Top 10 tips for a successful contracting career

13.04.20

Although working full-time means employee perks and job security, nothing beats working for yourself.

Contracting offers flexibility, variety, experience, better pay, and the opportunity to climb the career ladder whenever you’re ready; not just when your senior manager retires!

However, it’s important to note that contracting isn’t a walk in the park; you have to work hard if you want to secure contracts and sustain a decent income. Below, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you enjoy a long and rewarding career as a contractor.

 

Deliver results

First up, you should always stay focused on delivering results. Every client you work with hired you for a reason. Help them achieve their goals and they’re more likely to work with you again in the future. Under-promise, over-deliver, and you’ll never be short of contracts.

 

Build relationships

As a contractor, you should always be in recruitment mode. You might think you can relax as soon as you’ve signed a six-month contract with a business, but those six months will pass by quickly. Stay in contact with your valued clients on social media and in person, and make sure you’re the first name they think of when they’re next looking for an expert in your niche.

 

Don’t price yourself out of the market

You might be the most experienced contractor in your area, but if you’re charging too much for your services, you’ll struggle to secure work. Before you start pitching your services, you should settle on a rate; we recommend researching into the average for your industry and sitting somewhere in the middle. You can negotiate higher figures on a client-to-client basis.

 

Don’t work for peanuts

Having said that, you shouldn’t work for less than you deserve. It’s human instinct to want to undercut a competitor, but if you’re underpricing yourself and work for virtually nothing, you’ll struggle to win lucrative contracts as hiring managers won’t see you as a serious player.

 

Share your successes

Back to selling yourself. Even when you’re working with a client, it’s important to show them the value you’re bringing to the table, so communicate achievements and “small wins” via email or Slack. By offering progress reports and catch-ups with clients, you can reinforce your worth. Make yourself accountable, try to impress, and you’ll always come out on top.

 

Never stop learning

Whether you work in IT or construction, it’s important that you keep an eye on the wider industry and never stop learning. Professional development is so important – if you’re on the ball and know what you’re talking about, you’ll always be one step ahead of the competition.

 

Take a break

As a contractor, it’s easy to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way, which can often mean you work more hours than you’d like. Know when to take a break, get some rest and take care of yourself. If you’re always in work-mode, you won’t perform at your best.

 

Other contractors are your friend

Don’t assume that other contractors are after your contacts and opportunities. Sure, you’ll meet some unscrupulous characters on your contracting journey, but the vast majority are in the same boat as you, and buddying up with someone in your niche will offer you a sounding board to let off steam after a stressful week in the office. Recommendations from other contractors can also help, and having a colleague who can put you forward for new roles or work with you on larger projects where more manpower is required is valuable, too.

 

Permanent staff aren’t the enemy

There’s a common misconception that permanent members of staff don’t like contractors and freelancers, perhaps because they see them as a threat. Don’t fall into that trap; work hard to connect with permanent members of staff and have them on your side. They might have useful contacts or give you some inside knowledge on day one that makes your job easier.

 

Have fun

Nobody can deny that contracting is hard work, but you should embrace the challenges that come your way rather than see every day as a slog. The more work and effort you put in in the early days of your career, the easier it’ll be to find contracts that are more rewarding both professionally and financially in the years to come. Perhaps you’ll branch out and launch a consulting business, or maybe head back into permanent employment? The possibilities are truly endless, and working as a contractor gives you the freedom to make those choices.

 

At Evolve Contract Services, we’re on hand to help contractors save time and money. Find out more about our umbrella services and get in touch on 0203 744 1229 for a friendly chat.

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