Where do you get these contracts? After all, if employment as such doesn’t exist in the Empire, surely you won’t find any corporations employing hundreds, thousands, or millions of people?
Quite correct. The Imperial corporation, from relatively small examples all the way up to the Big 26, is simply a nexus; capital, communications, computronium, and the most senior levels of management, usually called the Directorate. (Which is not to say that they are all run by boards of directors – Imperial corporate law requires no specific organizational schema, so while there are examples of corporations run by conventional boards, there are also examples of corporations run by AI supervisors, reputation-weighted voting, contractee legislatures, internal prediction markets, Fusions or conflux consensuses, and a variety of other methods.) The Directorate also are not employed by the corporation, instead being rewarded via compensation schemes tied to net profits and other corporate success metrics, as defined by the corporate charter.
More importantly, most work is not contracted directly by the Directorate – and if you were thinking of looking for work in the Directorate, they’ll call you.
Most work is the province of the Initiatives – spun-off “microcorporate” structures with their own internal charter which exist to perform some specific task – execute on a project, develop a software package, run a factory, operate a particular store, or some such, either as a one-time or a recurring task. Such Initiatives can be founded by a single corporation or as a joint venture by many – or even by another Initiative – and can be retained by their founders, transferred elsewhere, or sold as a whole. They receive capital and other resources from their founders, along with their charter and the attention of the Directorate, and usually return whatever profits they make once their obligations are satisfied to their present owners; but Initiatives usually contract for whatever else they need with individuals or other Initiatives, including all the work they need done, managerial, technical, administrative, or otherwise, and any secondary resources they need along the way.
It is among the Initiatives that you are most likely to find counterparties. (It is important to remember that the majority of contracts are short-term or at best renewable; there are almost no “jobs for life”, and so you will be expected to manage your long-term affairs for yourself in many respects. More on this later.) For simple short-term contracts in low- and middle-end fields, the easiest method is to register with Service Gate, ICC, whose dataweave-mediated contract matching and labor market services are used by virtually all Initiatives, and which can therefore find work on a regular basis for all their labor-side clients. And, of course, if you prove a success at a particular Initiative or with a particular team or manager, you can expect to be called on again for their future contracts.
For more senior or specialized positions, you may be able to find work through specialized path-pointers, but in practice, many if not most of these positions are filled through old-fashioned xicé networking; careful attention to one’s professional society and reputation networks will pay dividends here.
Another possible source of counterparties, if you have some starting capital available, is the so-called “bounty economy”. In this, many corporations and Initiatives simply post work they wish to be done, problems they wish solved, and so forth, to a bounty registry, along with the amount they will pay for its completion or solution. (Some, but not all, of these registries let you claim exclusive rights to attempt to solve a given problem for a period of time; others are strictly “winner takes all”.) Whoever does the work or solves the problem receives the bounty. These bounties can be a good source of income for the speculatively inclined.
For completeness, there is also the public contracts channel, to which anyone can post low-value contracts for completion by anyone in the area that chooses to pick them up. While a convenient enough source of petty cash for small favors for anyone, such contracts as a rule don’t amount to enough to be a useful source of primary income.
– Working in the Worlds, Kernuaz Alliés