Saturday, October 1, 2011

Contracting is for malaria

I'm noticing a pattern. I begin to hate my life and start searching for jobs. I become desperate! I will do anything for a new job! I put my resume up everywhere, apply left and right, and then when the offers start to come in, I get cold feet.

Many job offers never pass the DIRQ (Do I really qualify?) test. Flattering as it may be that you want to hire me as a Web developer, I am not a Web developer. I don't know Java from Bali. I don't know Python from Cobra. If you ask me about Oracle, I'll be just as cryptic as one. Oh, and no, I don't want to sell insurance. No matter how much my experience as a designer qualifies me for it.

So after deleting all the unwanted job offers from my inbox, I get on to replying to the recruiters who remain. Some of them are very up-front about the details of the position. Others are as informative as, "My client is in need of a Web designer. Please tell me a good time to call you, so we can discuss."

And so we discuss. Which is a big waste of everyone's time.

"This is for a position in Reston, Virginia."

Stop right there. I'm not driving an hour and a half to work every morning!

"This job is a three-month contract."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. What happens when I get dumped after those three months?

"But it has the potential to turn into a permanent hire."

Or it doesn't.

Sometimes I make it through an entire interview. One of those hair-raising interviews where you think you're just going to talk about how great you are, and you end up having to answer a pop quiz about semantic markup, the box model, and how to stop propagation in jQuery. I actually, surprisingly, made a good enough impression in that interview that the client was interested in hiring (er, contracting with) me.

And so the next day I got a call from the recruiter. "I told them you were available immediately, so if they choose you for the position, would you be able to start tomorrow?"

Um, no! You saw my resume. You saw I'm already working 2 jobs. I even discussed my current employment situation with you yesterday! I need to provide a minimum of 2 weeks' notice.

"Oh," says the recruiter, sounding surprised. "Well, they may be interested in hiring you anyway. I will let you know by the end of today."

He didn't.

And that was OK. I had totally changed my mind. I didn't want that 3-month contract for that job that would require me to work in a team! We all know I'm not a team player. Put me in a room with more than one other person in it for more than one hour, and my head might explode! Or at least I'll have an anxiety attack.

My problem is not that I'm too picky. It's just that I have too much to lose! I heart my nonprofit. I would give my soul to my nonprofit if only they could afford to pay me for it. But such is not the nature of nonprofits. So, much like an old spinster, I'm still looking for "the one:"

a) It is part-time enough that I can do it and work for my nonprofit at the same time.
b) It is so awesome that it makes me actually want to abandon my beloved nonprofit, rather than making me heartsick at the thought.

Am I a sentimental old fool? Well, yes. But I just realized I have a perfectly practical reason not to leave the nonprofit for just any old job. And I made this discovery just in the nick of time. The next day, I found I had a voicemail from the recruiter, telling me the employer had actually accepted my terms. It figures. Only the jobs you don't want keep chasing you down like the hounds of hell.

So I called him back (on a Saturday, because I am also still a coward) and told him I couldn't accept. And I told him why: My nonprofit job just happens to pay 100% of my health insurance. So quitting it to take a temporary job with no benefits would be a pretty bad business decision--even if the temporary job pays a little better.

We'll see what unfolds next in this saga. Perhaps the employer will offer a permanent position and a higher pay rate. And then, I'll have to come up with some other reason why I don't want the job. Funny how I feel like I have to use all my wiles just to avoid getting hired!