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So I've been contracting for 6-7 months now. The problem I have is that I take a contract while looking for work and then don't want to bail on the people working in my contract. Then when the contract is up, I tell myself I'm going to take a contract while looking, etc.

I'm concerned that if this trend continues it will not be good for my career. I'm particularly concerned about the fact that the contracts (3 to 6 months) aren't really long enough for me to participate in a full SDLC.

Does taking a series of 3-6 month contracts make it more difficult to land a permanent, senior position later?

For example, I can't imagine someone hiring a consultant to be a team lead. So if you are going from contract to contract, does it hurt your ability to eventually become a team lead?

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Hi @q303, have you seen Job hopping, is it a problem? Does your question cover any new ground that the earlier question didn't? –  user8 Jan 21 '11 at 18:37
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@Mark: Yes, job hopping refers to changing a permanent position every couple of years. This refers to taking work that you know is of a short duration and stringing that work together over a period of a couple of years. –  q303 Jan 21 '11 at 18:40
    
No, it doesn't, and most of the answers on the other question address career contract employees. –  user8 Jan 21 '11 at 18:41
    
@Mark: hmm...I didn't read all the answers. –  q303 Jan 21 '11 at 18:49

7 Answers 7

Of course not! You are currently acquiring experience much much faster than if you were stuck at the same place for a longer period.

You see many different way of working in different places with different rules and different people. There you get your experience.

That experience will be very valuable for your future employer.

You should highlight that fact in your cover letter and CV. In your cover letter, mention that the fact you are working at different place allows you to gain valuable experience the company will be able to use. In the CV for each contractor position, mention it was a contract explicitly. Be prepared to be questioned on that during the interview.

Oh, and I love your name.

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Totally agree that is a great way to acquire experience –  Gratzy Jan 21 '11 at 18:33
    
I added the 303 as a hommage to you. –  q303 Jan 21 '11 at 18:50
    
Pierre: once again, you answer before I can. +1 –  user281377 Jan 21 '11 at 23:16

You may have trouble convincing an employer that your a full time candidate if for several years or so all you have are contracts. Instead of taking on another contract why don't you dedicate some time to finding that full time position you are looking for?

On the other hand sometimes a nice contract can turn into a full time position if its a good fit.

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Don't forget to look at contract-to-hire positions. Let the firms who hired you for the short term contracts know you might be interested in those as well.

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+1 because a lot of firms use this as a vetting strategy –  Gary Rowe Jan 22 '11 at 9:17

I'll generally agree with the the other answers about gaining experience as this is important, but as someone who interviews for permanent staff don't do this for too long.

Lots of short contract stints are not looked at favorably, it's okay for maybe 12 months but not much longer. Interviewers look at it that you don't get your contract renewed (regardless of if that is important to the project you were working on) and think that you have trouble either completing your work or taking ownership.

Also beware of becoming the "outsider" when you do go back to permanent employment and don't develop the "contractor mentality" as you will find people will not be pleased with it and generally see through it very quickly.

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What is the contractor mentality? –  q303 Jan 21 '11 at 23:55
    
@q303 Contractors can become arrogant and self-serving. The needs of the client should come first. –  Gary Rowe Jan 22 '11 at 9:19

If it did, there wouldn't be so many contractors in the world. I have a friend that did this for awhile. It allowed him to get experience in a lot of different areas that he wouldn't have been exposed to if he had worked for only 1 company during that same time span-- the jack of all trades approach, if you will. Also, he later went to work for one of the companies he contracted for in a fairly senior position. He got to know them so he knew that he would like working for them and they got to know him and had confidence in his abilities and his work right from the get go. It was a win-win.

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Not at all

I've ben contracting for almost 10 years now and I regularly get job offers related to permanent positions. I've been tempted many times, but as @Pierre303 has pointed out, being a contractor gives one the opportunity to be exposed to many different ways of solving problems.

This is valuable experience and keeps you sharp.

But what of the software development lifecycle?

A friend of mine on a contract experienced the full SDLC in a single day while working in an extremely Agile environment.

He turned up to his first day at 9am, was introduced to his pair-programmer, picked off a user story, pair-designed and pair-programmed the unit tests and solutions to the tasks, popped the result into version control around lunchtime and saw it pass through test and deployment to live before he left at 5pm that night.

You don't need to be at a job for 6 months to experience all that goes with a life cycle.

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Something to consider is what kind of places are you applying. If the company does consulting that is similar to what you did on contracts, then it may well appear to be great experience to show that you can handle changing places frequently and other aspects within that. Thus there may be an upside to contracting.

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