The Skeptical Tester

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13 comments
Fiona Charles's picture

Hi Robert,

You're right to be cautious -- freelancers do occasionally get ripped off. However, I'm not a legal expert and I suggest that if you're really concerned, you start by getting a legal opinion of your contract. You should also find out what "legal hiring" means in your jurisdiction. The laws that govern regular employees may not cover free-lancers.

Here are a couple of general tips that it's a good idea for any freelancer to practice.

Before signing anything, research the reputation of the company proposing to hire you. Ask around if you have any doubts about them.

Read every page of the contract carefully. Don't be tempted to skip over stuff that looks like boilerplate. If you do decide to sign, initial every page even if you haven't been asked to do that.

I don't know any way to assure that you will actually get paid. But don't let your customer snow you. If the money dries up and they miss a scheduled payment, stop working immediately until you get paid. (They might miss the first payment through bureaucratic sloppiness. That's not usually a major concern. But missing a later payment is a danger signal. Don't get trapped into working for free!)

Go out and buy a copy of "Secrets of Consulting" by Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg. It has lots of wonderful advice for contractors as well as consultants.

Most of the time, it all goes well and we have good mutual relations with our customers.

Best of luck with your freelance career!

Fiona

August 31, 2012 - 6:30pm
Fiona Charles's picture

Hi Robert,

You're right to be cautious -- freelancers do occasionally get ripped off. However, I'm not a legal expert and I suggest that if you're really concerned, you start by getting a legal opinion of your contract. You should also find out what "legal hiring" means in your jurisdiction. The laws that govern regular employees may not cover free-lancers.

Here are a couple of general tips that it's a good idea for any freelancer to practice.

Before signing anything, research the reputation of the company proposing to hire you. Ask around if you have any doubts about them.

Read every page of the contract carefully. Don't be tempted to skip over stuff that looks like boilerplate. If you do decide to sign, initial every page even if you haven't been asked to do that.

I don't know any way to assure that you will actually get paid. But don't let your customer snow you. If the money dries up and they miss a scheduled payment, stop working immediately until you get paid. (They might miss the first payment through bureaucratic sloppiness. That's not usually a major concern. But missing a later payment is a danger signal. Don't get trapped into working for free!)

Go out and buy a copy of "Secrets of Consulting" by Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg. It has lots of wonderful advice for contractors as well as consultants.

Most of the time, it all goes well and we have good mutual relations with our customers.

Best of luck with your freelance career!

Fiona

August 31, 2012 - 6:30pm
Lovett CA's picture
Lovett CA

And people wonder why I ask so many questions. :-) Great article!

May 23, 2012 - 2:54pm

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About the author

Fiona Charles's picture Fiona Charles

<span class="Text"><strong>Fiona Charles</strong> is a Toronto-based test consultant and manager with thirty years of experience in software development and integration projects. Fiona is the editor of <em><a href="http://www.stickyminds.com/s.asp?F=S1149_BOOK_4" target="_blank">The Gift of Time</a></em>, featuring essays by consultants and managers of various professions about what they've learned from Gerald M. Weinberg. Through her company, Quality Intelligence, Inc., Fiona works with clients in diverse industries to design and implement pragmatic test and test management practices that match their unique business challenges. Her experiential workshops facilitate tester learning by doing, either on the job or at conferences. Contact Fiona via her Web site at <a href="http://www.quality-intelligence.com/" target="_blank">www.quality-intelligence.com</a>.</span>

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