I just went through a phone screen with a TEK systems recruiter who treated me like this was my first job. I'm pretty sure it was his. Thought I would share this email I sent him to see how many agree.

As the contract I am currently working on comes to an end, I spend at a minimum 30 minutes everyday searching Dice.com and other sites for my next assignment.

I read the job descriptions posted carefully to see how many agencies are posting for the same position. The job descriptions may very considerably. Only by reading multiple descriptions I can get an idea on whether this will be a good fit or not. That’s the most important objective at this stage. I don’t want to 1) get into an assignment that’s over my head, 2) get involved with a company that doesn’t know what they are doing, or 3) get involved with a small time contracting company that may be a sub-contractor’s sub-contractor.

If the add is full of technical garbage I move on. I don’t understand why contracting companies insist on rewriting a technical job description that they know nothing about.

Once I think this opportunity may be a go I pick up the phone and talk to the contracting company. A couple of rules here:

If I don’t get a live body responding to my voice messages in two days I move on to the next contracting company.

If I’m speaking to someone overseas through a poor internet phone service, I hang up.

If the recruiter talks down to me during the first call it’s a very good indication what that company thinks of their contractors. I move onto the next company.

I don’t expect the recruiter to know more about the technology than me. When a recruiter attempts to screen me with a few technical buzz words, it’s generally an insult to my intelligence. I work very hard and spend a great deal of money trying to keep up with the technology I specialize in. My resume and the technical screen by the client should speak for itself. If the recruiter talks down to me or treats me like this is my first job out of college I’m going to push back hard.

I expect to provide a current resume, and references. Normally the references are to verify that I can work well with others and know the technology.

I expect that a background test of some type will be done, and I expect that drug tests may be required. I’ve worked on assignments with contractors who didn’t show up for work, or quickly showed that the technology was way over their head. It’s embarrassing to all concerned, and they are usually walked out of the building very quickly.

I expect to discuss rates at this point although not specific, but ballpark numbers. I know that it is the recruiter’s job to bill the client as much as they can and pay me as little as they think they can get away with.

I expect a low ball offer. If it’s too low I will hang up. I was offered $35 an hour from a bank in downtown Chicago a few months ago. End of story.

Rates are a touchy subject amongst contractors. I know Tek System’s contract specifically states that I am not to discuss rates with other contractors, but somehow it always comes up. Not specifics but enough information is shared so that you know if you are the fool who accepted the low ball offer. If it’s me, I start posting my resume that day and leave as soon as an offer is in hand. In eight years as a contractor I’ve only left two contracts before they were scheduled to end and both were because I felt I was being paid less than what I was worth.

After this initial screen, I expect a phone screen or face to face interview with the client. This is my opportunity to talk with the technical staff to see if they have an idea how they are going to deploy my talents. I’ve walked away from a number of offers because I didn’t want to get into the middle of a technical pissing contest on how to implement the technology.

If things don’t work out I expect to be told that as soon as the contracting company becomes aware of it. If I hear nothing in a couple of days I’m looking for another assignment. I also make note of that recruiters name. I know things move very fast, but it’s just common courtesy and an indication of how the firm treats their contractors.

If an offer is forth coming and if the recruiter starts changing the rates dramatically I will push back. After all this effort this is not the point to low ball a candidate, but I’m surprised at how often it happens.

After the paperwork is done I expect to hear little from the contracting firm until they notify me of my end date. I will do my best to get the job done. Other than a reminder to get a time sheet in, all I expect of the contracting company is to insure that I get paid on time. Nothing will sour a relationship faster than me having to call and ask where my pay check is. It turns from a working relationship to one of debtor and creditor. On the assignment I’m currently on I was hours away from walking out the door because they hadn’t paid be after 6 weeks of work.

With a minimal amount of instructions I get to work at the client’s site. I provide my own office supplies. I’m invited to very few meetings. I don’t get invited to lunches and there won’t be much interaction with the staff. Other than the people I will have direct contact with I’m not introduced to many people who work there. I am not aware of the organizational chart nor do I have a place on it. I have no supervisor or manger nor am I aware of the individual’s titles in my environment.

Most often I work isolated, in a lab with multiple PC’s off the company’s network. I’m usually provided an email account and share a phone. I’m expected to arrive and leave on time, sit down and get to work. I’m a disposal employee that can be walked out the door if I don’t complete the work assigned to me, if the budget evaporates, if the project gets done sooner than expected, or if somebody doesn’t like the color of shirt I’m wearing.

Only on rare occasions is my opinion asked in the first couple of weeks. I only give my opinion with forethought of how it will be received. Even though I may be 100% technically correct, if I upset the wrong person and I run the very real risk of getting walked out the door. I’m surprised at how often someone attempts to draw me into departmental political in fighting.

This is a short term relationship treat all with respect and hopefully some good will come of it.