As we bring this week’s series on IT contracting to a close, Hays’ Daniel Dubbert offers some essential tips for lining up your next job as a contractor.
It’s close to the end date of your first IT contract and you’re asking yourself the question, ‘What next?’.
So far this week, we’ve looked at researching the market, setting up as a contractor, and ensuring you make an impact. The final stage of your journey as an IT contractor is a continuous one, with an aim of bringing in a steady stream of quality contracting work.
To do this, you will need to work on your sales and networking skills and maybe even enlist the professional services of a recruitment company. This will be critical to securing your future prosperity and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
But, aside from seeking help, how can you ensure you won’t be struggling to find work?
Here are three key recommendations for developing a continuous pipeline of work to safeguard your contracting future:
1. Become a salesperson
Companies using contractors are ultimately clients, who are buying services from a relevant provider to address their business needs. As the provider in this context, you need to be able to sell your offering to potential clients and convince them they need to buy from you, rather than from one of the competitors on the market.
The more specialised your skills are, the more challenging this becomes. For example, if your expertise is in a new technology, or if your skill set is only needed in very specific stages of IT projects, finding a company hiring at the right time in the right location can be tricky.
Therefore, you should block out at least a couple of hours per week to do sales-related activity. Look through your existing contacts, search LinkedIn and company websites. Get on the phone to recruitment agencies, hiring managers and decision-makers to work out when they could potentially need you. Building a relationship with them will keep you front of mind when an opportunity comes up.
You should also keep on top of industry news to look out for any potential opportunities. For example, if you’re a transition manager for data centres, you should set up Google alerts for company mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing etc.
Ultimately, you want to work towards building a small number of core clients who will give you regular work, then use your sales activity to plug any work gaps.
2. Build your network
To be a successful contractor, you will need to build up your network – after all, this is where you will get the majority of your business.
Attending industry events and becoming a member of your local professional association is a good way to keep on top of market developments. More importantly, you will develop contacts with other contractors and people working in the IT industry, including recruiters and hiring managers.
Keep in touch with fellow IT contractors you’ve worked with in the past – they can be a very useful source of leads. Hiring managers will often go to them to ask for recommendations when they are looking for extra people to join a project.
This also highlights how important it is to make a positive impact on those around you in every project you take.
As well as building your offline network, you should also work on your online one. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with people professionally and also market yourself. Make sure you optimise your profile and highlight when you’ll be available for your next project, so people know when they could potentially get hold of you.
3. Partner with a recruitment company
From what is described above, you can see that the sales and networking aspect of contracting is probably going to be the toughest part of your job. After all, you’re in your line of work because you’re an IT expert, not because of your cold-calling skills.
That’s why many contractors choose to outsource this element to experienced recruitment companies. As their entire business model is based on matching the right candidate to available roles, these companies have a huge head start on what one individual can accomplish on their own.
If nothing else, you will be able to avoid the stress of trying to find your next contract in your downtime, and will be able to put 100pc into finishing up the current project that you’re working on. Work-life balance is key, after all.
Daniel Dubbert is responsible for managing the IT contracting departments across all of Hays EMEA (France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland).
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.
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