I said no to a great job.

Steve Pruneau
Coast Guard 47' Motor Lifeboat
Coast Guard 47' Motor Lifeboat. Source: Mike Baird via Flickr

I just couldn’t do it.  To advance through more interviews and probably a job offer, I had to agree to become a regular full-time employee.  It wasn’t for my lack of trying to alleviate concerns. “We can make any commitment contractual:  re-coup your training investment, protect intellectual property, ensure I stay long term.”, I said.

They did consider, but in the end:  Nope.  Gotta be an employee.

The job opportunity was great – the kind of project work that I really enjoy.  I know a few people who work there.  I love the company and product that they are building.

Before clicking [send] on the polite e-mail declining to proceed, I thought to myself, “Am I really going to to do this, say ‘no’ to a great job with good pay during a crappy job market?”  After a pause… “yep”.   Click.

Many of you who are already contractors get this.  After you’ve been off the leash for awhile, it’s difficult to go back.  True, we don’t automatically get food and water on a regular schedule.  We have to actually go hunt for it.  The hunt is often hard and full of uncertainty.  And yet, we grow to like it.  Life as a contractor forces us to be more resourceful and with those sharpened skills, we become more secure.  We become more detached from politics in the client organizations where we work.

Here’s a line from my e-mail that sums it up:  “I guess I’ve been through one too many management changes, down-sizings and acquisitions to give-up my own life boat.”

The life boat is knowing that if my client announces lay-offs, or a toxic new boss, an acquisition, a merger, or anything bad… I can walk.  I have a marketable trade skill and a company behind me that handles my health insurance, retirement plan, payroll and billing, none of which is interrupted when I move to the next client.

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Steve Pruneau leads executives and business owners to solve the gap between variable revenue and a fixed workforce. He is the first consultant at Free Agent Source. As a founder, Steve engages the broader community of corporate clients, entrepreneurs, startups and consultants. He manages company operations and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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