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My contract is going to be up in about 1 month. Since this is my first contracting gig, I don't know how to go about this. Some of my friends have said to ask my boss next wk to give them time to do the paperwork, etc. to extend my contract here since I'm not finished with my project yet.

On the flip side, since I'm not finished and therefore have nothing to show for my value to the company, I don't think I should ask or if I'm in any position to ask about a contact extension. I've been working pretty hard, even working OT (which I didn't charge to the company) to get this project done but it's still not done.

I think part of the reason I'm not finished yet is I was asked to help with other tasks that weren't directly associated with my project. I sent a weekly status report to my manager outlining what I did for the week but I didn't break down to the hour or minute for each task.

It might also be because they guessed the project would take 6 months for someone to complete when it should take 9 or 12 months, so their planning was off. They may have been calculating against someone who has worked at the company for 10 yrs, knows the product inside out, and is as smart as Thomas Edison, which would be an unreasonable estimate for a new person, even if the worker was Einstein.

It might also be I'm a little slower b/c some of the tech I used I'm not at an expert level so that slowed me down a little.

In any case, what is the right approach? Get some prototype working to show my progress before asking or listen to my friends and ask ASAP so there's no uncertainty? Or third, wait for them to come to me?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Rememeber if you don't ask, you are at risk of finding out the day your contract expires that is not renewed (Managers hate to give out bad news and may delay as long as possible). If that is the case, wouldn't you rather know when you stil lhave time to search for another job? – HLGEM Jun 28 '13 at 21:17
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Communication is a good thing. They should not be surprised by where you are on the project, which means you should be keeping them in the loop. You should not be surprised if your contract is renewed or not, which means you should be talking to them. Your goal is helping them to get this project done, so start talking to them so both of you know where each other is!

And, if you are not going to be done and they are not going to renew, make sure that it is left in such a way that another person can pick it up and keep going and using your progress. That too requires communication, both in what they consider most important, and what is necessary to know in a hand-off.

This also makes you look more professional (because you are), and are thus more likely to be retained.

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Story: read into it what you may....

I was hired to do a six week project demonstrating 'Rapid Application Development', in this case using VB3, in 1994 at a local Air Force Base. The government contractor had been instructed to hire someone with VB experience, and they asked me point blank 'Do you know Visual Basic?' The literal answer was Yes, in that I had created a project in VB1 to print polynomial spline curves on T-Shirt stencils.

Of course, at that point, I had been making a living as a programmer since 1979, including rounds of experience with C, Microsoft Access, dBase, FoxPro, various reporting tools, and assemblers from IBM 360, Datapoint 2200, Z80, and 80186. It took about three days for a large number of people to find useful things for me to do. I fixed the project manager's Access programs and reports, fixed another Access project that was suffering a severe performance issue, taught another contractor how to normalize databases, and so forth and so on. It became clear that I could do more than simply write VB3, I could figure out the business processes that the client organization needed, and as a result they decided convert the 'demo' into a 'production project'. The 'six week project' lasted from 1994 to 1998, although I worked for another organization in 1997 doing rocket science (LabView).

You might be thinking that you are to finish a 'project' as per the contract: your employers are more likely simply viewing you as a productive resource and value your ability to fill other roles as needed. In short, whether you 'finished on time' or not should be the least of your worries, what you really want to know is whether they think you can do whatever you're asked. If that answer is yes, they will probably renew without giving it second thought.

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I would say that you should have a little something to show them. I would say that you also would want to ask when they aren't so stressed, like a Friday maybe, or during or right after lunch. It all depends but I don't think you should wait to long, but also don't do it without anything to show.

Also, the way you ask it is important, don't just be like "Hey so can you extend my contract?" Do something more like "Hey what other projects do you guys have coming up?" Insert status update on your project, then say "I really enjoy working here do you think you guys have some more work for me to do?"

EDIT: Asking about it this way eases into what you are trying to get out of the conversation. Just being blunt isn't always going to work. This is a delicate situation and you want to handle it as such. If you ease into it then you can control the conversation as opposed to just asking out front and you might catch your boss off guard and ruin the one chance you have of getting a good answer.

  • I really like the last part of your answer, do you think you could expand on it a bit to explain why this is a better approach? – Rhys Jun 29 '13 at 11:32

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