Getting a contract position with Microsoft

Lots of people have asked me about this and I wanted to make sure that I am giving you the right I had to do some research and ask around...

Recruiters at Microsoft don't handle contract opportunities...frankly, I probably sound a little clueless when someone asks me about them (for example, “what contract opportunities are open>”). Anyhoo, based on my research (AKA, chatting with knowledgeable co-workers in the hallway), I've got some tips for ya on finding a contract opportunity...

1) “80% of getting a good contract opportunity is putting together a good resume”. Hmmm, I've already shared a lot of info on how to do this, but I guess it's good for you to know that an agency is not going to do this for you. I used to work on the agency side and expected my candidates to do this for themselves as well. Who can market you better than you?

2) Be flexible on your first assignment. Does it make sense to wait until that perfect contract opportunity comes around? Probably not. The contract role is a foot in the door that you are going to try and leverage to find find a full time position, right? Just make sure that the role is kind of meaty and that it allows you to use some of your strongest skills. Then get in there and get the job done.

3) Understand the difference between a contract role and a vendor role at Microsoft. What's the difference, you ask? A contract role is one where you work onsite at Microsoft and are managed by a Microsoft employee (you may hear people refer to these as “ay-dash” roles because your e-mail address starts with a-). A vendor role is more of an outsourced project where we are using a firm with specialized knowledge in a particular area. That firm hires their own folks for the project and manages the project offsite.These are often referred to as “vee-dash” roles (I don't have to explain why, do I?). 

So how do you find these kinds of roles (either contract or vendor)?

Contract roles: contact one of the preferred providers. The ones that seem to cover the most space are S&T and Volt. For the most part, we hire mostly technical and administrative folks into these types of roles, but you marketing folks may want to give it a shot as well. These tend to be more short terms roles because if the position is justified long-term, we will create a full-time role.

Vendor roles: this is a little trickier and I think this is where more of the marketing work takes place. Vendors are hired by the individual business units. So my recommendation is to network. If you know someone in the business unit that you want to work in, ask them what vendors they use for particular types of work (and trust me, the recruiters really don't have insight into this stuff). Or open the phone book and call the biggest vendors/consulting orgs in your area of expertise. I'm sure some of them even mention their work with us on their websites (client or representative project listings). Google away.

4) Also, make a good impression when you speak with the recruiter from the agency or the vendor firm. If they don't feel like you will represent their company well, they will block you. Take this as seriously as you would a regular job. Then when you do get into a consulting role, first make sure that you are doing a good job and then discreetly let them know that you are ever so interested in full-time opportunities. Don't be so focused on securing full-time employment that it becomes a distraction. I've found that when contractors come in and do good work, people know about it and they can be networked around the organization. And I've even hired a number of these folks into full-time roles myself.

If there are any Microsoft employees out there that have worked as contractors before and want to share tips on how to leverage the opportunity, please do!

Comments (93)
  1. matthew says:

    aren’t Microsoft contractors treated very badly (esp cf. the full-time employees)?

    Or is that a misconception

  2. Heather says:

    Matthew-I’ve never been a contractor here so I don’t have first hand experience. But I’ve never seen anything that makes me feel that contractors are treated poorly.

  3. Rajmohan says:

    I dont think so, it is a misconception I think. It may depends on your manager, your group etc., I have heard different managers treating contractors in different ways. Check out my blog – in which I have a relevant blog.

  4. Ry Jones says:

    I never felt second class at Microsoft. Several times I had my own private office (as a contractor).

  5. anonymous says:

    Having been a contractor at Microsoft in Silicon Valley, I can confirm that contractors are treated as third class citizens. The difference treatment comes in a variety of forms. Contractors share small offices (designed for one person) with other contractors. Equipment provided to contractors is from the "whatever is available" bin. The email idenifiers are a badge that communicates you are not part of the "real team" and therefore doesn’t require the same level of attention or response as a non-vee-dash or a-dash communication. Those designations in your email address create an immediate and obvious obstacle for getting work done, and an open invitation to be ignored or even abused by regular Microsoft employees.

    In my first two weeks at Microsoft, I had a meeting with a senior manager for an internal partner which we needed for development of a v1.0 product. Upon learning that I was a contractor, he became very hostile and asked rehtorically, "Why do they keep sending these goddamn contractors?!" He then threaten to call a senior exec in Redmond to complain about the group I worked with and my request. It was a request that should have been made to him much earlier, and the reason it wasn’t is the resource shortage in the group I worked with, as well as, the departure of my hiring manager two days after my arrival. The experience was abusive and demoralizing.

    Regular employees in Silicon Valley groups are second class citizens because the acronym which I learned inside the company, NIR (not in Redmond) applies. The exception is anyone in Microsoft Research.

    Having said all of this, I came to know other contractors located in Redmond who were treated with respect and appreciation. My belief is that contractors are in a position to be mistreated as they are immediately identifiable through their email addresses. Whether they will be mistreated, is completely dependent upon for and with whom they work.

  6. Brian Lutz says:

    In my experience, the treatment of CSGs really varies from group to group. I’ve had some managers who treat their contractrors as well as the FTEs, while some managters will barely acknowledge your existence (The term commonly used around here is "Dash-trash", although I’m not sure who made it up., the CSGs themselves or the FTEs.) Nonetheless, I’ve never found the a- in my alias to be a hindrance to getting my job done, and I find that keeping in touch with a friendly FTE or two from a previous team is usually enough to get me anything I need at the Company Store, and even get snuck into the occasional FTE party (only to have a crisis pop up back at the office, dang.)

    One plus about being a contractor is that you end up having a lot less boring meetings to go to…

  7. felix says:

    wow, the treatment really scares me. I’ve moved to Redmond because I really want to work for Microsoft. Perhaps contracting is not the right thing to do.

    Oh well. Thanks.

  8. Brian Lutz says:

    I guess YMMV, but I personally don’t mind being a contractor, at least for the time being. The bad news is that you have the 100-day break-in-service after a year to worry about, and even within that year it’s possible to end up doing some amount of job hopping, but it’s a lot easier to get a foot in the proverbial door that way (for most CSG positions, you’ll get a shorter version of the standard MS interview, often talking to only 3, maybe 4 people, and it’s generally easier to get hired on that way. This is good for someone like me, who has been working in STE2 and STE3 positions without much problem, but I still think I’d be something of a borderline candidate at this point for an FTE position in test.

    In short, don’t let the horror stores you might hear scare you off. Contracting is a good way to "try out" the whole MS bit, and get a feel for the corporate culture and the work you’d be doing there.

    You know, this would probably make a good subejct for posting on my own Blog.. I’ll try to do that within the next day or two.

