Employment filter: Contract or back to salary
October 3, 2018 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I got caught in a department reshuffle in Company A over the summer, and was let go with severance. I applied for another role in Company A after leaving, and started the interview process for it. Before receiving an offer from the first company, I was offered and accepted a multi-year W2 contract from Company B, in a different industry. The hourly rate is significantly more than my salary at Company A.

I like Company B, I like the hiring manager. If I can figure out the industry, I will have expanded my skill-set significantly. Right now, I'm not adding value, because it is a very steep learning curve. Company B does seem to recognize this. They do flip contractors to full-time, but there is no guarantee of this happening.

Company A has come back with their "pre-offer." I was candid about the situation, saying I'd accepted a new position (I didn't specify that it was a contract), and that I thought I was obligated to at least give it a shot. They understood, but also let me know they will meet my new base salary, and give me a promotion.

Company A has great benefits, and a great culture. I bear them no ill will for letting me go - it's a massive organization, and this kind of thing happens - I wouldn't expect it to happen again. Company B is also a massive organization. Great people, great culture.

I'm torn. The job at Company A would still be challenging and fun, but have the comfort of my known reputation, my network, and my institutional knowledge. But... it would be a jerk move to leave my new contract after a few weeks. And I don't want to be blackballed by the contract organization. The recruiters have a close relationship with Company B, and I'd hate to let them down. Also, I've already told Company A I feel an obligation to Company B, but that we could touch base if they hadn't found the right candidate.

HR, recruiters, tech execs, etc., please give me your insight. This is just below director level and a strategic type of job that typically does not have direct reports.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would stay with Company B and expand your skill set. If B doesn’t work out or they flip you, you can re-apply to A, which obviously still wants to hire you. It’s great that you bear A no ill will, but laying you off and then trying to rehire you is honestly pretty stupid, and if they lose access to your skills it would serve them right and maybe they would do that less in the future.
posted by permiechickie at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would never ever stay in a contract role when there was a reasonably equivalent salary position available. My (large) company hires contractors, and - as contractors go - we treat them well. But they aren't treated like employees. They are the first people we show the door if we have financial problems (even just a one-quarter dip). They aren't invited to company parties. We aren't allowed to give them performance reviews. We often are able to convert contractors to full time, but not always, and if we don't have the budget then once 2 years are up they are gone (for at least 6 months). I can't give my contractors the time flexibility I can give my full-time employees. The benefits aren't comparable (our contractors do get health insurance and some sick/vacation leave from their contracting company, but they don't get 401k, they don't get parental leave, and their tax situation is different).

I expect that if one of my contractors is offered an FTE role, they will leave. I would! And I harbor them no ill will for that.
posted by brainmouse at 9:10 AM on October 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

Any company that views a contractor negatively for taking an FTE role (any FTE role) at another company at any time is not a company you want to work for.

I think you have an option in the middle - tell Company B to immediately convert you to a FTE role or else you'll take the FTE role at Company A.
posted by saeculorum at 9:23 AM on October 3, 2018 [16 favorites]

Rule of thumb is you want 50% more in salary at a contract role to make it worth the risk, lesser benefits, etc. Obviously you will need to adjust depending on the particulars.
posted by sid at 9:53 AM on October 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

(also, I'll reiterate a standard note I make in these sorts of discussions - it is much better to leave a company after a couple weeks than a couple months. Most employees are unproductive for their first few months of employment. So, from a managerial perspective, it's preferred to have the employee spend the least amount of time unproductive if they're going to leave. Further, if it's really only a few weeks, it's distinctly possible there is another candidate in the hiring pipeline that was rejected that they might be able to bring onboard as a replacement quickly without a new search.)
posted by saeculorum at 10:12 AM on October 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

I’m a recruiter and would also never *ever* remain a contractor when you have the opportunity for a full time role with benefits. This is a bigger deal than you’ve articulated above—company B can tell you this afternoon hat things aren’t working out and there you go. Also, benefits are EXPENSIVE. Building up your reputation from scratch is also a large hurdle to clear.

TL;DR: go back to company A. It will also look really good on your resume. Longevity is always a huge plus.
posted by ohyouknow at 10:21 AM on October 4, 2018

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