There are three types of contracting companies. The first knows the skills you bring to the job are their source of their revenue. They appreciate your efforts to make them and yourself look good. They work with you, knowing that after this assignment they may be able to place you at another. These are the larger firms. Their training in getting the most out of the client and giving you the least may appear adversarial but “it’s only business”.

The seconds’ primary concern is with their relationship with the client. This project is one of many they hope to land with this client. You’re nothing more than a “Resource” in this project plan. Don’t bother asking for intervention with concerns you have with the client. You won’t get any help. Don’t bother trying to contact anybody at this firm on a nice summer day. They’re playing golf with a client.

The third is becoming more popular as ‘Start-Up’ contracting companies offer clients lower rates. Their primary concern is their margin. Either through a relationship with the client or primary contractor they have an opportunity to fill an open position. If you’re the resource they are looking for, watch your back because you’re on your own. They will try transfer all business risks to you. If they are getting paid by the client every 30 days, it could be 60 days before you see your first pay check. If the client won’t pay for your travel expenses for a face to face interview, it’s going to come out of your pocket. They are not governed by any corporate standards or best practices. This means that what ever they want goes in their mind. They don’t have the resources to afford a lawyer so make sure you have one when they ask you to sign a contract.

My last two assignments have been with ‘Start-up’ firms. I have had to pay for travel expenses, beg for pay checks, been given contracts assembled from a web site and even have had a pay check bounce! My advice is to know who you’re dealing with. Read and understand the employment contract. If you have a gut feeling that you could come out of the deal on the short end, walk away.