  9. Heather says:

    Yep, I think it really would depend on who you report to (which you should really consider if you are looking at full-time employement as well). I’ve only visited the Silicon Valley campus briefly so I’m not sure what things are like there, but I have never heard the reference to "NIR". I’ve also never seen a contractor treated poorly but that’s not to say it doesn’t or hasn’t happened. There’s a contractor sitting down the hall from me…in his own office. I don’t see him being treated any differently than a full time employee. Although I am sure there are differences…for example Brian mentioned the company store.

    I think we are seeing more positive feedback here than negative (though the negative always sticks in your mind…doesn’t it?).

    If you were interviewing for a contract position here, it wouldn’t be totally outrageous to ask to speak with a contractor that is working on or has worked onthe same team to get some feedback on how they are treated. But by-and-marge, I don’t think you have much to worry about.

  10. I was a contractor for Microsoft earlier this year, and just started as a full-time employee today. My experience as a contractor was much different than that of "anonymous". I had a great time during my contract period, and worked with people who did their best to get me the support I needed to be successful in my job. I’m sure that much depends on both the job you’re doing, and particularly who you’re working with. For me, if I hadn’t gotten a full-time position, I’d have been more than happy to take another contract job with Microsoft.

  11. Heather says:

    Thanks Brian-you give some good info! Nice to hear it from your perspective.

  12. anonymous contractor says:

    Very interesting comments.

    After 2 years as a v-dash and working for a variety of MS Managers, I have nothing but good stories to report. While I agree that being marked with the "V-" may contribute to -ve experiences; however this was the result of a previous contractor lawsuits that forced MS to clearly mark and treat non -FTEs as such.

    A quick question to anyone that may have the answer; what is the average vendor agency take of the total rate they get to bill MS for ones services. If my vendor agency is billing me to MS at $1, what is an average take home for the vendor agency? thnx

  13. a former contractor, currently a temp says:

    The cost of living in Redmond is low but how come the contract rates are so low?

    If your rate is less that $ 50 an hour what is the point in being a contractor? You might as well be a permanent employee. Your average mid manager at Microsoft without any skills (except for the ‘smart goal’ skills) earns about the same.

    The stupid 100 day break and the low contract rates pretty much makes it impossible for Microsoft to ever employ any competent people. I am so sorry.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    former contractor-uh, first, I don’t handle contract work…thought I made it clear but no problem restating: I DON’T FILL CONTRACT ROLES. But I sense you came on here to vent. Since I don’t handle that, I can’t really do anything about it. The 100 break was a legal requirement, I believe. I understand your frustration, but if it’s bad why don’t you make a change? Also, just from my experience (I have an a- working for me), the agency sets the rate, not Microsoft. Anyway, if it’s making you unhappy, it’s definitely time to make a change (good rule in general).

  15. ex-dash trash says:

    -Expect to be treated as a sub-coop student.  

    -Do not expect any type of response from a blue badge in  any reasonable time frame

    -If you try and add value, your manager WILL take credit (remember.. your trash, you don’t add value)

    -If a mistake has been made.. it will magnetize to the orange color of your badge.

    -Traditionally very few transition between orange and blue, so if you plan on sticking around more then 6 months, look elsewhere

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Let’s differentiate between having a bad experience and "the way it is". I’m always surprised by the high number of contractors that ARE hired into full-time positions (they must be having a good expeirence, huh?). I never heard the term "dash-trash" until I started blogging and I certainly never used it or felt it. Ask Sarah, the contractor who reports to me. She seems pretty happy and we think she’s awesome.

    I won’t say that there aren’t bad managers out there. There are also people who have not performed well and blame it on the fact that they are contractors. Ditto with full-time employees.

    The only people I have ever heard use the term "dash-trash" have been contractors. If you have a bad experience, escalate. Evaluate if you are doing something that is making people unresponsive to you (like referring to any person using the word "trash"). If those things don’t work and you don’t enjoy working here as a contractor, then don’t. That just seems like common sense to me.

    All contractors are not having the experience you are so let’s not make it about that.

  17. ex-dash trash says:

    It seems to me that you might have drank too much of the MS kool-aid to see "the way it is"  I know "teams" of people that are just waiting to transition away.  And since the inception of contractors at my previous location, i believe only 4 people have transitioned to blue badge.

    I was told very early on that I had damaged all potential of blue badging by taking a contractor job, and I was pointed out the Microsoft stance on contractors from the MsWeb glossarypull.

    As the case system in Microsoft became more apparent to me, I did escalate, and I did leave.  Now I am back at what I love doing.. Consulting:  but now I evangelize Open source solutions.

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Uh, no. I see contractors getting hired into full-time roles regulary. In fact, I recommend to people that want to work here to try contacting first (if it’s appropriiate for them). Shocking…I’ve even hired several of them myself! I don’t know anything about your situation or your "location" but it sounds to me like it’s not as simple as contractor versus full-time employee.

    Again, just because you had a bad experience doesn’t mean other people are, even if you want everyone to believe that.

    Glad you are enjoying your work.

    PS: people don’t "transition" into blue badge. They have to interview just like any other external candidate. Maybe that was part of the disconnect in your situation.

  19. Deepak says:


       I am right now working as a contractor in a huge Pharma company in NJ.I got a contract opportunity in MS Redmond.I am wondering if it’s worth moving all the way.I have a 1 yr project here now.MS’s is a 6 month contract.I am really in a fix…also the bill rate is $10 less.what do u think?

  20. howard says:

    You guys should check out .  There is a lot of great resources on various agency’s rates and reviews.

  21. Zooni says:

    I was a contractor went full time then became a contractor again. I have worked for 2 divisions and have 7 years of MS experience. Yes as a contractor you are a second class citizen. You stay at work during Microsoft events and end up doing a majority of the work that the FTE (full Time Employee) will take credit for. The pay is not good after the contract firm takes their share. Its better than being an FTE as if you work like a dog (which you often do) you get paid your overtime. I made the mistake of taking a FTE position for stock options and lost about $40k in overtime per year. You have a manditory 90 days off per year. Your best bet is to look at Microsoft as a resumee filler and not a serious career choice.

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Zooni – yet you stayed here for seven years? Why would you do that if you feel that way? I don’t discount anything you say (though I don’t agree with all of it), but the fact that you have been here seven years tells a different story and makes me wonder if something has just upset you recently.

    I think I mentioned before that there ARE things the contractors don’t get to go to (like some meetings). I’m sorry but this makes sense to me. Contract and full time does not (and cannot) equal the same thing. Contractors should be thankful that they don’t have to go to some of the meetings. It’s like begging to stay up late as a kid and then when you do, you find out that there wasn’t a big party every night after you went to bed.

