A Little Advice From Mike and Lee

Posted April 20th, 2010 by

Go have a look at what Mike Murray and Lee Kushner have to say on what I endearingly refer to as “Stupid Contractor Tricks”.

Now I know Mike and Lee are supposed to be tactful, and they do a really good job at that.  This post is not about tact.  =)

You need to step back a bit and understand the business model for contractors.  Because their margins are low and fixed, it means a couple of things:

  • You have large-volume contracts where you still have the same margin but more total net profit.
  • You can’t keep a bench of people off-project because it rapidly eats into your margin.  For some companies, this means that anybody off-project for 2 weeks or more gets laid off.
  • The name of the game is to win the proposal, get the work, then figure out how to staff it from rolling people onto the new project and bringing in new hires.  This is vastly inefficient.
  • New hires can also be to backfill on contracts where you’ve moved key people off to work something new.

So on to my advice in this particular scenario that Mike and Lee discuss:  Run away as fast as you can from this offer.

There are a couple of other things that I’m thinking about here:

  • A recruiter or HR person from Company A left for Company B and took their Rolodex of candidates.  Hence the surprise offer.  Either that, or Company A is now a sub for Company B or Company A is just the “staffing firm” getting paid $500/signed offer letter and doing business in bulk.
  • The Government usually requires “Commitment Letters” from the people that have resumes submitted on a proposal.  The reason for this is that the Government realizes what kind of jackassery goes on involving staffing, and requiring a signed letter gives the candidate an opportunity to decide up front.
  • If you sign an offer like this, you’re letting down the rest of the InfoSec community that are contractors by letting the recruiters commoditize what we do.  It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the Government.

Other stupid contractor tricks:

  • Signing an exclusivity letter that they are the only people who can submit your resume on a contract.
  • Making you sign an offer letter then letting the offer linger for 6+ months while you’re unemployed and could really use the ability to move on to a different job.
  • Shopping resumes for people you have never met and/or do not intend to make an offer letter to.
  • Changing the job completely after you have accepted the offer.
  • …and you probably have more that you can put into the comments section below.  =)


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  1.  Tweets that mention NOVABLOGGER: A Little Advice From Mike and Lee -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by novainfosec. novainfosec said: #NOVABLOGGER: A Little Advice From Mike and Lee http://bit.ly/cLslAr http://j.mp/nispblog [...]

  2.  Mini-me Says:

    Nice post! Some of those tricks you mention are the reasons why I got out of the contractor biz….

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