Contracting is a very different experience from working as a permanent employee.However, there are many advantages, the main ones being:
- Greater flexibility
- Varied working environments
- Skills building
- Greater control
- Higher rates of pay
You may already have a contract, be in between, looking for a change or simply planning ahead. Either way, sooner or later, you will need to start the 'Search and Application' process and we have put together some information for you which will help you find and secure that all important contract.
Did you know that, on average, only one third of jobs are advertised? As job levels increase so does the likelihood that they will not be advertised and fall into what is known as the 'hidden market'. Networking will give you access to this market and will ensure that you have a wider range of opportunities to choose from.
Networking is the art of building mutually beneficial relationships with business professionals and potential clients. In the beginning you may find it difficult to approach strangers but if you stay relaxed and prepare your questions carefully, ensuring that you don't pressurise the person you are speaking to, it will become easier and easier.
The key to building successful networks is to develop a list of contacts from social and business functions, and using them to your advantage. Not everyone you engage with will be responsive or even polite but you should not take this personally; accept it for what it is and move on.
Appearance can play an important role in determining your success of failure; it is human nature to be influenced by first impressions. Therefore, you should ensure that you are always smartly presented and, if appropriate, have business cards to present to the people you are networking with.
Although your aim is to increase your chances of securing a new contract, you should remember that networking is a two way thing and you should ensure that you actively engage with the people you speak to, by listening closely to what they have to say.
You should not expect overnight success from networking; it takes time to develop business relationships in the same way as it takes time to build firm friendships - both are worth the effort!
Once a successful network is established, you will find that there is a 'pyramid' effect as contacts in your network introduce you to contacts in theirs. The more contacts you can secure within your particular area, the greater your chance of securing a new position and the more opportunity you will have to source reliable information and advice.
There are hundreds of jobsites on the internet and they can be a really useful resource when looking for a contract. However, as there are so many, you should first look for sites which specialise in your particular industry or skill-set as this will narrow your search and save you time.
Most sites will ask you to post your current C.V. so you should ensure that it is as up to date and as thorough as possible. It may seem an insignificant point, but you should also ensure that your spelling and grammar are accurate and your contact details are current.
From a positive perspective, jobsites will present your credentials to as many potential employers as possible but, on the downside, it may be that you get unsolicited calls that will not help you achieve your aims.
As with internet jobsites, there are general and also specialist recruitment agencies and you should research your best option before approaching them. As you become more experienced as a contractor, you will probably establish a relationship with just one or two agencies. Those that have given you a good service and sourced new contracts with the minimum of fuss.
Recruitment agencies rely on the goodwill of the clients that they deal with and therefore, they will expect the candidates that they present to be of a high standard. Therefore, to ensure your best chance of success you should ensure that you do the following:
You should ensure that any information about the skills that you present on your C.V. or at interview should be wholly accurate. Your agency will be looking to place a candidate that can do the job and has experience in the selected field.
Research the rates that are offered for your skills. Recruitment agents are skilled professionals and they will know if you are being unrealistic; at the same time you should ensure that you are not underselling yourself. This page may be useful: http://www.contractoruk.com/market_stats/index.html .
You should always ensure that you are well prepared for interviews with both the agencies and the clients. You should be well turned out, polite, confident and prompt! For client interviews you should research the organisation thoroughly to make the most relevant presentation of your skills and personality.
Recruitment agents have many appointments every day so if you say that you will meet them for an interview, make sure you are there at the time and place arranged. The same applies to client interviews - you should never make an appointment that you can't or don't intend to keep.
At ContractorUmbrella, we deal with hundreds of recruitment agencies and we have put together a shortlist of companies, that deal with a wide range of contract opportunities. In order to ensure that your C.V. is not sent to a company that will have no use for it, we have put together an industry sector checklist. This will provide us with details of your current skills and also the sectors in which you have experience. When you know that your current contract is coming to an end, please send an updated copy of your C.V. and our completed Industry Sector checklist to your Employee Liaison Officer and wait for that call!