  23. Garyb says:

    Wow, this sure is a thread with staying power!

    I’ve always wondered about the “second-class citizen” designation that some contractors feel that they have. I’ve worked for MS in Redmond as an FTE (88-95), and a contractor (2002 – present). We work hard, sure, but hey, it’s totally energizing to work with such great people. I’ve hired contractors myself and they were just as much a part of our team as any one else.

    I left in 1995 to do some other things, some of which worked out, some of which didn’t. When I came back as a contractor I was treated pretty much the same as any one else (except of course for the FTE-specific things that I never expected to be a part of). I think it’s like anything else, you get back what you put into it. If you have energy and enthusiasm, people want to be around you and they will give you the respect you deserve.

    I tend to think that if you’re not really into it, it’s not where you should be. I don’t mean that specifically relating to MS — I think this is true for life/work in any situation. I’ve worked at jobs that I wasn’t happy at, and of course, it didn’t work out to anyone’s benefit.

    If you really were a second-class citizen, you wouldn’t be working at a relatively high paying job, in any capacity. That’s part of the definition of second-class citizen and it’s not a term I would use lightly. Did I mention I’m disabled — I have a profound hearing impairment.

    Come to work here as a contractor, vendor, or FTE and find a place where you fit well, and I think you’ll find it’s an excellent place to work.

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wow…great comments Garyb. Thanks for contributing your perspective!

  25. Akshayan says:

    Are the interview questions for contract positions same as the permanent positions in MS? How to prepare for the Business Analyst contract position interview and what type of questions to expect? Thanks

  26. HeatherLeigh says:

    The questions should not be the same. The interview questions for contract positions should only relate to the specific contract opportunity.

  27. Joel says:

    A 3-year thread. This is great! 🙂

    Is the best way to try to get a contract position at Microsoft to go through the Volt website to look for contracting positions at Microsoft? Or are there other sites to look at as well? I don’t believe the Microsoft careers site lists contracting positions.

  28. Joel says:

    I would also be interested in understanding what the "FTE-specific" things a contractor would be left out of. For example, would a contractor be able to attend internal Steve Ballmer company wide forums? How about the company picnic or the company store?


  29. HeatherLeigh says:

    Joel, no, I don’t think contractors can attend those things. There definitely is a difference between being an employee and a contractor. Benefits like the company picnic and the software allowance are reserved for employees. It’s possible that the individual congtract firms have similar benefits tht they may offer their employees so people shuld probably ask that question if they are cosidering contract work.

  30. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oops, Joel, I missed your previous question. I used to work in the teamp space ages ago (pre job sites) so I am not sure how it works but my guess is tha tyou could just call and try to make an appointment with them. But if they have contract assignments listed on their sitel my guess is that they also have a searchable database and you should apply so you know that your resume is getting in there.

  31. A curious v-... says:

    Can anyone answer these questions:

    1.) What is the actual rate that Volt/Excell charges Microsoft, in comparison to what the contractor (a- or v-) actually sees?  I’ve heard anywhere from 2x to 3x what you (the contractor) make.  (I understand it varies per project/employee, but there has to be an average)  I really want to know this for when it comes time to renegotiate 🙂

    2.) How is this fair?  All the contracting companies do is “find the talent” and then they get twice what the person doing the work does?

    ANY INPUT would be great and highly appreciated!


  32. HeatherLeigh says:

    curious – I’m not really supportive of people publishing that here. But I used to place temps and I can tell you that the mark-up is much less than what you are assuming (definitely not something that you would talk about in terms of a multiple of x).

    If you ask for a raise, the contract firm almost always charges the company more, they don’t eat it out of their margin.

    PS: If anyone posts conract rates here, I will delete it. I definitely don’t want my blog to be known for that.

  33. Tawnya says:

    Hi, I have a position lined up for me at Microsoft. I was offered a contract through Siemens but am not happy with the offer. I am having trouble finding other Agencies I might want to get a counter offer from. Any ideas? Thank for your insight. BTW, you can also contact me via email

  34. possible XBOX contractor says:

    Hi, anybody have any experience with contractors at MS in Silicon Valley (Mountain View)?  Does the 100 day rule apply here?  Can we claim unemployment from it?  What are some of the contracting agencies used here (i.e. – Volt)?  Do they also have the 180 day non-compete clause here too?  I’d greatly appreciate it.

  35. NXM says:

    I have just been offered a contracting position at MS. I was interviewed for an hour by the hiring manager with some really grueling questions. After when that was over I got a call from Excell was told that the manager would like to extend an offer. But I would be working for another manager not the manager how interviewed me.

    In the beginning I was very excited that I was going to work at MS but after reading this thread and going through I am torn. I really cannot make my mind up. Another caveat to my case is that I am on H1B and Excell will transfer it and will carry it if I decide to take this contract opportunity, but I won’t be sponsored for permanent residency for the whole year. I do not have much time left my H1B and losing 1 year to MS is definitely something to think about. This is causing so much confusion in my mind.

    I myself is in favor of contracting. It gives you exposure to different companies, different people coming from various mind-sets and skills, you learn a lot in a very short amount of time. Since you are working as a contractor, it makes complete sense when you don’t get invited to company dinner or group luncheons or if you don’t get employee discount.

    I might take this contract position and it might jeopardize my opportunity of getting the permanent residence so I might not take this. I do not know at this point but I need to make my mind up tomorrow as Excell wants an answer from in either Yea or No.

    Wish me luck and best of luck to you all.

  36. MatthewB says:

    Congrats goin out to NXM, I too just got a contract (my second to be exact) at MS. In my last contract I never felt be littled or "tortured" as some would put it. I was treated fairly and many of the FTEs encouraged me to interview for FTE status while I didnt quite make the cut last time I hope to make it this time. From what I have heard, you get to prove your self with contract roles so the more contracts you have, the more experience and "proof" the HMs will have when you are interviewing for an FTE position. Best of luck to everyone!

  37. HeatherLeigh says:

    Good luck to YOU, MatthewB!

  38. Monty says:

    I read through all the posts here and on other sites about why not to contract.  I’d been trying for six months, with some INCREDIBLE support from current FTE’s, to get in for an interview for several positions I would have rocked at.  But I could never get my foot in the door.

    I’d given up on ever setting foot in there when I found a contract position I thought I’d be good at, sent it to my recruiter at S&T, got in for an interview and was offered the position–with 24 hours.  Hmmm….must have been the right fit.

    I was changing industries, having the skills but not the experience, and I’m grateful to my manager for giving me the chance.  I’m hopeful this will help give me the experience needed for one of FT jobs I would love, but whether or not I get on as an FTE, the experience I’m gaining is HUGE.

