Should I stay or should I go…..

Joe Strummer, 1982.

I loved The Clash when I was young. Many an hour was spent listening to them, though in reality I probably spent more time pulling a seemingly endless stream of tape out of a cassette player, followed by the laborious task of and reeling it all back in with a pencil than listening to “White Man in Hammersmith Palais”.

Kids these days. They don’t know they’re born. Download a track from ITunes or stream from Spotify and away they go, and in the same way a modern day football fan can apparently change allegiance between the Manchester clubs each season, they can switch favourite bands with a click of a button – not quite the case for us who spent our spot-filled teenage years in the 70s and 80s.

Anyhow, let’s leave adolescence and punk behind and get back to 2014 and to my recent predicament – my most recent assignment was due to complete at the end of October and, fortunately for me, my current clients were sufficiently impressed with my performance to discuss an extension.

This particular situation encapsulates the good and bad bits of contract work.

The freedom to move away and jettison corporate baggage versus the uncertainty that a contract expiry brings – though it must be said as you get experience, top companies on your CV and a good network of former colleagues, that uncertainty diminishes, but it never quite disappears. There’s always the shrill voice of Fergal Sharkey warbling “A good contract is hard to find….” in the back of my mind at times like this.

Then there’s the art of timing and trying to synchronise finishes and starts. I feel like I’m in a plate spinning act on Britain’s Got Talent with half an eye on evil smug Simon Cowell’s hand hovering over the red button, or perhaps Harry Redknapp during the transfer window.

All of which leads to the temptation to take the path of least resistance and stick with what you’ve got. However, one of the main attributes you can bring as a contractor is experience absorbed from different organisations and programmes and the fact that you aren’t a one-trick pony.

When you think about it, in these negotiations you, the contractor, are the one holding with the aces. I’m not suggesting an acrimonious argument or brinkmanship, just a realisation that there’s a quite a cost to the client of finding, recruiting and on-boarding a new person onto a busy programme or project. If you take that mind set with you, you’ll approach the meeting concerned with a bit more confidence.

As for me, I’ve decided to reach a halfway house and move contracts to a company and people that I’ve worked with before, taking Joe, Mick, Paul and Topper along to keep me company.

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