CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS: Newbie’s, Respect, and the Contractor Circle of Trust


CCOT Being a newbie at a job site sucks!

You will be known as the “new guy” for a few weeks, don’t take it personal. You are in the time immortal judgment phase of your new job. Your reputation starts on day number one. You better ask yourself right now…How do you want to be known?

“The most valuable thing you own is your reputation.”

To put it mildly, contractors are a cantankerous and cynical bunch who will judge you quickly and harshly. They’ve seen all types of wannabes and bullshit artists come and go and you are the fresh meat who just got off the bus for your first day at school.

Your actions and what comes out of your mouth will be put on your permanent record. The world of contracting is a very small one and a person’s reputation precedes them.

Now, I know I can’t help everybody. Some people are just retarded and won’t listen. But that’s good news for you, if you are not completely retarded and you are someone who can follow advice. You might have a chance to move ahead.

The first concept you must get through your head is the concept of respect. I know this seems simple but to many it’s extremely difficult to comprehend.

Respect is not given it’s earned. It doesn’t matter what you did back home. It’s now day one at your new job site and nobody cares what you did before. A major problem with people today is that they believe they deserve respect just because they were this or that in the military or somebody important at the job they left or took such and such tactical shooting course. All that doesn’t mean you get respect handed to you on day one.

Much of our culture believes that you do not have any obligation to respect someone unless or until they respect you first. This is completely ass-backwards wrong and the main reason why so many get labeled an ass-hat and never get “in” on the inside information. I’ll talk about the inside information later.

But first, like it or not, it works this way. Those who are already on the job site before you are your elders in the village. To prove you’re worthy of their approval and enter into manhood, you must be polite and give their accomplishments respect. It’s not ass kissing. By showing your respect for the dues they (your elders) have paid, and perform your job well, then you will in turn “earn” their respect. It’s their world. You’re the new guy.

It’s also important to realize that it’s not a sign of weakness to not know what the fuck you’re doing on the first day. We’ve all been there and the veterans will help you learn your job. They know you've just been dropped into an alien environment and you may be wondering how the hell you got yourself into this mess.

Here are the top 3 biggest rookie mistakes to make:

#1. If you have never been a Special Operations soldier, don’t say you were.

You are judged on how you perform and what you can do now. Not what you did “back in the day.” Unless you’re extraordinarily charismatic, the quickest way for you to lose all your credibility and have people to talk about you behind your back, will be to talk about yourself and what a “bad ass, been there done that” kind a guy you are. I guarantee they will be talking about what a jackass you are the minute you are out of the room.

#2. Don’t tell every person you meet your life story.

It’s boring and most people are just waiting for you to stop talking so they can talk about themselves. Be a listener.

#3. Not following the chain of command.

Circumventing (going behind your supervisors back) the proper chain of command always results with management solving the problem with draconian, knee jerk measures. This will suck-ass for everybody. This only causes dissension on the team and labels you as a trouble maker, not to be trusted.

Since this relatively new career path is still evolving, the weeding out process to keep all undesirables out of the contracting world has yet to be perfected. Some companies hire people sight unseen. They hire on documentation only with no face to face interview. Even companies that have a strict weeding out process can’t stop all the bone heads from getting through.

There is such a thing as guilt by association.

So with that in mind, I have created the following rules on how to protect yourself from these negative individuals. I’ve also included rules to help you navigate through the fast paced political dynamics that occur within these small companies that have a very fast personnel turnover rate:

Rule #1: It’s a cliche but it’s true. Maintain a great positive attitude. It will be noticed.

Rule #2: Don’t bitch, whine or complain. There is no shortage of negative people to do that. No one wants to be around that type of person. The five minutes you just spent complaining is five minutes you just wasted.

Rule #3: Don’t believe every rumor you hear. Also don’t repeat or spread rumors. When in doubt go to the source.

Rule #4: Error on the side of caution, with trust.

Rule #5: Don’t underestimate people. Looks are deceiving. Just because they “talk the talk” and have all the high speed gear doesn’t mean they know their stuff.

Rule #6: Know who the power players are. I hate the politics that go on in the office just as much as the next guy. You don’t have to be involved in them, but you at least better understand the dynamics of your workplace pecking order.

Why you ask? Sometimes there is a fast turnover rate of personnel within some of the companies. Alliances can shift overnight. When this happens it should be looked at as an opportunity for advancement. The people who stay with a company at least one year or close to it and have proven they are reliable, and are now in a far better position to move up in the company.

Rule #7: Always keep your eyes and ears open to spot an opportunity.

Rule #8: Do not give the benefit of doubt. Be suspicious of everyone until they prove otherwise. Assume something is wrong with your co-workers. Why are they working outside of their home country?

Rule #9: Be very careful of what you say and do. I’ve witnessed more than one person drop a dime on someone for their own advancement. Nothing stays confidential forever. Some people repeat what you said just to have something to say and feel important.

Rule #10: Be a mentor to the new guys. Be the genuine friendly face that welcomes a new team member and gives them advice on how things work around their new job environment. First impressions are everything. This also helps build alliances for the future.

Remember: Network! - Network! - Network!

I mentioned earlier about inside information. The first candidates to be hired for a job are people who are referred by other employees of the company.

The goal of a professional contractor is to keep working and make piles of money. People in the know about other jobs usually don’t want jackasses or retards on the job site with them. Any veteran contractor can tell you, it takes just one asshole on the team to make life miserable for everyone.

If your reputation is that of a dickhead, you can be sure that you are outside the inside track for opportunities.

“The most valuable thing you own is your reputation.”



Jeffrey M. Olson is a USAF veteran and former war mongering, Civilian Contractor of Qatar and Iraq, who’s now the head Thermo-mechanical Manipulator of Metallic Molecular Structures and owner of Olson Iron Works Blacksmith shop. Jeff is also an author. His book “The S.H.T.F Art of War” that deals with an apocalyptic disaster scenario is available on Amazon. Jeff continues to write and provide FREE content on his website