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Without boring you all with details, my last two contract assignments were cut short; I was given 3 days notice on one, and 4 weeks notice on the other. Neither of these were due to performance – they both basically came down budget issues.

On my second contract, I got the feeling that I may not have been a great place to stay for the duration of my contract. Because of money/time spent getting me in the door, and the possible negative effect of my employer/recruiter, I decided to stay at least for a few months (and start looking several weeks before the end of my supposedly “extendable” contract).

These experiences have left me a little wary of contract work. It seems that if I land a bad contract, that my recruiter would take a hit (reputation or otherwise) if I quickly found another job. But on the other hand, the client company won’t think twice of ending the contract early for any reason.

I know that the counter argument to this is “maybe your recruiter shouldn’t have put you into a crappy assignment”… either way, it seems that since I am relying on him to provide me with work, that I should try to not damage his reputation with client companies. I’m basically brand new to contracting (these were my first two contracts) so these concerns are new to me.

TLDR: Is contract work, by its very nature, largely unstable? Am I worried too much about my recruiter? Should I be quicker to start looking for a new job even after just weeks at a new company (when the environment seems unstable)? If so, do I look through my recruiter or just find another position by any means necessary?

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closed as off-topic by gnat, MichaelT, Snowman, Bart van Ingen Schenau, durron597 Aug 21 '15 at 14:45

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@All, my question is less about just getting a job and more about the ins and outs of contract work. I'm not clueless to the benefit of networking and have been actively doing so. The attitude here seems to be that it is easy to find a job - you just have to go out and look. While technology workers have it better than most, the U.S. has a high unemployment rate, and my particular area is much higher than the national average. – jlnorsworthy Mar 13 '11 at 2:03

Is contract work, by its very nature, largely unstable?

No, it's not - contract are only as good as the people behind them.

Am I worried too much about my recruiter?


Should I be quicker to start looking for a new job even after just weeks at a new company?

No, focus on the gig.

If so, do I look through my recruiter or just find another position by any means necessary?

Recruiter are a waste of time, but that's just based on my on experience -- I'm 100% sure there are great recruiter out there. If one just placed you, and their commission is you sticking around... why in the world would they spend time placing you at another gig, they've already made the sell.

TLDR: You're the problem -- which is great news, since it's in your control to fix how people are dealing with you, and how you're picking the people to deal with.


@jlnorsworthy: "Around here" being Sacramento, CA -- and you only need one gig, right? Focus on networking with people, going to meetups, knowing the people you'll be working with.

You might also try job search engines like or

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Focus on the gig... but that was the problem with my last assignment. Despite my belief that it wasn't a very good place to be working, I stayed anyway. As far as recruiters go, it seems that plenty of companies around here only use recruiters/staffing agencies, so you have to use them, or decrease your options. – jlnorsworthy Mar 12 '11 at 2:48
@jlnorsworthy not if you network more like updated above. This will help you find the jobs you want and work with people you like. There are politics no matter where you go. You just have to play the game right. You can't just sit around and wait for something to drop in your lap, go out and grab it by the horns. – Matt Mar 12 '11 at 16:01

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