Hi, I’m Matt Wade, you may remember me from such Salesforce Ben miniseries as Admin2Consultant. Well after a bit of a blog break, I am returning again with another mini-series on another career move in the Salesforce space, which as far as I can see, doesn’t seem to get much coverage in the blogosphere. That is the move from Consultant to Contractor, or indeed, from a full-time position, to a position of self-employment in the Salesforce space.
Over the course of the series, I hope to give you an insight into what this has meant for me and perhaps it might help to answer a few questions for those thinking of making a similar move.
In this part, I will cover the basics; the who, what, where, when, why and how of contracting in the Salesforce space.
Well me obviously, that’s why I’m writing this. But I also know of some of my former colleagues who have made the same move. You may know of someone, perhaps some former colleagues of yours too. The point I’m trying to make is, it could be you as well.
But steady, it shouldn’t be anyone. At the very least, a Salesforce Contractor should generally be someone with a minimum level of expertise and experience under their belt to perform the service required to a high standard for the client. You are an individual as a contractor, so you should therefore be confident that you possess the skills necessary to fulfil the criteria of service for your employment. That said, as you will know, everyone in the Salesforce space is pretty friendly so there are always people willing to help, as well as the vast amount of resources available to you like Salesforce online documentation, Trailhead, Salesforce Community etc.
The Oxford English dictionaries definition of a contractor is, “A person or firm that undertakes a contract to provide materials or labour to perform a service or do a job.”
Translating that to the Salesforce space, a Salesforce Contractor is essentially a professional for hire whose knowledge, skills, experience and expertise is used by a company for a specified length of time, written into the contract, to fulfil a service or function for a Salesforce project (or perhaps as part of a wider tech project).
Anywhere. That’s the beauty not only of cloud computing, but of the demand for Salesforce. I can’t think of many other industries more perfect for such a situation. If I have a functional design, what’s to stop me from doing it from one of those high speed internet cafes in Bali? Ok, I haven’t done that, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t and become one of those ‘digital nomads’ we hear so much about. Given the global demand for Salesforce skills, you’ll more likely be in one of the world’s cities such as London, Berlin, New York, Sydney or San Francisco in the office of your client, probably 3-5 days a week.
Whenever suits you, ish. Remember this isn’t a full-time job, so if you fancy getting away from it all, then find a contract with a length of time that suits your goals and then take some time out to do what you want when it finishes. Just remember though, unlike a fultime job you will not have that salary or safety netting of a job to walk back into.
Also depending on the type of contract, you might find that you will need to be on client site for 8 hours a day, a certain number of days a week. Or perhaps going back to that digital nomad lifestyle, you may just need to fulfil a function (such as config) over a length of time, so maybe you now want set up shop in Medellin and work from there. That too can be fine, as long as that is ok with your terms of employment and your client.
Obviously it makes it a whole lot easier for everyone if you need to be in the office or attend meetings, to adhere to office hours. Note to potential employers; I work normal office hours in your designated time zone.
Hopefully by now you may see some insight into why I have chosen this lifestyle. I’m still fairly young, have no spouse, mortgage or any other dependencies and have a strong desire to re-balance the work/life ratio. Sure I love Salesforce and consulting in general, but I also love seeing new places, meeting new people and trying new things. Contracting allows me to do that. Instead of commuting for 2 or 3 hours a day and working late into the night, 48 weeks a year, I now work a set 8 hours for defined time periods of say 3 or 6 months and then take some time back for myself. It’s not forever, I will want a full-time job again soon enough, but for my life choices now, it’s perfect.
Oh and the pay. Yeah, the pay is pretty good. You can expect your net to be a multiple of what it was before depending on position and contract.
But it’s not for everyone, look at the flip side. I have no pension, I risk running out of money and not being able to find another contract. Being ‘on the bench’ in a firm still means salary, being on the bench in self-employment means no income. When I do get that contract, I have to work a month in arrears, possibly creating cash flow problems. I risk not progressing my career if I take up contracts that are not challenging enough or where I’m not learning new skills or gaining decent experience. There’s no personal development plans, there’s no training and there’s no path to promotion as such either. All those things I have to create for myself and you have to be confident in your own planning and execution, because there’s no manager there to support me.
I strongly advise anyone considering the move to do their own personal SWOT analysis and take a step back to understand what they truly value, before making any decision.
So, you’ve weighed up your own pros and cons and are still interested in making the move? Well, I’ll cover the how in the next part.