6 top tips for first time IT contractors
So, you've decided to take the plunge and leave permanent employment to become a IT contractor.
While there are many benefits, including potential financial advantages and more flexible working hours, there is much more to successful contracting than having your timesheets signed. In order for your contracting jobs to have any longevity, you should ensure that your clients are satisfied and that your career is moving forward. Although it may be quite daunting, following these tips can help alleviate any concerns.
Deliver what you promise
If you fail to deliver what you have promised, your client will soon realise they can live without you. It is always better to under promise and over deliver than the other way round. In addition, you should sporadically communicate your achievements to your clients; make it easy for them to understand where their money is going and the value you bring to their business.
Ensure your CV is always bang up-to-date and well laid-out when you apply for new contract roles. Your CV should be tailored to suit each contract application; if the employer is looking for a certain skill set, make sure you highlight your experience.
Selling yourself is crucial when it comes to contracting – don't underestimate the power of a professional sales approach to ensure you negotiate the best rates. Decide what your rate will be prior to entering the market and make sure you are not over or under charging; charge what you believe you are worth. If you charge too little, you could portray the wrong image to your client and end up doing a job that is too junior for you. Similarly, too higher rate could see your client opt for a lower cost contractor with similar experience.
You'll probably find that your first contract requires you to have a certain level of business insurance cover. Usually this includes professional indemnity insurance, which covers against mistakes you make in advice or services provided to a client, and also public liability insurance, which covers against allegations of injury caused to third parties or damage caused to third party property. You may also want to cover your laptop and smartphone against accidental damage. Find out more about our insurance for IT professionals.
Make the most of the power of the web and keep in touch with other contractors. Some of the most professional and successful contractors secure positions through existing contacts, such as ex-clients or agents they have worked with before. A personal recommendation from a respected consultant holds much gravitas and can easily sway potential clients.
Some projects will require a lot of dedication and energy for long periods of time. However, you won't be able to afford to take six months off to recuperate. Chances are, within a couple of months of finishing one project you'll be starting another. Just as when you were in permanent employment, give yourself holiday time to relax. Avoid a burn-out and increase the chances of a long career in contracting by making sure you have a healthy balance between work and rest.
Enjoy what you do
Contractors who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do tend to be the ones who succeed. As long as demand is high and you are good at your job, you should have no trouble securing your next contract.