    And BTW, I’ve not been treated poorly by anyone in my group.  In fact, I hardly ever see anybody, spend most of my time working alone, and am enjoying the experience immensely.  The biggest change for me is getting used to how long it takes to get my emails answered because of all the meetings!

    My manager is great, has worked with me to get the best possible hardware, ensured I received RAS (much to the surprise of several of my FTE friends), and has helped me make the adjustment well.

    I guess it might depend on your group and on your manager.  I know I’m happy.  🙂

  39. HeatherLeigh says:

    Glad to hear you are enjoying it, Monty. I think you would hear something similar for the contractors on my team (I have 3) (well, not sure if they would say I was great, but you know). We have a similar set-up. People work pretty independently from home. We have lots of meetings via phone.

    I’m happy to hear that you have found a group that you like!

  40. Theodore says:

    It all depends on the team you join.

    Generalizations, everybody knows, cannot be drawn by individual experiences.

    I had 3 assignments @ MS (2 were fantastic experiences;  1 i prefer to forget).

    It is not an MS attitude. It is an individual attitude.

    MS is a great place to work.

    I seriously encourage everyone, seeking exposure to the industry, to seek a contractor job at MS.

    You will gain valuable knowledge and see the MS from inside which is a rewarding experience.

  41. New in the area says:

    Which  other MS recruiters have contract positions available? I am new in the area and just applied through Volts website. I also heard about ADITI, have any one have experience working for them? Which other MS recruiters will you recommend?

    I totally agree with the last comment. Everything is about individual attitude. Working for MS is a dream. You neet to  dream it, envision it and work to make it happen!

  42. HeatherLeigh says:

    Theodore – good insight. Thanks for sharing that!

    New in the Area – I’d try Corestaff, Volt and Kelly. I think they may have different specialties but it’s worth it to check out each one. Also, we have many vendors on site which are compnaies that bid for whole projects and manage their own staff, which are also considered contractors at Microsoft. The companies really vary by space/project but just thought I would mention it.

  43. New in the area says:

    Heather, Thanks for sharing the information. I will try the recruiters you recommended and will keep you posted on the results. I would really like to have the Microsoft experience, nice blog!

  44. Heather wrote a great post yesterday about contract roles at Microsoft . Zoë and I have received

  45. ADash2006 says:

    Working as an agency temp (a-) at Microsoft can certainly be a roller coaster experience.  I was a contract SDE on a product which eventually was placed under the Windows branch.  During the term of the contract, I wound up with two different supervisors.  The first supervisor was great.  He treated me very nicely, and included me in most of the meetings.  (And some FTE gatherings)  He let me play a key role in developing the product, and allowed me to make major decisions in the architecture of the software.  Needless to say, I learned A LOT.

    However, like many others have said here, it depends on the team, and whom you work with.  My supervisor was promoted.  His position was filled with a new guy.  This new supervisor was arrogant and rude.  In fact, he "let go" another contractor after a disagreement he had over a minor technical matter.  The contractor was escorted out of the building an hour later.  Needless to say, I was worried for my head, because nobody seemed to get along with this guy. Eventually, we got to know each other better, and we started getting along.

    My advice to anyone looking to become a Microsoft contractor:

    1. Be prepared for change

    2. Don’t expect to get any credit for your hard work (wow, consider it just a learning experience)

    3. Despite what some people say, the pay is good, especially when you factor in over time. Some agencies (e.g. Volt) provide paid vacation after so many months

    4. Don’t expect a fancy office  — I was in a large storage closet, with 4 other developers, and I had to enter a 7 digit code to unlock the door.  No carpet and metal shelves were my desk for 8 months.

    5. Learn to deal with "arrogance".  In fact, my second supervisor would always say "Deal with it"

  46. Kevin says:


    How often to ‘east-coast’ recruiting opportunities become available with Microsoft?  I’d love to pick up a remote contracting gig as a Technical Recruiter!!

  47. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I don’t have as much visibility to the contract stuff since each team staff’s for their own contract openings. We do have plenty of contractors working from home though. Just depends on the role/group. I fyou send me e-mail, I can give you the names of some of the agencies we go through for contract roles and you can engage them directly. Let me know.

  48. MG says:

    This has been an interesting read!!

    I’m just straight from college but with some experience which helped me land an SDET2 contract position through Volt.

    Reading through this blog reminds me of college: students rating "good" and "bad" professors. I learned very early not to trust these reviews because you get back what you put in. When I accepted my contract position, I signed documents explicitly specifying that contractors don’t get the same perks as FTE’s. I also know I’m being paid hourly, so as long as I work (productively…I hope!), my pay-check will be getting fatter.

    I already met the manager and some of the team and they all seemed so friendly and nice even after I made some blunders during the interview process. They were all so helpful and encouraging and I really look forward to working with them.

    So, I start in a couple of days and my attitude will simply  be this: don’t expect too much especially what is not due to me, be prepared to work hard and most important, be prepared to sponge up the new knowledge and skills that I will be exposed to.

  49. visitor says:

    I love the comment from a previous post comparing contractors who want to go to fte meetings as kids “stay up late as a kid and then when you do, you find out that there wasn’t a big party every night after you went to bed.”

    It’s lovely that first, it’s an unintentional perhaps admission that contractors are not thought of as equals (kids vs. adults) and naive as these meetings are essential in many cases to contractors doing the best job possible.

    I know there are a few folks whose bosses do treat contractors well, but they are never equals. I know many more that are treated as dash-trash. And from my own experience I know this as well.

    It’s very possible that…

    You will not receive opportunities to demonstrate your skills and excell (you’ll get the dirty work even if you have more experience and abilities than the the ftes)

    You will never receive credit for your attempts at contributing above and beyond or new ideas (that will go to your boss)

    You will be treated as best like an obedient child

    Your manager will not care about your career goals

    If you escalate anything, they might pat you and the head and say there there, but nothing will come of it.

    I worked for a boss that FTEs and CSGs had lodged written complaints against for his terrible mistreatment of employees. His boss said he was very sympathetic, and then promoted him. Two contractors quit immediately afterwards.

    And in the end your odds of getting a FT job? It’s alot luck and timing and being in the right place, with the right boss. So not likely, though possible. You can always dream. Your odds are also better in a technical than content field.

    The above treatment might make sense and not be so bad, if contractors were really contracting, working on one-off projects and in no way part of the day to day work and maintainence of the company. But they aren’t. They are doing full time work, side by side with ftes to some extent, and being treated as something else, something less.

