason, I could be told that I'm not needed and that I'm done with the client. She said that if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person it can happen. I don't think that my client would do that, but they could be faced with a situation where they may need to cut costs. I know that people in my position are some of the first costs that get cut.

Ann gave me great advice. As a professional contractor, we need to be beyond reproach. We need to take whatever the employees do, and do it a little better. Dress a little more professionally, don't keep a browser open, don't conduct personal business on site.

Ann advised me not to get involved in office politics, that's just asking for trouble.

I think my Caribou friend Keith said it best, 'an ounce of perception is worth a pound of performance.' It's true, when it comes down to it, how others perceive us really drives how well our work is received.

I believe that I work as hard as anyone, but I am not always aware of how others may perceive me. Ann gave me some good advice to improve others perception of us.

It takes very little additional effort to do a little more to project a better image. That is what I intend to do.

Clean desk. All my loose handouts are piled in a neat stack. I keep a microfiber towel to dust off my work area, I think that adds a nice touch. I stored company keyboard and mouse in a cabinet instead of leaving it on my desk. I think it will make my area look neater.

Dressing professionally, my office is casual. I'm going to try and dress less casually than I normally would.

My code. I take pride in my code. I've identified a couple of areas where it can be better though. I think I do a good job in naming and commenting, but I will kick it up a notch and make certain that all of my intents in writing code is explained. My Achilles heal is logging. I've started improving the quality of the logging in my code.

The truth is anyone can be let go at any time. As we begin facing a challenging economic future, it only makes sense to do all you can to secure your livelihood by not only doing your best work, but also doing more to make sure that the way others perceive your work, and the way you work, is as good as they can perceive it.

1 comment:

Brian Vaughn said...

My sister was a contractor at United for about two months. She had signed a 6 month deal but after disagreeing with a pm she was dismissed. I've been involved in getting contractors extended and terminated.

I over hear a lot from where I sit in the office. I know they promised 6 month extensions then only gave 1 month. I also know they are looking to outsource support of a certain web service you worked on by our friends overseas.

If you need an example of a prefect consultant it's Nate. He is extremely professional, very polite and after so many years has never gone native.