Finding contract work isn’t like finding a permanent job. Hiring permanent staff takes a long time, but contract roles are sometimes offered on the spot, or just on the recommendation of a recruitment agency. From the employer’s perspective, the risks of hiring the wrong contractor are low, while it can be difficult to move on a permanent employee who is under-performing.
So you can use this to your advantage when looking for contracting work. By being agile and persistent, you’ll soon find that you’re picking and choosing the contracts you want to do. ContractingWISE has been working with some of the best contractors for years – here are our top tips on finding your first contracting opportunities:
Write a contractor CV
Forget a generic CV – you need to hit the key points for your contracting role. This means emphasising skills, experience and the contract requirements. Ideally you’ll tailor your CV for each contract job. Remember to make it short and include a profile, a list of skills and a list of achievements on the front page.
Fix your rate
How much is your time worth? Figuring out your price will help you filter contractor vacancies so that you can target the contracting roles you really want and can get. Remember that you need to pay your own pension, taxes and National Insurance contributions, and you have little job security so factor that into your contractor rate. Most employees cost a company around 125 percent of their salary.
Be tenacious with the agencies
Find the recruitment agencies and websites in your field and get your CV out to them, at least one month before you are free for your next contract. Then ring them up the next day. Ask what other jobs there are, and what contracting opportunities might be available. Search the websites every day and apply for any suitable new roles that have been added, then chase up those applications in the afternoon. Target newer contractor vacancies first as contracts usually get picked up quickly.
Network, network, network
This applies to social media and real life. Sites like LinkedIn have become a central part of recruiters’ tools, so be active and you’ll get noticed. Go to industry events and talk to people – a large number of jobs are filled without ever being advertised.
Follow up and stay up-to-date
The seasoned contract finder knows that effort tends to be rewarded. Following up your applications and searches leads to contracts and persistence usually pays off. This applies just as much after you’ve found a contract so don’t let yourself go off the boil. If you have a six month contract, then you should start looking again at least three months before the end date.
Don’t worry if you get stuck or if your diary isn’t full as soon as you start contracting – our long experience of working with contractors shows that it can take a little time to get into your stride. If you have any questions or need to find a sounding board, please get in touch with us – just like the best contractors, we value long-term relationships.