Microsoft Corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products and services.
2 Types of Contract Jobs at Microsoft
Temp staffing agencies
There is a select list of temp staffing agencies for Microsoft for each category of workers so you need to be aware which agencies staff which kind of roles. Some of the temp staffing agencies at Microsoft are Volt, Collabera, Aditi, Compucom, Kelly services, TekSystems
Advantages of working with Temp Staffing contracts
Rates are typically higher than managed services rates because of the higher competition among agencies to get candidates to work for them.
A good contractor may get calls from 3-4 agencies on the same day for the same job opening the day the position is released on the VMS system.
Roles have a broader variety including software design engineer (dev) roles which are rare in managed services contracts which tend to be large maintenance or other keep the lights on projects
Roles are easier to find because they are distributed to multiple agencies who all go out looking for candidates, whereas managed services positions are meant for 1-2 consulting companies- mainly offshore or a few local companies that aren't so well known and don't advertise these positions as openly as the temp agencies.
Once you are selected for a temp position, you can start within 3-4 days of getting offer vs 2-3 weeks for a managed services project which involve a lot of paperwork, statement of work approvals, PO creation, account creation, etc.
Negative- These contracts only last upto 18 months and you then need to take a 6 month break from Microsoft
Managed Services Contracts or Consultants
Contracts are structured as deliverables so they were not subject to the 6 month breaks in temp agency work and could work for multiple years on the same project. Lots of Managers prefer these because they can retain the contractors for longer periods. Contractors like these contracts because they didn't need to worry about taking a 6 month break after 18 months.
Some of the managed services consulting companies are HCL, Accenture, TCS, Chinasoft for technical positions- Filter, Aquent for creative positions, etc
How to get a job at Microsoft
Microsoft has one of the biggest and most diverse opportunities for contract gigs in the Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond WA area. So how do you get these gigs?
Tip 1. Post your resume on job boards like Monster and Dice and put your zip code as 98052 so recruiters know you are local.
Tip 2. Create an attractive profile of yourself on OnContracting
Tip 3. Lookup the approved staffing or consulting vendor companies on thier pages here and you can see what jobs they have open
Tip 4. Find recruiters on the recruiter tab of OnContracting or on Linkedin
Tip 5. Avoid SubContracting Agencies: Subcontracting agencies are Tier 2 agencies that find and submit candidates from job boards to the Direct (Tier 1) vendors of Microsoft for a referral fee. These are recruiters in offshore recruiting call-centers and their only advantage is they know who the direct vendor and the recruiter is. Giving your personal details to an unknown offshore agency increases your risk for identity fraud as many of these offshore agencies have poor security. When you get an email or call from a recruiter telling you they have a contractor job at Microsoft, ask if the recruiter works for the direct vendor, and not a subcontracting agency or implementation partner to the Tier 1 company.
You can verify the list of direct (Tier 1) vendors of Microsoft right here. We don't list subcontractors in our list. If you get a call from one of them that claims they are direct vendors and they are not on this list, ask why they are not listed on OnContracting or call Microsoft and ask to speak with the Procurement Manager that manages staffing agencies.
How many Contractors work at Microsoft
Based on several surveys, ATS/VMS software company reports and news articles, it is estimated that most large companies have an employee to contractor ratio of 1:1 now. Microsoft has 65,000 employees in the US, so we'd estimate it employs 65,000 contractors in the US. While this number may seem high, remember that while most Microsoft employees are engineers, it requires an extensive workforce of contractors for all the non-core work involved in making the company work- like software and map testing, content creation and checking, technical writing, paralegals for drafting contracts, procurement specialists, HR coordinators, recruiters, sourcers, customer service, technical support, delivering groceries, cafeteria, etc.
