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Thread: Job shenanigans

  1. #1

    Job shenanigans

    I've found myself in a strange situation, and I'm not too sure how to handle it. Background first:

    I work in IT as a developer/consultant. What I do is really niche; there aren't many people who have the same skills, and equally aren't that many places who are demanding them.

    The end client outsources all their IT. I have been contracting to the IT supplier for the past 12 years - it tended to either be 12 months or 6 months at a time, the last one being August to July.

    The IT contract was up for tender this year, and the current outsourcer has lost the contract. The new provider is due to take over in November. As my contract was up at the end of July, I was given a new contract directly with the end client for 6 months. This isn't unprecedented - there has previously been a contractor in this role who billed directly to the end client, and worked quite happily alongside the IT outsourcer. There is one other guy on my direct team - he is a permanent employee of the outsourcer, and has the option to TUPE across to the new company. He's made it pretty clear he intends to do this.

    This week, a job advert has turned up on the internet. It's very clear that it's my job. If the description wasn't enough, one of the recruitment agencies was stupid enough to include the name of the company in the advert. Someone I used to work with alerted me to it, asking if I was leaving, which was the first I'd heard about it.

    The new company already have some presence on site for the transition, but I think they're mainly managers. I met one of them about 6 weeks ago, and he actually made a good first impression. Nothing was mentioned about recruiting, and there isn't really room for a third person.

    Short term, I'm fine - I'm contracted until January, and I have a vast amount of business knowledge in my head that they need. Longer term, I'm more confused than anything: as far as I know, I'm very highly regarded in the workplace (and as a contractor, if I wasn't they would have got shot of me by now), and the salary that is being offered is only a shade under my current wage - certainly not worth 12 years experience with this client. I don't know if the end client are aware of the move or not.

    Any thoughts on my next step? I have various scenarios running through my head. It's probably just as well I have the weekend to ponder it, as it means I'm less likely to print off the advert and walk into the office brandishing it in my fist whilst demanding 'what the f***'s this then, eh, you c***?'

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  3. #2
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    I don't want to sound alarm bells but we did have a similar situation at work recently where we had a contractor who had specialised knowledge of a system we used extensively. As an Accountant I had to reconcile what came out of this system into our Nominal Ledger and the contractor was about the only guy who could help with designing reports etc. Considering how close we were to failing an audit before we joined I would have thought his job was pretty much bomb-proof (as I hoped was mine!).

    However about 2 years ago we didn't renew his contract and he left, within a week it was announced we were moving from that system to a more fully integrated one. Needless to say it was all kept under wraps so we had little idea until the announcement was made but up until then it made no sense whatsoever to get rid of this guy. Obviously I hope this isn't the case with you but it shows that sometimes there is a greater purpose which they have in mind.

    I also feel some empathy because in a previous job I came back off holiday to see my job advertised in the local paper - apparently it was to "keep me on my toes". I used those toes to wander down to a solicitor although in my case I did have a permanent job there and since it was a small company it was difficult to deny it was my role.

    Good luck but I hope you don't need it!
    To infirmity and beyond

  4. #3
    Perhaps this practice is more widespread that I thought.

    How did you broach the subject? This is the bit I'm unsure on - I have concrete evidence that it's my position being advertised, but don't know how confrontational to be when I raise it. I could take a couple of approaches; get end client and supplier in the room together, initially ask the end client if they're aware, etc.

    In many ways, you could argue that this a very generous notice period - I'm as certain as I can be that my current contract will be honoured, regardless as to what happens after that. I've also had a few 'wobbles' along the way in the past 12 years (being cut to 4 days a week, and one spell where I didn't get paid for over 3 months), so have always prepared for the worst and am in a strong position in that regard. It's just the sneakiness of it that has got my goat.

  5. #4
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    It was a few years ago so I was more "confrontational" than I probably would be today.

    Maybe a better way would be to ask if it's ok if you apply for it. You'll probably be able to tell from their reaction what their intentions are and as you said at least you have a decent notice period.
    To infirmity and beyond

  6. #5
    I chose the gentle approach, and asked the IT Manager of the end client whether he knew about it. He didn't - and his reaction did appear to be genuine shock so I do believe that. He told me to leave it with him, which was probably the best step as I've only met the supplier's transition manager once. He wasn't in the office, and after a phone call I was told it was a temporary position to assist with the transition.

    I'm not sure how much of that I believe - the advert asks for a full out developer, and doesn't even mention documentation which would be the key skill if it really were a short term post. So I shall continue to be wary, and treat the transition much like an audit where I keep as much information as possible locked away in my head. It's somewhat comforting that the end client doesn't appear to be trying to push me out, but I think I've got to approach this as if I'll be out of work in the new year and prepare accordingly. Hopefully I'll wheedle out more information as time passes... and hopefully, if they do take someone on, they'll turn out to be a chump.