    Anyone who thinks this is inaccurate, has been very sheltered, and I’m glad for them that they missed out on the reality.

  50. HeatherLeigh says:

    Interseting that you assume that what you experienced is how it is for everyone and if someone has had a different experience, they are sheltered. Uh….OK. Whatevs.

    Contractors are not treated like fulltime employees because they are not fulltime employees. They are valuable and we appreciate their service. But nobody should come in as a contractor and expect to be treated the same as a fulltime employee. That’s unrealistic.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if you don’t like being a contractor at Microsoft, then don’t do it. That seems pretty reasonable to me. I spoke with someone recently who was FTE and came back as a contractor and likes it better (may or may not have something to do with those meetings). To each his/her own.

    But don’t put your opinion on everyone and then tell anyone who disagrees that they are sheltered. That’s ridic.

  51. MSContractor says:

    I had a long story typed up about my experience but decided not to submit it because if someone saw it I would not want my good review to go to a bad review.

    In short everything Positive and Negative mentioned above is definately there and it depends on what group/manager you get on with. HeatherLeigh you do seem to be very defensive every time someone mentions negative things about their experiences and it appears that you have a slightly biases opinion. I am sure because of your consciousness of the subject it would be delightful and rewarding to have a contract with your team.

    My biggest complaint is that I worked @ MS for exposure to get on FTE but it felt like my manager was taking credit for all of the work me and other contractors were doing and even got promoted because of it. (NOTE: not all managers are like this, but some definately are)

    Some people treat contractors differently and other don’t. Some teams I communicate with are awesome while others never respond and will literally cut mine and the other contractors responses out of e-mails when they respond a few days later.

    There is good out there and there is bad out there, just like any other large company. I believe Microsoft does not promote the bad things and will do everything within their power to fix them, but they will always be there.

    I am not sure exactly how this e-mail comes off but I am very passionate about Microsoft and look forward to working there in the future!

  52. HeatherLeigh says:

    MSContractor – I can only speak from my own experience. What I have a problem with is people talking about an individual experience as if it’s that way for everyone. It just isn’t. Yeah, I am going to be defensive about it. Because it’s not true.

    I provide a very positive experience for my contractors. I don’t treat them like full-time employees because they aren’t full-time employees. But I treat them with respect and I value them.

    ANY contractor coming in expecting to be treated just like an FTE is setting themselves up for disappointment. They are not employees of Microsoft and therefore, do not have access to all the benefits (and meetings, etc) that full-time employees have access to. I’m still a little baffled that this is a surprise to anyone.

    I have worked with some amazing contract folks since I have been here. I don’t want to take away from anything that they have done. I have been very fortunate. But a contract role is not a guaranteed shortcut ti a full-time position. It can open up networking oppportunities though.

    So I don’t disagree with most of what you said, actually. I just think that some people have unrealistic expectations and that blasting us because they didn’t get offered a full-time position or they didn’t get the same things that a full-time employee got is not fair. It’s an open market. Those same people are free to apply for full-time positions if they want all of those things.

    Sorry, but if some people don’t like their situation, they should do something to change it. That’s kind of how life works. I’ve had crappy jobs and you know what? I don’t work there anymore. There’s no big conspiracy to keep contract folks from having full-time jobs if they are qualified for the individual roles. I encourage them to apply! Absolutely.

  53. ContractorToBe says:

    I must say that I was getting a bit scared about being a contractor for MS even though I was very excited about the opportunity.

    The reason was because of some of the negative comments I read elsewhere but after reading this blog I feel much more relaxed and confident that the decision I made to start a contract is the right one.

    I will be going to Redomond from Florida, and yes I will be moving by myself (not moving completely but at least I have to take my personal belognings and my car while leaving all my stuff in my home). This was scary at the begining specially after all the negative comments, fortunately that is no more.

    I have over 14 years of experience in SW development in the US alone as a FT employee at mayor corporations and this will be my first contract of significance. It has been my understanding from the very begining that I will be "differnet" from a FTE at MS and I know I should expect just that. Does that make it a negative thing to expect, well, not anymore, thanks to this blog.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences (both good and bad) as they have definitelly taken a weight off my head.

  54. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh good! I am glad it has helped and best of luck with your contract (I’ve moved cross-country once in my car and did temp work…I know the feeling…best decision I ever made).

  55. TD says:

    I have a phone interview scheduled for a Financial Analyst contract position with Microsoft.  Is there any thing in particular I should be aware of?  Any tips??? I am a little weary of the 100 day rule, and was wondering if you could clarify the specifics of that.

  56. Burnham says:

    What do contractors typically do with their 100-day break?  

  57. HeatherLeigh says:

    They take long or short term contracts at other companies, work on personal projects. Some just take the time off. Some find full-time positions.

    I guess it all depends on your financial situation and career interests.

  58. Ron says:

    I’ve been a v- (orange Badge) for the past 3 months.  It’s a great experience and I’m contemplating another contract position, or may try to become FTE.

    Being a v- is a good thing if you know what you’re in for – it will give you valuable experience, a good line on your resume (I’m told it’s more impressive the farther away from Redmond you go) and you can make good contacts.

    I would recommend doing contract work to anyone, but it’s best done when you’re young – it’s a humbling experience. While it’s true that there are some great managers, you ARE less important, expendable, ignorable.  You’re basically a migrant worker – but don’t let that put you off. As long as you can leave your ego at home, it can be a great experience and you’ll get a valuable education.  

    So: There are people who have terrible experiences or are too sensitive and there are people who claim they suffered no discrimination, or that there is none – both are incorrect.  There is discrimination, but it won’t kill you as you learn, get paid and drink all the starbucks and diet coke (or pepsi) you want.

    Good luck.

  59. WC says:

    Thanks Ron for your comment. I am going to start a contract role at MS soon and was worried by people’s negative comments about it. After reading your feedback, I feel so much more at ease in taking on the contract position.

    I had taken your attitude about it, as all I want out of my career at this point is to learn and build it. I am new to the field I’m entering, and I just graduated from grad school. So even though I’m not actually very young in age, I’m young in the field.

    So I think it is a healthy way to approach the experience, and I hope that this will help me do a good job and get far.

    Take it for what it is, and if the best you get out of it is more than what you want right now at this point of your life, then it’s the right decision to go for it.

    For those that want to be treated like FTEs, then apply for those positions and keep going until you get one. Refrain from taking on contract positions if you don’t like the treatment.

    I think contract positions work for those that need experience and can handle being humbled at work for some time. and it is true, it doesn’t hurt to leave the ego at home when you go to work. Putting MSFT on your resume also doesn’t hurt.

