Dyce & Sons

Helping businesses with IT since 1993

Like buses round here eh? After a month of no postings, two come along at once.

And work is a bit like that too.

I've managed to find four different possibilities for my next work direction. Two companies looking for a jack-of-all-systems, and two alternative models for continuing as a contractor, getting contract work in a different way.

Going back in-house

In terms of the traditional companies (although given the companies, I think 'traditional' won't cut it as a desecription), the one based in Bristol is happy to have me tele-commute which is logistically great, and the other will require that I relocate from the north of Scotland to Cambridge. This is less onerous than it sounds, as I hear the local schools are good(!), and as alumni of Fenland Poly, a trip back to the alma mater was always on the cards I suspect. I'll have to wait to see how these pan out, but fingers crossed.

Doing the same, but different

Of course there's lots to recommend the life I have already. But it's not perfect, and there are pros and cons:

What I've enjoyed about being a freelance contractor:

  1. Varied work.

  2. (Almost) no office politics.

  3. Minimised commuting.

  4. Good rates.

What I've disliked about being a freelance contractor:

  1. Effectively job hunting every 3-6 months.

  2. Having to play the sniffing dogs game with other contractors at the same client.

  3. Finding out that either the client doesn't actually know what it is they want, or has a keen interest in moving the goalposts on a whim.

Actually, of this last list, 2 and 3 are pretty much facts of life in any technical job, so one should just "get-over-it". And the job hunting aspect is not as much of an issue as it may seem, as contracts often overlap, and I've enjoyed lots of repeat custom over the years.

But if I could find some way to reduce the on-going stress of finding new, interesting work, then remaining a freelancer might be the better bet than going in-house. Which is why one of the alternative contractor models has really piqued my interest.

TopTal.com appears to be offering exactly what the doctor ordered: varied, interesting work; from people who know what they want, and an avenue into large clients who will pay accordingly. For me this ticks all the boxes. A good site for any freelancer needs to provide all three of these, not just a pick-and-mix of any two.

Interesting work, because if it isn't interesting why are you coding? People who know what they want, because people who don't are always hard to please, and exhibit strong goal-post moving tendencies. Large clients who will pay accordingly, because well, to do your best work you shouldn't be nickle-and-diming all the time.[^1]

More importantly, they have a screening process for applicants - in a similar fashion to say hired.com, but for contractors not full-time hires. It also seems a little more stringent than hired.com, as they claim to be targeting the top 3% of applicants as opposed to hired.com's claims of 1 in 10 acceptances.

Of course, everyone assumes that they're in the top 3% right? I'll just have to see whether they think I am, and how this process works. Hopefully I'll soon find out, but I'll keep you posted whichever way it goes.

[^1]: (If I never see another "I'd like a Facebook clone for $49.95" freelance ad, it'll be too soon. An incidentally, why the .95? What are they doing with the $0.05 they saved on a nice round $50? If the site they were posting on charged them by the character for their advert, I'm pretty sure it would read $49...)