Don’t quit your job before getting a new one.
This is a subject I speak to so many developers about. We start to discuss their next career move and they reveal that they are planning on quitting their job soon so that they will become immediately available for a contract. The logic being that only technologists who are immediately available are eligible for contract positions…
There are two problems with this course of action. In my experience it is a complete fallacy that you can only get a contract position if you don’t have a notice period. If you are the right candidate for the position nine times out of ten the client will wait 4 weeks for you to start. Now at this point I would point out that my experience of recruitment is purely limited to the financial markets, so I am not speaking for any other market; but despite clients almost always stating that they would prefer to hire a candidate who can start straight away, in practice they are always happy to wait for the right candidate.
A deep recession
Despite the appearance of “green shoots” in the banking sector, we are still very much in a deep recession at the moment. Everyone who reads the papers or has any contact with life outside of the Square Mile can see that. They’re even talking about the country going into a triple dip recession (not a new icecream flavour) – so the idea of quitting your job without already having lined up something to go to is madness. The contract market is still depressed, and there are still lots of contractors out there looking for their next contract, so competition for each position is fierce.
“Ready to go contracting”
After about 5 years development experience many developers start to consider the prospect of going contracting. In general contracting is a good career option for someone who is a strong technologist but not interested in team leadership or corporate titles. The problem is that the contract market is not buoyant at the moment, with many of the investment banks trying to replace contractor numbers with permies. So there are lots of developers out there who feel that they are “ready to go contracting” but have not been able to.
My advice to these people is to be patient. Quitting your stable, permie job in the hope that it will make it easier for you to find a contract will not make it happen faster. Doing so runs the risk that you will end up waiting for months without finding that dream contract job, or even end up taking another permie job! You might be ready, but if the market is not, nothing you do will change that. If you are determined to go contracting, I think you are better off either staying where you are and applying for contract positions as and when you come up (despite your notice period) or taking a new permie position that will improve your prospects to enter the contract market when it does pick up. But one thing is for sure, being unemployed in a recession is no fun.