“I have an excellent contract opportunity coming up that you would be an ideal fit for work”. Words I would guess any IT contractor hears quite often.
And so the dance started for two weeks. Calling him to find out what exactly this opportunity was and is being given the same line over and over.
(A up-and-coming, dynamic marketing agency has one of their IT members on long-term absence and they need someone to fill that role”
Immediately I ask why has said person on extended leave from the company and you can hear the agency man and are trying to think of a good cover up. I see that last bit with the benefit of hindsight.
So this particular role is going to be based near Swindon, the next junction past the turning for bath.
He then goes on to describe the position as a mixture of first, second and third line support for a company of about 60 individuals that also provide services to some “major market leading brands”.
Translation, they have one IT guy because they don’t see the value in looking after their systems. But don’t worry because we will work in to the grind to ring every single piece of energy and life out of them whilst paying as little as we can.
Know the agency man comes out with the big guns. “What rates are you normally home?”, “I normally go for £20 an hour”.
£20 an hour is what I would really like him but with the market conditions being as they are I know it will probably be closer to £15 if anything.
Just as a side note I’ve not been on anything like that for the last 3 to 4 years.
“So Highwood 150 a day grab you?”, I’d give it quite a hug “
So almost immediately he’s trying to the company as much as.
They bury mind that dayrates might seem like a lot but I have to sort out my eye and tax and national insurance contributions. I also have to pay an umbrella company to put me down as an employee.
Also been done and if you are clever enough with your expense claims you can hopefully take-home anywhere between 80 to 85% of the daily rate.
As this job is some 50 miles away from where I live I also have to try and find accommodation. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
The job is only for two months which would be quite nice to see out the summer somewhere different before coming back to the dark and grisly land of Pembrokeshire. If anything it would be an interesting experiment to see if I could actually managed to be sociable back in an office environment.
Time after time I told the agency guy that I need a couple of days notice to get myself organised for any interviews or a potential start date. He tried pushing me hard on this one to say why can’t I do it next day and I said I had work and I’m not going to set a president of jacking a job in to go to another one without doing it properly. After all I said if I willing to do that to this employer that could mean I would do it you wouldn’t it? I was hoping the penny would drop but it didn’t.
At 6:10 PM on Wednesday I had a voicemail asking if I could go to an interview on Friday. Yes granted if I and lived where I told him, Bristol, then that wouldn’t be an issue but the stark reality is I’m faced with a 3 1/2 hour drive to go up there.
Three phone calls and to text messages followed me around most I was working on Thursday. At 4 PM on Thursday I said no I couldn’t make it because I’m on the end of this job and I need to finish it to get paid. I think it is a pretty darn good reason and I did make it abundantly clear I needed “a couple of days notice”
He says what about Monday and I said I would rather not as it’s quite a lot of hassle for Monday morning coming off the back of this job but go for it. He said he would get back to me to be fair he did but saying that Tuesday would be better for the client.
But here is where the real sting in the tail comes.
The daily rate has plummeted to 100 times a day equating to £80 a day take home after tax and ni etc.
The multifaceted first-line second-line and third line support role has now become a first-line only role. I have no intention or desire to become someone who answers phone calls and logs them on to a system especially when it means having to travel all that distance.
So it turns out in reality this is a first line support roll with very limited remote assistance/fixing stuff to do.
I set him straight I said this is a far cry from the position you sold me on and the rate is also miles away upon which we said it would be to start with. “That’s all the client wants to pay”.
If you had an interview on Tuesday and they want you to start Wednesday with that be okay?
Again did I not make it clear to him earlier that I need a couple of days to get things sorted
“As long as the interview goes okay and I find out exactly what I will be doing and get on along with the people then that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Well like I said I haven’t spoken to anybody else about this role and you are pretty much surefire to get this one at the interview”
Small chit chat was made after that but I could tell he was getting all defensive like agency people do when you start to push back at them but there is one comments that really wind me up “at the end of the day it’s a job”
Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m ungrateful for any work opportunities but when you’re told one thing at the start and that changes as you get closer and closer to the job that’s bad enough but when the entire job specification changes and then the daily rates plummets as well that’s the thing which really aggravates me.
Yes at the end of the day it is a job and if I actually did live closer to where this position was I take it anyway. Everybody knows that contracting agencies are pretty much on the same scum level as estate agents and as the conversations between us have progressed this has become more and more evident.
Breaking things down.
So I’ve been thinking about my options for accommodation and I can only see two unless I want to spend two months living in a tent.
Holiday Inn for 3 nights ( Wednesday to Friday) £91.49 per night.
Taking a look around the average price for a bed-and-breakfast is £50 per night
Lunch I estimate at a very conservative £5
Dinner, if I’m lucky, to be about 8 pounds
So just to eat and sleep for one night is going to cost me approximately £65. When your rate is £80 coming home with £15 a day in your back pocket makes things tough going.
Purchase a caravan £300 – £400.
Cost of getting caravans to site £100 ( on a wing and a prayer)
Electricity hook up per night £15
food cost per day £8