    Just my $.02

  60. riverworld says:

    I have had multiple "a-" contracts at Microsoft.  Last week I signed my first "v-" with an agency.  The hiring manager (LCA) thought that he could have the P. O. within a couple of days.

    The time frame keeps extending with no definite word of a start date.

    I have not worked with this sourcing company before, so I am looking for an informed, outside opinion on things such as the following:

    – Does the contract really mean anything?

    – What is a normal turn-around time on such a contract?

    – Is the lack of clarity commonplace, or should I be concerned that there is a basic flaw in the agreement?



    Bellevue, WA.

  61. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ward – the administrative time for vendor work is more than for a- work since it is project based. Without going into a lot of detail, the manager needs to provide documentation on the work being done and then have it approved. Sorry to hear that this is taking so long.

  62. Hema says:

    Hi Heather,

    It’s a great post. I learnt few things form the comments.That’s good.

    I am interested to work for Microsoft. And would like to repeat the question asked by Kevin"

    Do you have any idea

    How often do ‘east-coast’ recruiting opportunities become available with Microsoft? "

    I appreciate your help.

  63. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi Hema,

    So I’ll have to give you the same answer I gave Kevin 🙂 I don’t have visibility into the contract openings for other teams. We don’t track them the same way we track FTE positions. So it would be up to the individual manager to hire for his/her own team. I am not aware of any right now, but that’s not saying much. Because I am usually unaware of what contract recruiting openings are available on other teams.

    I’m guessing that the fact that you asked the question again means that my answer probably doesn’t help much. Sorry. If I knew more about how other teams were staffed, I’d try to help you out here. But I would only know about openings in my own organization and we don’t have anything right now.

  64. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, to the funny person that just left the last commment, make it funnier and not anonymous and I will leave it up. It kind of straddles the "total BS"/funny line.

  65. Bear says:

    Hi All,

    I’m about to finish my first contract at MS and it has been great!  I work with a bunch of smart people and nobody has treated me as a second class citizen.  In fact, I have been invited to parties and morale events on my team, which included bowling and lunch.  I have learned a lot of stuff and I feel very proud to see my work out in the real world for people to see and use.  I will be a little sad to leave the team since I’ve had a great time, but I must go on unless they decide to hire me! LOL!!  During my contract I shared an office with another contractor, but after she finished her contract I kept the office all to myself, which is great since I see a bunch of contractors working on the CSG bays just separated from the world by a red courtain.  I do get to attend a few meetings, but not as many as fte’s, which is great.  Sometimes I have had to work late, but I don’t mind because it doesn’t happen all the time, and it has only been during the time we are about to release a project.  Overall, I think the experience has been great and I can’t wait to start a new assignment, either as a contractor or as an fte!

  66. B says:

    Has anyone ever heard of an a- getting converted to a v- without taking the 100 day break?  We have an a- on our team that is very valuable and would like to convert to v-.  With current restraints, the FTE option is not available right now.

    Is there an exception process and if so, can somone point me to it?

  67. James says:

    I’ve worked with a preferred vendor since May of 2008, and I have to say that Microsoft has been great to us thus far. Our Microsoft practice has numerous roles, though I work in Public Sector, and our direct managers are absolutely amazing. They treat us like we’re FTE’s like them, encourage us, push us to be better, and are always quick to doll out praise. In addition, our team has become more and more known in our specific vertical, and as our v-teams grow I’ve encountered even more great people. Becuase of our great work our contracts have been extended for another year. Our roles allow us to travel to partner and customer facing events during the year, which is certainly fun, and I can say that at least within Public Sector, there are some great quality people in the org.

    I have no dillusions that as soon as we’re not profitable or our purpose no longer necessary, we’ll either be repurposed or discontinued. But we we’re told that up front, and our expectations were set from that point. The best part is that the ability to move into an FTE role has presented itself more than once in this role, and it could certainly be an option in the future, as others on our team have done so.

    I have no doubt that there are plenty of bad situations out there in a- and v- roles, but they certainly don’t stretch across the board. If you’re new to the industry, or like me and just getting out of undergrad, don’t pass over an opportunity to check out one of these unique opportunities.

  68. DJL says:

    I don’t think the OP had much to say.  Make a good resume to find a job — that’s brilliant, let me write that down.

    I have contracted at Microsoft twice.  They pay poorly, both FTE’s and contractors, and I don’t see any upside that balances out the bad pay.  Also, Seattle has too many tech workers (which helps Microsoft recruit even though they don’t pay well) so I wouldn’t move here to find a job, especially to work at MS, when you could likely find a better-paying job in another city.  Seattle has never fully recovered from the dot-com crash, and will not for many years.

  69. HeatherLeigh says:

    DJL, sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about. The contract firms, which are actually the employers, set the pay rate, not us. Microsoft doesn’t pay poorly (and frankly, how would you know?). Not sure how you think Seattle didn’t recover from the dot-com crash. There are new start-ups springing up all over the place.

    And every tech city has excess talent right now. It’s called a recession.

    Oy, the people who come in here like they are the wise sage only to misinform really drive me nuts. I’m not saying everything is great. We have had to eliminate some jobs and I wish that weren’t the case. Everybody is feeling it and it sucks.

  70. Jeebles says:

    I have been a-, v- and fte multiple times each at MS over the past 10 years. I would like to get another FTE gig at MS for the benefits because I want to start a family. MS HR is courting me, but it may be a few weeks before I get into the interview loop. In the meantime, various agencies are already getting me interviews for contracts. If I accept a contract position, would that preclude me from accepting an FTE offer at MS that I found on my own and that wasn’t a conversion from contract to full time in the same position? The standard non-compete for the agencies says I may not work either directly or indirectly for "the client" within 90 days of the end of my contract. Is "the client" Microsoft or the individual hiring manager? Thanks for the advice. It would suck if I reject contract offers and then don’t get an FTE offer.

  71. HeatherLeigh says:

    I would assume that it means the company, but I haven’t seen the contract. You should definitely ask the contract agency.

    If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, ask the recruiter you are working with.

