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what does "on the bench" mean?

John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
i'm at my first entry-level c/c++ job and am working on
learning java to pass the SCPJ2 and make the transition.
I've never heard the "on the bench" term before. What's it mean?
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
John Gabriele:
On the "bench" refers to the time that you are in-between projects. A good many Java positions involve 3-6 month projects.
So there are times where there might not be any work between projects - this is refered to as "on the bench".
Maintaining a "bench" is expensive for companies - as they usually keep paying your salary (at the same rate as if you were working). Some of this downtime is necessary - for training/vacation/etc.
For me, as a new hire. I basically used my time to prepare for the SJCP. Unfortunately, I was laid off after 12 weeks on the bench.

I am planning on hitting the job market this weekend - and will post the results here on the board as soon as things get rolling.
John Coxey

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
thanks for the explanation john,
wow! i wouldn't think a company would keep anyone around
for that long with nothing to do! shows what i know about
this subject. you must've been quite valuable for them
to hang on to you for 12 weeks on the bench.
there's contractors here where i work as well as regular
employees (like me). evidently, the contractors make more
money than the regular employees and the contractor's
companies make more money still.
i'm curious,
does the term "on the bench" apply to contractors as well?
i'd bet that when a contractor finishes a contract, their
contracting company (which pays the contractor) says, "ok,
we'll call you again when we have something for you. until
then, you've got some cash saved up, right?"
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
The expression "on the bench" comes from baseball. A team only has 9 players on the field but carries a roster of 24 players. Although some of those players are pitchers who are resting, the remainder are called "bench players" who are waiting for a player to be injured or for an emergency pinch-hitting situation.
Many consulting firms hold on to someone even though they have no work because they expect work to come shortly. Better to have the body in place when needed than o have to run out and hire someone to fill a spot in an emergnecy especially if you are happy with the skills of that person.

Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
thanks for the reply tom,
i get the b-ball reference. i just worded my question poorly,
all i meant was, when a software company doesn't need a
contractor anymore, i'm assuming it's too expensive to bench
him or her for any length of time (being that the sw company
pays the consulting firm very very good $ for the contractor),
like they might a regular salaried employee.
now, do consulting firms ever "bench" their on-hand consultants?
kinda' like, keeping them on retainer, so they don't go off
to some other consulting firm who promises immediate employment?
anyway, i'm just curious. it would likely be a while before i'd
be qualified to be a consultant.
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
John Gabriele:
The bench time is a game.
Why this outfit decided to spend the $$ for relocation out to Denver and $$ for relocation back to Philly (if I want it), plus 12 weeks pay + 4 weeks additional severance pay/vacation, is a good question.
I guess they anticipated a good deal of work from the telecommunications industry - but that it never materialized.
With the capital outlay - I am surprised I wasn't put on a Business Analyst role for 2 or 3 months (which they are hiring for).
Such is the game.
John Coxey
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
You are getting confused here.
The consulting company is your employer - not the company that you are being "rented" out to.
When the company you are being "rented" out to terminates their "lease" on you - you return to your employer (the consulting company).
The consulting company then places you either on the bench or in a new assignment. If you are on the bench, the consulting company pays your wages - hence you cut into their profits.
Now, in this game you have to keep a bench. Customer requirements change daily and as a consulting corporation you need to respond quickly - one of your selling points to your customers.
With me, my company was going to "rent" me to either Qwest or AT&T Broadband as a Java programmer. Well, neither position came about. So they tried to find me other work. For whatever reason, they felt their cost/benefit ratio was getting to high, so they cut me loose. Hence, the term "flesh peddlers."
Will I get called back? Who knows? Who cares? I don't have time to pout about and feel sorry for myself. And I went into this arrangement realizing that I could get my butt canned at any old time. Hence, I am working/been working on transferrable job skills (on the technical side).
The same will apply to the new gig. Anyone that tells you that they offer job security is full of it. I knew this going in - ever since I was in the trucking industry. So it doesn't really bother me that much. Plus I am single - no family - so it's more of an inconvenience than anything else.
This is why I keep preaching people skills on this board so much. You gotta be able to get along with / succeed with anyone / everyone. Because who knows where you will be tomorrow? And I love meeting / shooting the crap with people and thus I think am pretty good at the interview process. And thus, offer a ton of (what I hope is good advice on this board - but sometimes a total rant)
Hope this straightens out the confusion. My advice, get all the training you can get. And be flexible. It's a crazy world out there.
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
thanks for the "rant" john.
sorry it took me so long to get back to this thread.
good luck with the job search next week.
Tony Alicea

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
Thanks John C.
It's always good to read your "rants"

Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
subject: what does "on the bench" mean?
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