My last employer let me go due to financial reasons. They had too many people and not enough projects, so me and a number of my colleagues were forced to leave.

I was sad to leave but I found a job pretty soon and was ready to move on. Unfortunately, I'm not happy where I am and I've already started looking for another job.

So a few weeks ago I got a call from one of ex colleagues saying that they needed people and that they thought of me because I would hit the ground running whereas if they hired someone new they'd have to train them.

I'm torn here. I really would like to return as I like the place. However, and this is the main issue for me, it wouldn't be a permanent position. Initially I was told it could be a 6-month contract, but with no promise of a renewal.

I'm in the Junior / Semi-Senior range. I am afraid that once my contract ends I will be jobless and not appealing to employers.


  • How should I respond? Would this be a good move for me?
  • If the contract does end in 6 months, how do I phrase it to prospective employers? Is working in a per-contract basis common in the software dev. industry?
  • Psychologically speaking, the fact that it's possible that it could all end (yet again) once the contract ends makes me think that I could be fearful the entire time. Does this sound reasonable? How should I cope with this?
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    I've been working on contracts for the better part of 20 years. It doesn't seem to have caused me any issues. In fact, far from it. – Jane S Feb 2 '16 at 1:54
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    I am not sure there is such a thing as Junior/Semi-Senior. There are many years of experience difference between a junior and senior. – sevenseacat Feb 2 '16 at 10:37
  • Ask for more money and return :) – i486 Jul 21 '16 at 7:59

Considering your old employer probably let you go only reluctantly, and you liked the job, it seems best from the available information to not hold grudges and go back. They're sure to appreciate it.


If you don't like your current work and like the old one, you should consider taking the contract. Here are some points to look at:

  1. You didn't mention where you work but if it's in an at-will state, your current job can be terminated at any time, so you could be jobless in 6 months even if you don't take the contract. (On the other hand, your current job could go on much longer than that but you don't like it anyway and would likely leave.) If you take the contract and get near the end, you can have a chat with the manager you work with about the possibility of extending the contract and if it looks like it won't happen, you can simply start looking for a new job / contract. You'll have the past 6 months as extra experience to show during your search.

  2. There's nothing wrong with having a 6-month contract on your resume (at least I've never notices that it would be). If your resume states that it was a fixed-term contract, I doubt if any employers would even ask about it - there are many contractors who do short term projects and then look for another one.

  3. Payments: make sure you first figure out how much you want to get paid, including benefits (that you won't get, like vacation, medical insurance, etc.) and taxes (the US has a self-employment tax for contractors on top of regular taxes). This may vary from state to state so you need to check the various laws and regulations of your country. Whatever these are, this calculation will give you an hourly fee that you should shoot for.

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    To further this There's nothing wrong with having a 6-month contract on your resume as a junior developer out of university I worked a series of 3 month contracts and have never had any problems with them being on my CV – iamgory Feb 2 '16 at 10:30
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    I have done a lot of contracting, and I like to compare short jobs to hiring a plumber. No one would ask a plumber why short jobs were not long or indefinite. When the job's done, you move on to the next. – donjuedo Jul 18 '16 at 20:30

When woking as a contractor, charge a rate high enough to (a) make up for all the permanent-employee benefits you won't be getting, and (b) build up enough savings to carry you in reasonable comfort until you can get the next contracting (or long-term) gig lined up. Doubling what they woukd pay a permanent employee to do the same work is a reasonable minimal starting point; that's close to what their real burden rate for that employee would be. You might be able to get more than that because you're offering them the convenience of not having to pay severance when the term ends, and because you;re coming in with some specialized knowledge about their needs so there's less training delay.

If they aren't willing to pay enough to make you comfortable with the costs, don't do it.

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