  72. DJL says:

    I’m not sure how Heather can claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about.  First, I have contracted at MS more than once, and I know what I got paid, and it was less than friends of mine who bartend for a living.  On top of that, my contract ended just as a 10% pay cut was pushed through for virtually all contractors.  I’m currently applying to return to MS (because there aren’t many other positions open in Seattle) the positions are paying less than they would have been paying me AFTER the pay cut.  When I first came to Seattle, the Post-Intelligencer had pages and pages of computer job openings (pre dot-com crash).  I checked their website three days ago and there were FOUR computer support positions advertised, and as far as I know, Microsoft is not employing as many contractors as they did even a year ago.  Although times have been better since the dot-com crash, job openings have never bounced back entirely, and maybe never will, even though a lot of technical workers have moved away or into other fields.  So, again, I wouldn’t suggest that a lot of people move to Seattle to find a tech job, and it’s HeatherLeigh who doesn’t know what she’s talking about (although she admits that hiring is down at Microsoft).  Of course there are always SOME jobs and somebody gets hired even when times are tough, and there are always some hot skillsets (although they can go cold fast).  My point is that, in general, finding a job was EASY in 1998 in Seattle, and pay was good, and that is absolutely not the case now.  Personally, I will probably have to find work outside of the tech industry.  If anyone thinks I’m wrong, then quit your job and go find a better paying position with another company, and let me know how that goes for you.

  73. HeatherLeigh says:

    1) Because you refer to what Microsoft pays contractors. Again, the agencies pay the contractors, not Microsoft. The agencies set the pay rate. They determine the mark-up. How do I know this? I worked in that business. I know exactly how it works. I’m not sure why that is diffucult to understand.

    2) Knowing what *you* got paid as a contractor is different than knowing what everyone got paid. You are one data point. And as for you making any assumptions about what FTEs get paid, you don’t know.

    3) The paycut for contractors was the decision of the agency. We negotiated the rates we pay the agencies (known as the billing rate), not the amount the agencies pay you (known as the pay rate). It’s simple math. The agencies made the decision as to whther they wanted the change to impact their markup, their pay rate, or a little of each.

    4) The fact that "hiring" is down at Microsoft, does not apply to contractors. We don’t "hire" them, we contract them. It is the agency that does the hiring. I don’t know if we are bringing on less contractors; possibly.  But we were never "hiring" them. Again, why is it so hard to understand that the agency is the employer?

    5) I don’t disagree that it’s harder for people to find a job in Seattle. But since the agencies pay the contractors, then *they* are the ones paying them poorly. As for whether we pay FTEs poorly, how would you know? I am an FTE and you are not. Who are people supposed to believe?

    6) If at any point as a contractor, you felt that Microsoft was your employer, you were and are mistaken. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it.


  74. Jason Vanderlight says:

    I’m a v- and my contract will end soon and I have told that I’m not seeking to renew it.

    Not only do v- get paid lowly, we do not even get to attend company offsites or attend company meetings. Some emails are only for FTE’s, and even if its job-related, another FTE would have to forward the email to me.

    Some internal sites which are also job-related can’t be access by v-, and clearly stated,for FTE only.

    v- are ‘monkeys’ assigned to the FTE so they can just throw work at you and make you work so they shine. v- are maid to work long hours especially during campaigns or product launches. FTE will usually come in the morning and say ‘Are you done?’.

    Once a customers knows that you’re a contract, they’ll even treat you differently, bad. Your business card doesn’t have the Microsoft logo on it, and if you’re lucky, they will print it in blue.

    When it comes to bonus or increment, don’t bother. As v-, you’re not entitled to any.

    If you want to join MSFT, make sure you join as FTE.

  75. HeatherLeigh says:

    Again employees and contractors are not the same thing. People taking a contract shouldn’t expect them to be. There are positives and negatives to each.

  76. John says:

    When I first started my contract at Microsoft, it was my first contract work ever, and I was a little concerned about the bad treatment of other contract workers that I was hearing about. After joining my group, I realized quickly that it really all depends on the group you’re with. I was welcomed with arms wide-open.

    My bosses have shown a ton of gratitude and respect for my contribution to the team. The other contract workers in the group are also treated the same way, as equals. I’ve now been with the group for 3 and a half years, and they’ve given me a lot of flexibility for the last 3 years. I’ve been allowed to work remotely even after moving to different cities for personal reasons. I’m allowed to work independently without much micro-managing from my bosses, and my input and ideas are always welcomed and encouraged.

    My position allows me to work with hundreds of other FTEs, from many different groups, and I’ve only experienced someone looking down on me once, by a manager of a different group. But I also see him doing the same thing to other FTEs, so it’s really more his personality than of me being a contract worker. All other FTEs I’ve had a chance to work with have all been extremely respectful, are always friendly towards me, and do not treat me any differently than their fellow FTEs.

    My experience with Microsoft has been nothing but great so far. In fact, I’ve been treated with a lot more respect by my group at Microsoft than at most of my other permanent jobs in the past.

    I do realize that others’ experiences might not be as great, and I feel very fortunate to have ended up with the group I’ve ended up with.

  77. DontFenceMeIn says:

    My experience and perspective is a little different. I did not expect to be treated like a full-time employee, but I did expect to be treated more like an independent or freelancer.  In other freelance situations, for similar large corporations, I’ve been mostly excluded and/or exempted from company meetings and picnics. In those situations, I’ve also been given discrete, defined assignments of clear scope.

    As far as the work process goes, I feel a little too much like an employee, often having to hunt people down, figure out how to get to resources on internal Web sites and so on. I’m used to being sent a creative brief, all the materials I need, a deadline, and then left to produce.

  78. HeatherLeigh says:

    DontFenceMeIn – sounds like you are in a creative field. I haven’t had any experience with that so wish I could comment. But yeah, sometimes you do have to chase down your own stuff here. Regardless of your employment status.

  79. Eric says:

    Heather –

    In response to #3 above, you are correct – Microsoft changed the bill rates of contract positions, not the pay rates of the individual workers.  While this may be an important point legally, the end result was the same.  Knowing full well this rate hit would be passed entirely onto the employee doing the work, Microsoft decided that the work was worth 10% less.

    Anecdotally, I saw a sharp decrease in the quality of new contractors starting on my team.  While this is only a single data point, 60% of new contractors on my team were not kept past three months.  Previously, every single contractor finished a 1 year contract.  Remember – you get what you pay for.  If the work is valued less, you will get less valuable workers.

    In response to #6 : I have to tell you, after looking at the IRS common law rules on employment, Microsoft is squarely in a grey area regarding employment status.  Take a look at this link, specifically the section on behavioral control.,,id=99921,00.html

    Microsoft has spent much time, money, and effort to move out of this legal grey area, but it remains.

    Personally, I have enjoyed contracting at Microsoft.  The only problem I have ever experienced there is  occasionally running into FTE’s outside my group / division who are wholly unresponsive to matters requiring their attention.  That is, until I start rolling up the GAL and looping in their management structure. 😉



  80. HeatherLeigh says:

    Eric – not true that the "rate hit" was passed entirely to the employee. Some agencies adjusted their margins.  And it was totally up to those agencies to decide how to handle. Some of those agencies, in certain situation, did nothing more than adminster payroll. Is that worth the same as the situation where they actually found the talent? Things aren’t always as they seem.

