So you’ve reached the end of the line. For whatever reason, you’ve decided that you’re finished with the full-time professional grind. It’s time to make a go of the contracting life, to start enjoying all the flexibility and benefits contract work has to offer. You’re ready to be your own boss, make your own schedule. Time to take the plunge. Only one problem:
You’re freaking out.
It’s a significant transition leaping from a structured, one-to-one employment relationship to a world in which you’re management, marketing agency, human resources and the IT guy – and all before you ever lift a finger for the work you’ve actually been hired to do. You have questions, concerns, anxieties. Maybe you’re no-bones-about-it terrified. The good news: you’re not alone. Most every former staff employee went through the same range of emotions before venturing out as a contractor. How, then, do you go about overcoming that initial fear of contracting?
Start by entering into contract work with a comprehensive plan. You won’t get far flying blind, and the more variables you address in advance will give you the peace of mind in your career as a contractor to successfully see it through. Here’s what to consider:
Rates. You’ll want to have a solid idea what the going rate is for a contractor with your skill set and experience. If you have expertise that’s in high demand or simply have a salary expectation in mind, you can adjust accordingly. Just keep in mind: pricing your services competitively is key to consistently drawing the interest from multiple clients that will keep you busy with work.
Preparation. As much as possible, contractors should be ready to hit the ground running when starting a new contract. Many employers pay top dollar for highly-skilled workers, so you should try to maintain the mindset of going above and beyond, overdelivering on a daily basis through the duration of a project. Be prepared to learn a company’s technology quickly, as well as any important protocols or best practices that may be unique to a business.
Relationships. Forge a strong relationship with the right staffing agency for yourself and your career. This can be instrumental in securing proprietary opportunities – often ones that other contractors will never know even existed. What’s more, agencies have relationships with clients who will trust them when they vouch for your skills, integrity, work history and ability to perform in a given role.
Focus. Think about the companies you’d like to learn from and the sort of work you’d like to be doing. Where will you make valuable contacts and pick up new competencies you can’t get elsewhere? Be deliberate about the contracts you choose and the agencies you choose to partner with on your contracting journey. Done correctly, contracting opportunities offer autonomy over your career, with more flexibility, pay and growth options as you get more contracts under your belt.
These are just a few of the considerations you’ll want to give some thought to before making the leap from perm to contracting. Not only can you overcome the apprehension that comes with any new and unfamiliar experience, but by creating a plan and carefully thinking through your objectives in advance, you’ll be able to land more of the projects that interest you, gain experience with desirable clients and keep developing a toolbox of skills that will help position you for more attractive contract work and better rates in the future.
With PeopleCaddie, it’s easy to make the leap to contract work. Check out our jobs page!