Matthew Sawtell



The Five Simple Rules to Being a White Collar Contractor ® Matthew A. Sawtell

1) There is no “30 years and a gold watch”.

  • No matter how well you do your job, no matter how great your knowledge or skill, your employment will always be “short term”. You have to watch out for yourself at all times.

2) You have no enemies, or friends – just clients.

  • When you do not know where your next paycheck is going to come from, it is wise not “burn bridges” or grow too attached to one company. You may be working for the “jerk” and/or “competition” the next day. Loyalty ends with the last paycheck.

3) Your reputation dictates your livelihood.

  • It does not appear on your resume or your degree, but it is there when you are evaluated. It takes years to build, and only seconds to destroy. It is intangible and not easy to quantify, but it exists none the less. When times are bad, it is the one thing that ensures that access to good paying work is available. It is a Contactor’s greatest asset or deadliest weakness. Treat it wisely and you will be awarded.

4) Know your costs before agreeing to a contract.

  • Know how much it will cost to live near, or commute to, the client – in terms of taxes, insurance, housing, food, moving expenses, etc. You only get one chance to set a pay rate that you and your loved ones can live comfortably in good times, and tolerably exist in bad. Rarely, if ever, will you get the chance to “renegotiate the contact”.

5) Live Light, Be Prepared.

  • Keep nothing physical that you are not willing to pack up and carry 300 miles in the middle of the night yourself. Know where your important documents are located at all times (birth certificate, passport, college transcripts, certifications, etc.) so you are able to present them to the client when the contract paperwork is to be signed. To be a Contactor is to react quickly to change and manage it without pause. Seek another profession if you cannot do this.

Usage Note: You are welcome to occasionally reprint or quote these rules pretty much anywhere (presentations, papers, blogs with ads, etc). If you're not outright merchandizing, you're probably fine. Just be sure to attribute those reprints or quotes to me at

Questions about the Rules/Requesting Interviews/Making Merchandizing Offers: Please E-mail me first, I will not accept phone calls unless agreed to by e-mail. While I roam the Internet forums around the English speaking world, I do not have any social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. However, the other Matthew Sawtells in this small electronic world do. Please be kind and not to bother them, they will most likely have no clue what you are talking about.

Donations: If you felt like these rules have helped, humored, angered, appalled, or invoked any other strong human emotion, you can mail your two cents (or larger denominations) to my current home address. Sorry, I do not have Paypal, or any other electronic payment account. If the donation is large enough, I will mail you back a 8 ½ x 11 sheet of the Rules, suitable for framing and hanging on the wall at your home or office cubical.

Copyright 2002 - 2010, Matthew Sawtell, All Rights Reserved
"Central Michigan University" logo & "CMU" are registered trademarks of Central Michigan University.
No infringement on this trademark is intended from the use on this site.

Website designed and maintained by: Absolute Web Site Design