If you’re an IT contractor searching for a new IT opportunity, these 6 tips are great to keep in mind. Find a position where you can thrive and find new contract opportunities again and again by using these 6 helpful tips.
1. Pay Attention to In Demand Technology: One of the great things about contract positions is that they’re often a great opportunity to use the latest technology. Because of this, you need to make sure your skills are sharp and that you’re paying attention to which technologies are in demand. This will help you focus your learning, skill building, and side projects on the technologies that will help you earn the most money and make the biggest impact in future contract positions.
2. Show That You Can Blend: In order to be a successful contractor, you have to walk a fine line between blending in and delivering consistent results better than a normal full time employee might be able to. If you want to show potential employers that you can deliver the results they need but still blend in well with any team environment, you need to learn all you can about the company culture and learn how to communicate well with almost everyone. From making sure your body language is approachable to avoiding taking liberties like long lunches and taking sides in office disputes, there are a lot of ways that you can blend in while making sure your work stands out. And, if you have former employers who know you can do this, a reference from them could go a long way towards getting future contracts.
3. GitHub, Website, or Portfolio: While some employers include things like white boarding or coding tests in their contract interview process, most don’t. And yet, all employers feel more confident when they’re hiring someone whose results they’ve seen directly. If you can point these potential contract employers towards your GitHub, website with demonstrations of your work and side projects, or your portfolio this will help you get hired time and time again.
4. Certifications and Continuous Training: If you want a leg up on the competition and a way to clearly demonstrate your skills to hiring managers who have a less-than-nuanced understanding of what you can do, certifications and continuous training are your friends. If your education section on your resume is up to date and includes recent MOOCs, that will show your dedication to learning and growing and your potential to use up-to-date technology on the job. If your resume also includes several certifications, hiring managers will rest assured that you know how to do what you say you do and will be more likely to hire you.
5. Plan for Ups and Downs: Part of being a contractor is anticipating more ups, downs, and uncertainty in your career than most full time employees do. If you want to thrive as an IT contractor, you need to learn how to plan for the ups and downs. This starts with having plenty of savings and a professional contingency plans but also includes the ability to market yourself on social media, expand your professional network so you’re aware of more opportunities, and use your down time learning or working on side projects.
6. You Can and Should Consider Work-Life Balance: While a lot of contractors look at work-life balance as something reserved for full time employees, that doesn’t have to be the case. While you don’t get the same paid time off benefits or other work-life balance improving perks that a full time employee can, you can still look out for companies who stress work-life balance in their company culture. Stressful environments, long hours, and tight deadlines can wear on you during contracts that are longer than 6 months, so make sure you factor in work-life balance when assessing contract opportunities.
While contractors can benefit from advice meant for full time employees, searching for contracts is typically a much different process than searching for a full time position. If you’re a contractor searching for new IT opportunities, these 6 tips will help you thrive.