The very fact that an individual is considering leaving a permanent job to run their own IT contracting business, infers that they possess many of the attributes required to make a proper go of it.
Its a rewarding career choice not only in financial terms, but it also opens up the possibility to gain experience in many technologies and in multiple business sectors compared to permanent work.
Contractors come from all backgrounds, but the career contractors, i.e. those who attain work with little effort, and are held in high regard by the clients and agencies alike, share some common qualities that make them successful.
1. Being a self starter
Contractors are business men or women who source their own work, negotiate rates and renewals. As well as that there are insurances to think about and if you are working away from home, low cost accommodation to be found. These are not considerations when you are in permanent employment, so being self reliant will help you tackle these things with ease.
2. Handling new environments
When you start a new contract, you’ll be faced with new ways of working and new people to get to know. Every client site is different and its your job to align your working practices with others on the project.
You will be expected to get up to speed with the project far faster than a permanent member of staff, which with the experience you’ll gain as you move from contact to contract, this will become easier.
Although there are many job sites dedicated to IT contracting, once established you’ll find that many jobs are found through word of mouth. For example an agent may call you when you are already on a project, and ask if you could recommend a couple of people with a similar skill set to yourself. The reverse is true, and you may find yourself being called up as you have been recommended by a colleague from a previous contract.
LinkedIn has become the popular way that recruitment agents can refine searches for possible candidates to fill positions they have, so its always worth keeping your profiler up date and to add each workplace to your profile.
4. Keeping your skills up to date
It goes without saying that the more skill sets you have as an IT contractor, they more breadth of contracts you can apply for. Normally, you’ll pick up new skills on the job, which you can then put on your CV, but if there are skills that you lack, then look for online training materials.
5. Become a Guru
Contractors are generally brought into a project to provide skills that are available in enough quantities amongst the permanent staff. So, if you build up and become a specialist in a particular area, then you will find that you can command rates above the norm for that position.
The reason for this is because when a client hires a proven specialist contractor, the risk is removed that they cannot do the job, and so the productivity gains that they will achieve not mention the mentoring of less experienced permanents they will undertake, makes paying the higher rate well worth it to the client.
Contracting rates varies with skill set and business area. Right now though, the market is very buoyant.
There are 2 times when rate rise negotiation are most appropriate. The first is that the outset, when the agent is telling you about the role and that is when you must let them know you have highly sought after experience in the field, and as such expect to be paid a premium.
The second most popular time for negotiating a rate rise is when the initial contract end date is coming looming, and the client is happy with your work and wants to renew your contract. This is the point at which you call the agent, let him know how well you are regarded in the team, and ask for a modest rate rise. This may come out of the agents margin just to keep you on the project, but that’s fair since there is very little for him to do in this second or subsequent stints other than reissue a new contract.
6. Looking after money
You are responsible for keeping the company finances in good shape. So you need to ensure that you have or acquire the necessary budgeting skills. A good contractor accountant backed with an informative portal will do 95% of this for you, provided you stick to the plans they lay out for you!