Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Must Be Crazy. . .

At least that’s what a ‘headhunter’ all but told me today.

Those of you who’ve ever done any contracting know, the process of getting ‘in front of’ the client is generally a series of calls, each one exacting just a little more information, and verifying that what’s on your resume, is what you’re still claiming.

I had the third in a series of calls from the same agency today. Yesterday I talked with someone who gathered a little “is this guy for real” information and requested some references.

That initial recap all went well, then there was the talk about the scope of the project, who the actual client was, and my availability.

In that conversation, I explained I’m currently on a contract until at least June 1st, and most likely until the 1st of July. In that same conversation, he indicated that my time frame shouldn’t be a problem. We also talked money, I explained what I felt the project was worth in terms of an hourly rate, and again he said that shouldn’t be a problem.

So, today there’s the call from the “Account Manager”, once again we talk about the project, my qualifications, my willingness to pursue the opportunity and so on. I should have known when she tried to ‘low ball’ me with both a lower hourly rate, and then a “daily rate” that things weren’t quite right… but then she asks “So when could you start?”

I again explain that I’m currently on a contract that’s likely to run until July 1st.

Her response was “Why can’t you just give a two week notice?”

I attempted to explain to her that I’m of the belief, that in this business (well in life actually) all you really have is your word. I went on to say that when I’d agreed to work through June, I’d made a promise, and I was not going to break that promise. I asked how her client would react if I agreed to a contract period with them, and then in the middle of the project just up and walked because I’d gotten a ‘better offer’?

Her response was “The client won’t wait”.

To which I said: “Then we’re done here, there’s not much left to discuss.” Once again she expresses some incredulity at the fact that I wouldn’t just “jump” at the opportunity (it did pay very well).

I ended the conversation by extending my sincere hope that she finds another person, with the skill set she needs, who’s just sitting around waiting for something to do.

So, I’m driving home tonight and thinking… I must be freakin’ crazy.

I get this gig, dropped in my lap, that pays nearly double what I’m getting now, and despite the unrest on the job, I’m standing on my principles… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

This was a shot at a large gig, at a major US bank (one of the top 3), converting some old FoxPro 2.6 applications to Visual FoxPro 9, and possibly some VFP web development and I shoot myself in the foot, over a few weeks on an existing contract. What is it, in me, which caused me to do that? I honestly don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about it for several more hours tonight and even knowing what I now know… I’d have done, and said, the same things.

I still speak with the folks that put me into the Sabre/USAir gig back in ’98, in fact one of the guys has moved at least twice and still either calls or drops me an email to let me know where he is. I doubt he’d be doing that, if I’d walked off that gig when I had an opportunity come up.

I know, there’s a lot of ways to play the game. For me though, while I do consider myself a “coder of fortune”, I also think you have to have your own, internal, guidance system. Mine tells me, that when I give my word, I have to do everything within my power to honor that commitment. It’s caused me more than a little angst over the years, and I’ve passed on several opportunities like (well maybe not quite as good, but similar to) this one over the years.

In the final analysis though, we all have to live with ourselves. At least I do. At times like this, I sometimes do feel like there’s something wrong with me, that I should just jump on the “me” bandwagon and follow the money… after a while though, like now, I realize once again, that it’s not the money that’s important. It’s how I feel at the end of the day.

Most days, and especially on this gig, at the end of the day, I feel good. About the work that I’ve done and the difference that work is making. I can’t say the money wouldn’t have been nice, because it would have been; it just wasn’t enough to make me go against one of my core beliefs.

So… I might be crazy, but I like the lunatic I am!!

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Kim Greenlee said...

I’ve always believed in the adage that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation but seconds to destroy it.

If the other parties in this are smart they’ll wait for you. An honest person with integrity is extremely valuable and I would think the type of person much needed for gigs at financial institutions. Unfortunately, I got to wonder if the Account Manager sees the value of this action.

