My Boston gig ended last week and I'm currently enjoying a week off with the kids at my parents' place in Oregon. While I have a few opportunities, I can't help but think there's got to be a better system for connecting developers to contracts. While I'm open to full-time work, I've found that contracts suite me better because of all the conferences I attend and time I take off.
In Denver, there's quite a few gigs available, but they all seem to have the same two problems: 1) no rate is published and 2) you have to go through a recruiter to get them. Recruiters aren't bad people, and I don't mind dealing with them. However, they do tend to take 20% off the top. Most of the recruiters I've worked with in the past are responsible for one thing - the initial introduction. After that, they tend to disappear and you never see them again. However, you're constantly reminded they're there when you realize they're taking 20% of your wages. With a recruiter involved, the rates in Denver are OK, but lower than expected. Without a recruiter, the rates are pretty good.
The best solution I've found to the getting rid of the recruiter-middle-man problem is this blog and networking. When someone contacts me directly for a contract, it's usually easier to negotiate a rate that makes both parties happy. However, most of these contacts come from out of state, so then there's the travel and working-from-home problems. I think I can solve the work-from-home problem by joining something like the Hive Cooperative. As for traveling, I'd rather work in Denver but I'm willing to travel to select cities: namely Boston, NYC and Portland (Oregon). Why those cities? Because I have friends and/or family that live there.
As I'm out here in Oregon this week, I've realized that working in Portland would likely be the most enjoyable for me to travel to. My parents live close by, it's a kick-ass city and it's especially enjoyable during the summer. However, I'm faced with the same problem: how do I connect with folks looking for good help without going through recruiters? According to Dice.com, Portland has a lot of interesting gigs, but they're (once again), all listed by recruiting companies. Does anyone know of a service that connects employers directly with consultants? Or, even better, is anyone out there in Denver or Portland that's looking to hire someone with my skills?