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Consultants avoid overtime trap

2 min read

In response to the report written by Ed Frauenheim, "More overtime tussles for tech companies?":

Your lengthy article completely missed an entire angle. Nothing you wrote is news to me. I, and many others, have figured out quite some time ago that a salaried IT employee is, pretty much, a wage slave and gets the short end of the stick. To even the playing field, we became contract consultants.

I consider my move to consulting 11 years ago to be the second-best decision I ever made in my life. I still do what I always did--except that I'm paid by the hour. Meanwhile, the other programmers I once worked with are on a salary and toil away 10-to-12 hours a day at the office--while remotely logged in on weekends.

Meanwhile, I come in around 9, put in a good eight hours, and leave around 5. If management wants me to work overtime, I'll be happy to do so, but I'll get paid for it, by the hour. At the end of the year, I end up making about twice as much as I would've as an employee. And that's true even though I have to pay for my own fringe benefits.

Lately, companies have been trying to pressure consultants to convert to employees. I get daily calls from headhunters begging me to take a salaried position, which I politely decline. There's definitely pressure there, but the thing is that all the talented hackers who know what they're doing have figured out the salary scam a long time ago. If a company needs someone who knows what he's doing, they'll just have to pay for them.

Sam Varshavchik
New York, N.Y.