    I don’t like hearing that the perceived quality of contractors on your team decreased. Boo! I haven’t heard this from other groups.

    I can’t really say anything about the legal stuff….not really qualified to discuss that at all. But if anyone wants to talk about fashion, I’m game and totally qualified. 🙂

  81. BN says:

    I have a candidate that is a fabulous a- at MSFT.  He’s approaching his 100-day break.  I have a v- opportunity back at MSFT for which he is a great fit.  Can he move from an a- status to a v- status without have to start and/or complete his 100-day break?

  82. NT says:

    I’ve been a v- at MSFT for almost two years and have had a great experience.  I’m a mother of two very young children, and wasn’t interested in being a being a full time stay-at-home mom, but wanted work/life balance to spend time with my kids.  I have a Masters Degree and 13 years in my field (a technology field closely tied to a flagship MSFT product) and wanted work that was challenging, paid well, and offered flexibility, but didn’t require a M-F 40+ hr/wk plus travel commitment.  Very few great companies offer part-time options at a professional level, which is why I chose to leave my secure FTE position with another large global company to take project work as a vendor.  

    There are v- contracts for 20-30 hrs/wk that require strategy vs. execution, which is exactly what I was looking for.  The trade off is that I’m not a MSFT employee therefore am not treated as such, and every 6-12 months I’m looking for another project and feeling the job hunt stress regularly.  It’s true, a- and v- contracts can legally end at a moment’s notice.  I prefer the vendor model of NOT having a workspace as I work well at home and enjoy only coming to the office for meetings.  For me the trade off is ideal for my family.  

    The pay rates depend on the agency, their negotiation power with bill rates, and offering reasonable margins.  Every agency has their set margins but in my mind, anything in life is negotiable. 🙂 Don’t feel like you have to take the pay rate you are quoted as law.  It never hurts to ask for more and present a clear case for why you are worth it. 🙂 GL out there.

    Heather, this blog post has been very interesting!  Thank you!

  83. NT says:

    Meant to add that I’ve had two managers as a v- and they were both great.  They involved me with their management chain, team meetings, and gave me opportunities to expand my skillset.  I’ve always felt like my managers get credit for a lot of the work we do, but I’m ok with that.  I’m just there to earn a paycheck and deliver my projects on time.  With MSFT you need to check your ego at the door.  

  84. M Dot says:

    Hi Heather,

    I contracted at Microsoft from 2006-2007 and I wish to go back. Can you give an updated list of all the vendors and contracting agencies that represent Microsoft in the Seattle area?

    Thank you.

  85. HeatherLeigh says:

    NT – thanks for sharing your experience.

    M Dot – I don’t know that a list like that exists externally. I think that you would need to contact the individual firms and ask them about what kind of business they have with Microsoft. Sorry, I wish it was easier.

  86. Nadyr says:

    This thread has proven to be quite interesting, even though it died months ago.  I have to admit, I have a little bit of a problem with the 'equal but separate' attitude I see put into text.  

    I understand what Heather is saying with regards to vendors are not FTE's, etc. etc. etc.  But there's a real gray area that's being entered into here with regards to that.  Yes, the vendor is the one who cuts your paycheck.  Yes, they're the ones who provide your benefits and your vacation time and all that other stuff.  

    But here's where the logic sort of hits a screeching halt:  You work -at- Microsoft.  You're on campus, day in and day out.  The only people you report to are blue badges.  You have no interaction with your vendor agency, for all intents and purposes.  Now if you're just there for a month or two?  Sure, that's clearly a vendor/temp worker relationship.  But it seems there are a great many people who have been there for, literally, years, as a vendor.  The situation changes at some point.  If you go to the same office on the same campus every day for 3 years and you report to Microsoft management, working on Microsoft servers or Microsoft code or Microsoft infrastructure, the 'mostly equal but not quite' bit really starts to look a little odd.  

    I was recently offered a position with a core vendor as a v dash worker for a specialized aspect of MSFT that very few people can actually do.  I was all set to take it, but now I don't know.  It appears as though even though I'm a senior level talent there's an attitude that somehow my skills should be viewed as not essential or not as worthy of equal treatment of some H1(b) who happens to have a different colored ID card.

    The part that makes it hard for me to reconcile this justification is due to how little  it would take to create an 'equal but equal' situation for the long-term vendor types.  I mean really, what would it entail?  Give access to the employee store, set an extra plate at a company party or launch celebration, maybe let the person sign up for the baseball league?  These are tiny things that wouldn't affect MSFT in the slightest and would create a lot of goodwill towards their "full time but not really" employees.  I can't imagine the vendors work any less hard than the FTE's.  I know MSFT isn't just contracting out scut work, because the position I've been offered is a high skill area that requires specialized knowledge, has a salary pushing 6 figures (which is above average for the sector of IT it falls under), and is in a crucial area for MSFT's long-term growth plans.  It's hard to justify unequal treatment for something like that when one is performing such a crucial role  It's starting to seem a bit dodgy to me.  I'm beginning to ask myself why it is they're contracting this thing out ad infinitum instead of increasing headcount.

  87. v-ba says:

    i have recently been  hired as a business analyst in SMSG… its a contract position innitially for a year placed out of bangalore… is this a best way to start my career in microsoft… is there any chance that in future i might be considered for a regular role.. does the 100 day period also apply to me???

  88. HeatherLeigh says:

    Grr…I am beyond frustrated…my response to v-ba disappeared as well (or I guess technically never posted).

    v-ba, not sure if it's the best way…depends on a number of factors: your performance, the kind sof roles that might open and how closely they match your background. A contract role can certainly provide some good visibility.

  89. TGergory says:

    Wow, this has to be one of the ongest running blog posts on MSDN. Heather, thanks for keeping to discussion on track for the past seven(!) years.  My question has to do with timing and and whether a- opportunities are fully on the upswing in Redmond post recession and layoffs. I am on the east coast and was planning to come to Seattle in late 2008, but then the recession hit and I didn't come. Is this a good time?

  90. MWeathers says:

    I am a graduate with an Associates in computers and electronics. Where would I look to find contractor positions with MS? I am continuing my education for my BA in IT with a concentration in Software Engineering.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  you can email me at as well.

    Thank you

  91. previous a- worker says:

    Honestly, I would not recommend working at Microsoft on a contract role. At my role, I worked there for about a year and a half and shown the door. They seemed to view their employees as replaceable. Once you hit your 100-day break they find someone else to do your work. They value saving money (not paying contract workers benefits) over rewarding their employees. I would recommend a better company like Google who takes care of their employees.

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