Skip to main content

The Wonderful World of Contracting: Its Not Personal. Its Business.

· 5 min read
Ron Amosa
Platform Security Engineer @ Salesforce U.S.

You work for a company. It's a business. It's trying to make money.

And that's fine.

You are trading your time for money.

That's also fine.

The contract will spell out what the expectations are, the conditions, the rates.

And then you conduct yourself as professionally as humanly possible. Within the parameters you've agreed to...

You can make friends at work. You can even be friends with the Owners, Founders, CEO of the business.

That's fine.

But never get it twisted that you owe the company more than the transaction you make for the rate that you're on.


If you're a permanent worker, it may be slightly different of course

Terms & Conditions#

As a contractor you get

  • no pay on public holidays (or any day you dont work)
  • no annual leave
  • no sick days
  • no health benefits
  • no kiwisaver contributions

And the notice period can be as short as 1 week.

Yes, one week.

They give you your notice, you are gone. In one week.

And this is by no means a complaint. I chose this life so I fully accept this is what comes with the territory.

But this is a two way street. I get paid only for the hours I work and no more. No extra "employee" benefits, no sick days, no public holidays.

If I work myself to the point of being unwell, there is no sick day for me. There are no health benefits to look after me as I recover from a stressful 50 hour week. I don't work, I don't get paid.

So, please understand, if you think a few 'extra' hours here and there are harmless, those hours are risking my side of the line for your profit.

Put like that it hardly seems fair to expect a 'buffer' around your profit making activities while there's no buffer around my health & well-being right?

Money's Worth#

Now, if like me, you find yourself in contracting because you like doing good work, and getting compensated accordingly.

You're not there to rip the company off.

Quite the opposite.

As a contractor you're trying to do your best work all the time. Why? Well, I can't speak for other contractors but I get a real sense of fulfillment from doing good work. I love being helpful to my team and I genuinely try to be of value to the folks who want to hire me.

Because you're only as good as your reputation (think work references). You want to be someone a company has confidence in paying contractor money to. Of course you need the skills and experience but in my opinion (and also one of my mums favourite sayings)

"A good name is better than a pretty face" - My Mum.

You want to be a good contractor so the company will keep you on, or hire you again in future, or recommend you to your next contract.

Healthy Relationships#

While I'm relatively new to contracting, I think having a good contracting relationship with the company is like any healthy relationship:

  • You have open and honest communication.
  • You make sure you are getting your needs met.
  • You set healthy boundaries
  • You do the work you both agreed to do to make it a good relationship
  • You spend time working on making it a good relationship (goes back to communication, but also professional courtesies etc)

And like all healthy relationships there is some flexibility. So you can work a little pro bono if you're so inclined. It's not to be expected of you and both parties should know it's not the norm.

But you can work together to make it work for both parties.

Mercenaries are People too#

It might seem impersonal, and mercenary-like. And it is in a way. But that's the contract part. It's in black and white, and both sides signed the paper.

But that doesn't mean you have to be a dick, or rude and unhelpful about it. You still behave like a decent and helpful human being, who just happens to have a contract with the company to both adhere to certain things.

That's it. The contract is the contract. But the person fulfilling the contract - is just that. A person.

So be a good person. And work a good contract. With a company that understands and respects this relationship.

It's not personal. You already know this - it's business.


The big caveat here of course is that everyone's situation is different, and to be able to contract and think like this is a very priviledged position to be in. This is just my take of a life where you and the company are not confused about the relationship right from the beginning, and don't try to make it something it's not.