Microsoft Contract Positions

Let’s explore the new concept behind contracting. Contract positions used to be short term positions in random locations. This made contract work very difficult as it was hard to find another contract in the same city. These days’ contract positions are DESIRABLE! They pay more, you still receive benefits, sick /holiday pay and when you're term is over you can collect unemployment until you switch to another contract.

Here in Washington State, contract positions are a dime a dozen. Microsoft has a large majority of their staff working off of what's called an A- or V- position.

A- positions are short term usually from 3 months to 1 year. Most "teams" in MS keep their contingent staff or A- positions for the full year as due to budget restraints it would be costly to replace you. Once you've completed one year as an A- you must take a mandatory 100 day break. Meaning you can't work as temporary staff (A- or V-) in MS for 100 days. You can convert to full time (full time refers to direct hire not 40 hours, contractors get 40 hours and can elect for more)or Blue Badge as we call it up here during your 100 day break. That means you would be an employee of MS directly.

V- positions or vendors are just that...they classify you as a vendor with an outside company and you work either on or off the premises completing assigned projects. Vendors don't have an expiration date yet they also don't get the MS perks. Regulations state that vendors should be supplied office space by their vendor company not MS. Vendors are also supposed to obtain all equipment from their vendor company as well. This is the by-laws however they are hardly ever followed unless space/equipment is limited. V- employees (supposedly) report to their vendor company and not to MS managers, once again it is too time consuming for a MS manager to call your vendor manager so this is rarely followed as well. The great thing about V- is you don't have to take a 100 day break and your contract can be ongoing for several years. Sometimes you may even get to work from home.

When your 100 day break is over sometimes your old team will want you back as they worked hard to train you. In Seattle finding another contract position is easy as the unemployment rate is very low and employers have to compete for candidates. For precaution I'd recommend searching for a new position 2 -4 weeks before you NEED one! Also you can work for other large companies during your break from MS.

What is it like working as a contractor in MS? It's almost exactly like being an employee except without the intense interview and background checks. It is really easy to get contract positions as you're basically an at will employment meaning they can let you go at anytime. Therefore the interviews and clearance process is shorter and EASIER. Now let me clarify almost every company these days hires you "at will" meaning they can just let you go whenever. The reason the process is simpler is because your benefits and salary come from your staffing agency not MS. This means you’re CHEAPER for MS than hiring a person directly.

When you're hired as an A- or V- you get full access to MS campus with a little ID badge. You get all the free soda you could want. You'll have an email account ending in @microsoft.com. Basically you're like an employee.

What are the staffing agencies like? There are SEVERAL LARGE agencies in this area! They're big, stable, offer great packages, and have tons of jobs. Here are a few I'd recommend: Volt, Kelly Services, Aditi, Apex, and Excell Data. Take a look at their websites and see what they have to offer.

THE BEST REASON TO CONTRACT IS $$$$! Contractors get paid more! There's also tons of room to negotiate depending on your position! I negotiated $15/hr more then I was originally offered + benefits, bringing my income to 6 figures for a Project Manager position.

SECOND BEST REASON TO CONTRACT RESUMES!! As you can see if you read my profile I move around a lot. As a contractor for MS, I can change teams every year (when my contract is up) yet on my resume I can put MS for 3 years and simply specify projects. Therefore I get variety yet I look stable! Also tons of companies in Washington use similar contract positions T-Mobile, Expedia, Google, Boeing, and more.

THIRD REASON TO CONTRACT I WANT A BREAK! I make such good money during my contract that in my 100 days off I'm able to relax, go on vacation, go back to school, and more. I love it!

FOURTH REASON UNEMPLOYMENT RATE! Here in Seattle our unemployment rate is ridiculously low and as a recruiter our candidates are SNATCHED before we finish the paperwork! Competition makes negotiation as EASY as taking candy from a baby.

So I guess I'm not just saying that you should look for contracting positions...Seattle has an excellent job market ESPECIALLY for technical people(disclaimer…this is just my opinion please research before moving to a new location)!

Next time you see a 6month project or a contract to hire position give them a call...ask questions.

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