Does Microsoft convert Contractors to Full-time
Yes. However Microsoft hires contractors for mostly non-core engineering work only. They mostly convert high potential contractors to full-time- in non-core areas like HR, Finance, IT, Testing, Customer support, Business Operations and Marketing. Our estimate of contractor to fulltime conversion would be around 10% or 6,500 out of the 65,000 contractors might get converted every year. Your chances are based on a combination of how desperate the hiring manager is, and what the interviewing process is. For non engineering roles- interviewing is pretty easy as it is mostly HR type questions- how do you work in a team, tell me about a time you were challenged, etc. If you've proven yourself, you have the advantage of knowing the job, the internal tools and the fact that your manager considers you a known quantity- which is a plus to why contract jobs are very desirable at Microsoft.
If not converted, expect 12-18 months term at the most on your contract if through a temp agency. Also remember, contracts can be terminated at any time and a 12 month contract does not mean they are obligated to keep you for 12 months. Manages services contracts can be longer periods but if the project is terminated for some reason you'll be let go instantly.
Types of Contract Jobs at Microsoft and Rates you can make as a Contractor
Microsoft hires contractors from almost every field. Below are some of the common contract job titles and what the day to day job involves.
Software Design Engineer (SDE)
Most SDE roles are full-time roles. When Microsoft hires SDE contractors it is usually for internal IT work or non- core products. Contractor salaries for SDE's range from $45-75/hr on W2/salary
Software Design Engineer in Test (SDET)
Typically involves work such as
Owned test case design and development in feature areas in first generation framework for product for small to mid-sized businesses.
Analyzed specifications and thoroughly inspected product source code to identify test cases; documented test cases and authored test specifications.
Fully automated all tests in C#. Authored functional and scenario tests, extensible test frameworks, and stress tests.
Debugged product failures to isolate failure points, filed clear and concise bug reports, tracked outstanding issues until resolution, and validated fixes.
Contractor Salaries from staffing agencies to SDETs range from $30/hr- $60/hr on W2 (salary)
Software Test Engineer (STE)
Salaries for contract testers is usually from $15/hr-$35/hr on W2
Salaries for .Net developers for contract work at Microsoft Redmond usually range from $30/hr-$75/hr
Examples of the work involved includes
Responsible for troubleshooting technologies including .NET Framework, web services, WCF, SQL Reporting Services, COM/COM+, SQL Server failover clustering, and Network Load Balancing
Assisted in hardware procurement, code deployment, troubleshooting and systems integration
Manage capacity planning, availability and performance of servers
Look after virtualization and x64 migration initiatives and footprint reduction"
Production Engineer 24/7 on call support
Troubleshooting at all application levels (IIS, COM, Web Services, SQL, Analysis Services)
Build Engineer for daily software builds in the lab and troubleshooting builds in C# code
Responsible for scripting and automation of software
Responsible for troubleshooting SQL replication, SQL job failures, and ETL processing"
Animated 3D skeleton rigs in reference to depth-data in order to improve representational accuracy of Microsoft's Kinect user interface.
Provided detailed feedback on game play experience.
Executed a variety of test cases for both Xbox 360 system hardware and software.
Responsible for completing, in depth daily bug reports in a timely manner.
Game Testing rates typically are in between $10/hr and $15/hr on W2 or 1099
Finding a payroll vendor to work as a contractor at Microsoft
Oftentimes a contractor may know a hiring manager that they worked for previously and the Managers asks them to come back to work for them. Since it is risky and cumbersome for Microsoft to hire the contractor directly, they might tell the contractor to 'come' through a preferred agency to make it easy. Since the agency did not put any effort into making the sale, they are expected to charge a lower markup. There is no defined markup and most agencies will typically ask for 20-30%. Looking for an agency to do payrolling for you for 10% over costs, OnContracting can help. Email us.
Reviews of what's it like to work as a Microsoft Contractor
Overall Microsoft is still the most desirable place to work for as fulltime or contractors in Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue and even Silicon Valley. Read more Microsoft contractor reviews on the Reviews tab.
Microsoft Contractor Salaries
Microsoft contractor salaries are typical for an an in-demand tech company. Not the highest but above average. You can see details on the Rates tab.