  7. #6
    I always go for the direct approach in this kind of situation too. Hope it turns out fine.

  8. #7
    I met the new me this week. Only 2 hours with him so far, but first impressions are favourable... from my perspective at least. He's been around for a while, but it's abundantly clear that whilst he's not a complete idiot, he doesn't have the depth of knowledge that you would expect with that experience. Whilst this counts for something, he may be adept at the management game - I'm fully aware that sometimes it's not what you know, but who you impress. I have a lot of hours next week, so will get to know him better. So long as I'm careful not to feed him any particularly insightful lines that he can recycle as his own, I probably feel as comfortable as I can be at this point.

  9. #8
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    Make sure there are plenty of unhelpful lines you can leave dangling though!

    I'm feeling quite positive about things at the moment - one person recently "resigned" and another is being marginalised - I'm not saying I had anything to do with it since they are both senior to me but it does help when they challenge me in the one area I know better than anyone else.
    To infirmity and beyond

  10. #9
    Senior Member Llanlad's Avatar
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    Ahhh the cut throat back stabbing nature of the office politics.

    I do not miss the BS nature of this kind of stuff.

    In my main job ... there is only one office worker .. and thats me.
    There is a big misunderstanding between the concept of talent and skill, talent you have naturally but skill is only developed by hours and hours of beating on your craft... nobody got to where they were without hard work.

  11. #10
    So the transition was complete at the start of November... and the new me was still in the office. He started picking up work and becoming far to comfortable for my liking... then all of a sudden he was told he was done, and he left at the end of last week. First battle won then. However...

    I've discovered that they've interviewed and hired someone out in India. He hasn't started yet - apparently he was offered the job in December, but has a 3 month notice period. The official line is that it's part of their business model; that every team has an offshore component to cover holidays and take additional work from those on site. That's the official line...

    In the meantime, my contract ends in a couple of weeks, and no one has actually spoken to me about it yet. I've reminded them, but the closest to a response I've had is someone saying 'I'm sure we'll sort something out'. My guess is that they'll offer me another two months as is, and we'll then go through another discussion as that comes around and the offshore chap starts. Part of me is tempted to tell them to stick it, but two months wages and the prospect of being out of work in spring is more attractive than moping around in the current cold and wind.

  12. #11
    Senior Member Llanlad's Avatar
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    I could and would not work under these circumstances.
    There is a big misunderstanding between the concept of talent and skill, talent you have naturally but skill is only developed by hours and hours of beating on your craft... nobody got to where they were without hard work.

  13. #12
    It hasn't been the most pleasant 6 months, but the idea of finding another corporate job isn't that appealing right now. My half-arsed plan is to sort of stick it out whilst learning Swift (the new language used for iOS app development) in my spare time, in the hope I get a killer idea, write an app that earns millions, and not have to worry about it. Or at least have a good enough idea that I can write something that would keep me ticking over. Surprisingly, the biggest flaw in all this isn't that the chances of having a good enough idea and getting it to market where people can find it is extremely tough, it's that I'm an idle bugger at heart and am not dedicating enough time to learning. Tonight was the first time I've looked at it since Christmas.

  14. #13
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    Here's your million dollar idea. An app that snaps a photo of serial and model numbers, does an optical character read and stores them in a database. Next time you need a new water filter for your fridge you don't have to dig around for the information. You can use that info to place an order on Amazon. Version 2 you hook up the database with a list of accessories the item could possibly need replaced, mower blades, drill bits, batteries, whatever. Hook up a buy button and you can head to the beach.

    I have 7 large appliances a riding mower and an assortment of hand tools, not to mention computers and printers and the like that I occasionally need to get this info. I find it a pain in the butt and would easily pay $1.99 for the app.

    Cro

  15. #14
    $1.99? That much, eh?

    Similar things exist for barcodes, and go so far as to do a price comparison. I suspect the biggest problem with serial numbers and OCR would be the accuracy: dirty or worn numbers would be difficult to capture, and even if you could, how would you categorise them?

    But if I ever decide to write it, I'll give you a copy for free.

  16. #15
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    Millions of people have appliances, sell a few million at $1.99, go to the beach.

    Older appliances might have an issue with smudged numbers. You would need to let the user verify, edit if needed and accept. Same with categorization. User takes a pic and an edit control comes up allowing the user to pick from a canned list or enter the name of the item.

    Cro

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