Working as a contractor certainly has its benefits – from setting your own hours to deciding which jobs you want to take on. However, actually finding the work can be tricky and for those new to contracting it can be a big change compared to what you’re used to when looking for permanent roles.
Whether you’re new to contracting and trying to figure out a strategy for building your business, or you’re a seasoned contractor who wants to find a few new clients, here are our top tips to securing a contract.
Make the most of your CV
For any type of job application, your curriculum vitae must be sparkling in order to help ensure you stand out from the crowd. Keep the document to two pages max, focus on your achievements and don’t forget to proofread it several times to make sure it is free from errors.
Perfect your interview techniques
While permanent jobs often have a long and drawn-out interview process, with some candidates attending as many as five sessions – not to mention various tests and assessments – most contractor placements are made after just a single interview and the decision period may take just a couple of days or an offer could be made on the spot.
This means that you must bring your A-game to the meeting because you really will only have one chance to make a good impression. So, be sure to dress appropriately and prepare well in advance, learning as much as you can about the company and the type of work you’ll be asked to do.
Be a strong negotiator
Success as a contractor relies heavily on the ability to negotiate a contract, as this can help to ensure you get what you want from each project – from your working hours and pay to your start date. Remember that most employers will be looking for contractors to begin working as soon as possible – so if you are available for an immediate start, that will be an excellent bargaining chip.
Enhance your networking skills
Building professional relationships is a great way to get ahead in any industry – and when you’re a contractor, hearing about a project and securing a contract is often a case of knowing the right people. There are many different approaches you can take to networking: attending events, using social media sites like LinkedIn and making introductions are all useful techniques that can yield excellent results.
Following up on job opportunities requires a delicate balance of making sure you’re heard, without being annoying. Sending off emails to chase up a contract and sitting around for the phone to ring rarely work, as emails can be easily ignored and a watched phone never rings. Instead, pick up the phone yourself and make a follow-up call. Initiating a conversation means that if you do get through, you’ll be more likely to make a lasting impression and you might gather some useful information in the process. Be sure to also keep a record of who you call, when and what is discussed.
Being a contractor can take a lot of effort and the process of finding work can take time that you would otherwise spend building your brand or enjoying activities with your family. The last thing you want to have to do after a hard day’s work is think about your accounts and finances, so why not consider employing the services of an umbrella company such as PayStream? This way, all paperwork will be handled for you, while tax and National Insurance deductions will be made on your behalf, leaving you free to concentrate on contracting.