How do I ask my current company how long they want to keep me around? I'm an independent contractor. My contract is about to renew they confirmed they want to continue with me, but they are also bringing in someone new and asking me to train him.
"Hello X, you mentioned earlier that the plan is to extend my contract, but since the deadline is coming up I'd like to make a more formal agreement. Without it I will be forced to look for employment elsewhere since I cannot afford to risk being without work."
The key is to avoid any accusatory language and to make it clear that it's about you wanting to minimize a risk. It's not that you don't trust their word that they will extend your contract, you just can't take the any risks, no matter how small.
I'm always looking to get an renewal in writing at least two weeks before it finishes. If they can't guarantee an extension, then start looking elsewhere.
One company offered to extend me at 3pm on my last day but, it was way too late and I'd already accepted another contract. It's a harsh industry, but you've got to look out for yourself.
The fact that they're bringing in someone for you to train up might suggest that you have one (maybe two) renewals left... but that's contracting, unfortunately!
As an independent contractor, you cannot afford to be without work, so if it isn’t confirmed in writing, you will have to look for work elsewhere.
It’s your decision to tell them that if you don’t get an extension in writing, you might suddenly stop working for them, or not. I think it’s better to tell them that your finances don’t allow you to take a risk. Whether you tell them or not, if you don’t have a contract extension in writing, you look for a new position, and if you find something that you like, then you leave.
It is quite possible that some person really wants you to continue working, but doesn’t have the power to get the right person to sign the contract. In that case you need to give them arguments to tell their boss “I need X, and if that contract isn’t signed in time, he or she might just leave, and that will cost us lots of money. “
I think everyone agrees that you need to get your contracts and confirmations in writing, and that you need to be responsible to yourself for making sure you have work. Here's how to approach the conversation to clarify your situation (you have confirmation but it looks like they may be preparing to replace you).
Make a short 15 minute appointment with your manager, the one you report directly to. Let him/her know it's about your contract status. You should start the conversation with something like this:
As you know, as a contractor I always need to be mindful of my future. I am happy working here and I am willing to stay on for as long as you need me. Once we get Mary fully trained, what are your expectations for my role here?
Let the manager answer. If it's an answer you like, great. If not, too bad, but also great. You're looking for clarity either way. They may want to transition you to some other task or role. If it looks like they won't need you anymore, you can approach it like this:
Great! I appreciate the clarity. Let's talk timelines and set some goals for Mary's training that will get her up to speed as fast as possible and at the same time let me plan for my future.
Of course, use your own words and personality, but keep a tone of working with the manager to help meet the needs of the company.
I would leave out any talk of personal finances and whether or not you can afford to be out of work for any period of time. It just doesn't come across as professional.