Success Tips for IT Contractors
As the job market changes, many technology experts — both newly minted and workforce veterans — are considering independent contracting. Working as a contractor offers multiple benefits: flexibility, higher earning potential, an easier transition into permanent work, and the opportunity to broaden your skill set. If you’re considering contract work, there are some things you can do to boost your chances of success.
Set the stage
First, do your research. Calculate how much you’ll need to charge to cover taxes, business expenses, and benefits (such as health insurance) and still earn an acceptable living wage. Will you need to purchase hardware or software? Office furniture? Design or develop a website? What about business cards or advertising? Monster suggests figuring out how much you’d need to earn annually as a full-time employee, then dividing that figure by 1,000 to calculate an hourly contract figure.
Next, determine the type of assignments you want (or, at the very least, will accept), including whether and where you’re willing and able to travel. Look beyond money for this step, and consider questions such as these:
- Do you want to build your mobile development skill set?
- Do you want more experience with Big Data projects?
- Do you want to gain expertise in a different field?
CIO points out that part of your goal should be to “diversify your business skills,” so give this step a good deal of thought.
Organization is vital for contract workers. Record everything: appointments, tasks, notes on prospective employers and interviews, and wage offers.
Also be sure that you understand the scope of the assignment, as well as the client’s expectations, before accepting a job. Make sure the parameters of the work are clearly defined, to avoid “scope creep.”
Part of being a successful contract worker is keeping yourself in front of potential employers. Continually network and self-promote. Write articles, blog posts, or books in your area of expertise. Other ways to market yourself are by speaking or teaching at user groups or conferences, for example.
Your reputation is vital, so also work on your “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork, and do your best to build a strong relationship with every client. Doing so can net you referrals and repeat work — or even become a bridge to permanent employment, should you desire.
Remember that portfolio you started? Never stop building it. Your portfolio should ideally contain examples that showcase your complete skill set in a range of projects.
In addition to these practices, you can help your IT contracting career take off by partnering with a recruiting firm. Look for a firm that has an established record of successful contract placements, such as Chase Technology Consultants (CTC). The right recruiter can save you the work of hunting down assignments, negotiating pay, and finding jobs that match your interests and requirements. And if you do decide to rejoin the ranks of full-time employees, CTC can help you bridge that transition as well.