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I live in a country where fixed positions are the norm (New Zealand).

A company has advertised a fixed position, and they want me to come in for an interview. They've also asked if I'd consider a 12 month contract.

Just wondering what reasoning a company might have for doing things this way.

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    They want to get a 1-year project completed and don't expect to have any work after that period. – Garrison Neely May 1 '14 at 22:34
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    Garrison's speculation sounds like it's probably the correct reason. That said, showing self confidence while discussing this option "I do good work, I can easily find something in a year if this project wraps up and I'm not renewed... but you'll be wanting me for the next project anyway" is probably going to make you attractive to an interviewer. And do be mindful of the value of the benefits associated with a fixed position and make sure they aren't trying to rob you of those by offering you contract work at the same pay rate. – Ben Voigt May 1 '14 at 22:50
  • For those with no experience of NZ, it has the equivalent of "fire at will" laws that afflict much of the US. – Móż May 4 '14 at 3:22
  • @Mσᶎ Sorry if this is generally common knowledge, what are "fire at will" laws? – DoubleDouble Jul 2 '15 at 20:16
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    "At Will" means just that. The employer has the ability to just say "you're fired" with no reason and you're out the door. Otherwise they would need to show misconduct, inability to do the job (and steps taken to correct etc). – The Wandering Dev Manager Jul 2 '15 at 20:21
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You could ask what is the reason for 12 months. Possibilities are many:

  • They have grant and it pays only 12 months. You could ask if there is possibility of renewal, and if the quality of your work can influence the chance of renewal.
  • This is how they do "contract to permanent". If they like you, they will convert you to permanent position. I've seen positions like "6 months contract, conversion to permanent likely". 12 months is a bit long for this approach.

It is hard to guess if person is good fit for a team by talking for few hours. So if it is contract and is not extended, at the end you are technically not fired, and you know exactly how you need to time your next job search. Win-win for everyone.

Accepting 12 months you make risk of hiring you less for employer, so chance of getting offer is higher, IMHO. It also depends how much you like the job, how valuable the skills you learn here will be in your next job search, and what other offers you can get.

Above might be more USA-centric, and somehow common in USA. Customary hiring procedures might depend on the local markets, and on the situation on market. Is it buyer or seller market? Is unemployment so low, and labor so scarce, that companies have to offer good positions to get decent response for a job ad? Or is it high unemployment/market is saturated with given skill, and companies can afford to be picky?

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My experience of this in New Zealand was that it usually indicates a company that wants to avoid paying the various taxes and levies that go with hiring a full time staff member, and is often an indication that they are not offering much job security. However it can just mean that they're small and don't want the paperwork hassles, but are otherwise good to work for. Remember that it's very easy for most companies to hire you then dump you, so the benefit of making you a contractor is limited to paperwork and honesty.

How I tell is looking at the pay. If the position is worth, say $60k, and they're offering $40/hr, they're probably decent people. But if they're offering $30/hr, it doesn't matter what they tell you because they're trying to cut costs at your expense.

I've been through this a couple of times and the hassles of working for the bad sort are hard to overstate. At worst you'll be treated as a casual "that task has been delayed, take a few days off" (unpaid, of course, you're a contractor), and you may be paid on invoice the same way any other supplier is paid... late.

The decent ones have been great, though. They'll put you on PAYE (ie, they do all the paperwork) and pay you an hourly rate that gives you annual and sick leave (etc). And they'll generally keep you as informed as they are about how long there is work for - it's not uncommon to have them say "if we get this job we'll want to keep you on for however long it takes" or "after this job we won't have work for you". One like this kept pestering me for years to work remotely for them on weekends as well as whatever full time work I had. Probably because I accepted the work a few times :)

  • ^ Moz, I've actually heard a good rule of thumb for contracting is that a 'good' rate of pay for contracting positions is roughly your annual, full-time salary divided by 1000 (Which comes out to roughly double what your hourly rate would have been in that case). Wanted to tack that on as you referenced 40/hr for $60k; in my opinion that's an acceptable number but I'd actually look higher, towards $60/hr – schizoid04 Jul 26 '17 at 21:34

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