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Today we're rounding off our series of blogs on making the switch from permanent to contract work.
First of all we looked at helping you decide whether contracting is the right option for you, weighing up the pros and cons. Next, we discussed the different operating structures available to new contractors, including umbrella companies and setting up your own limited company. Then we turned to finances – how you set a day rate and budget as a contractor.
Finally, we’re looking at perhaps the most important facet of all – how do you actually go about finding contract positions?
The most obvious place to start is looking for advertised vacancies. It’s becoming increasingly common to find contract positions advertised alongside permanent roles, as more and more companies take advantage of the speed and flexibility of a partially contract workforce. Register with online job boards and explore the jobs pages in industry magazines. Get a feeling for the best sources of appropriate vacancies, so that it becomes ever quicker and easier for you to sift through the latest adverts.
However, perusing lists of adverts is just the start. The most successful contractors are much more proactive…
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW...
‘Networking’ isn’t always a popular word, but it’s the absolute crux of the proactive attitude you need to have, at least at the beginning of your contracting career.
Follow up every contact you already have. Find out who might have moved to a new (hiring manager) position. Get in touch with old colleagues who’ve moved to new businesses. Don’t be afraid of sending out an email en masse, letting people know that you’ve taken up contracting and are available for temporary projects. You never know who knows somebody who knows somebody who….
Similarly, don’t discount the power of approaching existing contractors you know to ask for advice and introductions. A mentor in your industry can be incredibly helpful. If you live in a reasonably large town or city, there are likely to be local groups or networks in your sector that you can sign up to.
For all of this, LinkedIn is a hugely useful tool. It will help you manage your contacts, search out new groups and events, and, of course, look for vacancies. It’s undoubtedly more useful for some sectors than others, but if you don’t already have an account, we’d certainly recommend setting one up and trying it out.
YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
You also need to consider other elements of your online presence. For creative professions, a digital portfolio is an absolute must. This doesn’t need to be enormously sophisticated or expensive – you can create a simple website for free using a blogging platform like WordPress – but it will allow potential employers to get a feel for what you can do while they’re browsing. The value of social media varies depending on your line of work – marketers and copywriters may find Twitter most helpful, while those in visual lines of work might get more from Instagram. The important thing is to experiment, and follow up all channels that might get your name out there.
WE WORK FOR YOU
And – yes – we’d always recommend registering with a recruitment agency. A knowledgeable recruitment consultant with a specialist line in contract positions can – honestly – be an enormous asset in your contracting career. Because contract recruitment is such a fast-paced world, reliable recruiters build up extensive client rosters who really will phone on a Friday afternoon looking for a contractor for Monday morning. And those recruiters need a list of great contractors on their books to keep up a reputation for reliability.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and find a contract recruitment consultant who you know is efficient, honest and works for clients you’re really interested in. But once you’ve found one, you really could end up working with them for years.
And the ultimate result of all this effort? The holy grail of contracting – being in a position where you never have to go out to seek new projects, but where exciting, challenging, rewarding work comes direct to you.
Believe us – we know it happens – plenty of the contractors on our books are in just that position.
Fancy joining them? Call 0161 714 0600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.