by Steven J. Owens (unless otherwise attributed)
Here are some of my standard answers to frequently asked questions for recruiters and job shops I work with.
FAQ 0: When should I submit your resume for a job?
Always ask me before submitting my resume. Absolutely never, at any time, submit my resume to a company before contacting me and asking me for permission to do so. I deal with many firms in different markets and geographical areas. The only way to avoid double-submissions and wasted time and opportunities is to check with me before submitting the resume.
FAQ 1: What kinds of jobs?
I'm interested in contract projects, not in permanent or career positions. Generally I'm not interested in temp-to-hire positions. I will be (and have been) happy to contract on such a project but only with a clear understanding with the client that I am not interested in long-term positions.
There are a few exceptions, for startups or other technically interesting positions, for example positions at a firm developing off-the-shelf software for commercial resale (not integration or custom IT consulting firms).
FAQ 2: Rates?
My current rate in my current location for W-2 contract work is $80/hour. This will be adjusted upward depending on the region the contract is at (i.e. don't expect to pay those rates for contracting in NYC, SF, or LA).
For contracts which are extremely interesting, I am willing to consider lowering my rate. Contact me to discuss specific projects and what "interesting" means. It usually depends on what kind of software is being developed (see FAQ 5), and the size and culture of the company.
FAQ 3: Contract Duration?
In general I prefer 6-month contracts, or even shorter. I find that after 6 months in a typical contract, I need to work on higher-paced, more cutting-edge projects for a while to regain my competitive edge.
FAQ 4: What does "web development" mean?
Applicable keywords are:
Java J2EE (aka JSP & Servlets & EJB) web applications, and web services or SOAP (but only in a Java context)
I have had repeated calls from contract shops that want to send me out for interviews for projects like the above. On occasion the job description has been inaccurately represented, and the wasted time and energy annoyed the clients tremendously (I wasn't too pleased either). I cannot represent a shop well in such interviews. This is extremely damaging to the shop's reputation with its clients, and with contractors. About the only thing I can do in such a situation that will not cause further damage is stand up, shake the interviewer's hand and say goodbye.
Often situations like this arise because of multiple layers of management and insulation between the team leader and the recruiter. It's best in such situations, assuming the resume has been submitted and the hiring company has expressed interest, to arrange a short phone interview or e-mail exchange with the team leader, or to get the team leader - the person who will be doing the technical interview - to send a brief description of the position so I can review it and prepare for the interview.
FAQ 5: What are you looking for?
Specifically, I am interested in UNIX-based web development projects. Multidisciplinary projects involving Java, perl, and other UNIX-based web technologies are particularly interesting. Projects that are focused on developing products for commercial resale as off-the-shelf software (not deployable technologies for an IT shop, but actual resale to external clients) are interesting. Projects that are focused on developing new Internet technologies are interesting.