I just stumbled onto your blog from Technorati, don’t know you from Adam, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

Good luck!

Bill said...

Kim - Thanks... I really don't care about getting the project... There always seems to be something for me to do to "make eats"...

I doubt the account manager in question was seeing past putting a warm body, any warm body, in front of the client with a 'can start tomorrow' sticky note on the folder.

I'm glad you stopped in.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


Keep your principles - - they last MUCH longer than the extra money!

I have been in similar situations in the past - - of course, not on the "grand scale" yours was, but I would never leave an employer in the lurch with no notice. It's not professional, it's not fair, and it is the best way to ruin your reputation.

Honesty and integrity seem to be in short supply these days - - and it's very refreshing to hear that it still exists in people like us! :-)


Bill said...

Liz - The way the karma wheel spins, never ceases to amaze me. It turns out, the person I thought I was talking to, was just another headhunter, who happened to have the same gig... and by coincedence, called at about the time I was expecting the other call.

I got a note from the Senior recruiter today, telling me he was sorry the Account amanger hadn't called... Long story short, they submitted my 'package' to the client today...

Life itself is exceedingly strange!

I'm glad there are folks we can count on too Liz... I've met a number of them right here on the blog!! :)

Lorna said...

I like that crazy guy too---he has some set of morals on him

Bill said...

Lorna - I'll tell him you said that, he's been sleeping modt of the day, miffed because I said he was crazy!!

Seriously, thanks.

Comfort Addict said...

You're a mensch, Bill. I try to be the same way. I've turned down big music gigs because I promised someone else I'd play a small one. Some guys would try to worm out of the small one but that's just not me.

Nice post.

Bill said...

CA - Thanks... I figure you only have one shot a being known as someone how lives up to their promises... If I have nothing else when I check out of here, I hope to still have that!!

It is tough to pass on the 'big stuff' sometimes, other times the smaller things are just so much more fun!!

BTW, I was pretty sure you'd be in sync with me on this!!

Firehawk said...


" thine own self, be true..."

Really, the only important thing is the ability to live comfortably in your own skin. I think that starting a relationship with a new employer on the proviso of, "Hey, screw those guys, we need you TODAY!" is a bad idea. If their first image of you is of a person with flexible morality, where can the association really go?

Obviously, there are times when we have to take any opportunity that's presented. The principle of taking care of family and keeping food and shelter paid for comes before the other concerns--the promises and obligations to loved ones are stronger and more durable than those made to co-workers and employers--but provided a "makeable" choice, I think that the honest person shows character in turning down financially lucrative opportunities that would in some way compromise their integrity.

We find ourselves on this earth, sentient and with a litany of gifts. If we choose not to live in a way we can be proud of, we must carry the full burden of that choice. Really, making momentary choices that seem burdensome save us from the greater burden of remorse down the line.

Another good post.

Beth said...

Your first poster said it all. My husband always says to never burn bridges because you don't know when you'll need them to cross again!

Jada's Gigi said...

Good for you, Bill! Not too many poeple put principle before the almighty dollar these days but like you have to live with you. YOu would definitly be the kind of employee I would want on my team. I don't know why some people don't see the value in always amazes me...

Bill said...

Firehawk - You said it... I figure I have to live with my decisions... good or bad.. I'd rather know that I made, an ultimately bad, decision, for the right reasons.

Beth - Yeah I'm with you on the bridges... I've had to try and cross a 'burnt' one a couple of times... it's much easier not ligting them ablaze I've found.

Cheryl - Thanks, I feel the same way, I'd rather have a marginal performer I could trust, than a stellar performer I always had to 'watch'... Life is just too short!!

Trevor Record said...

"Coder of Fortune" eh? That isn't a bad term, you should get it trademarked.

Bill said...

Trevor - I actually thought of that, but, it's not worth the $375 fee for federal registration.

It's not however already claimed so, I'm hearby claiming my trademark rights:

Bill Coupe "Coder of Fortune" ©