Working as a contractor can be very financially rewarding and stimulating.
It affords you a career that allows you to experience working within many different companies and charging a premium for your time. You’re also in effect running your own small business.
I’ve been looking after contractors for over 28 years. I was even one for 4 years. Here’s a few tricks learnt along the way.
- You’re a supplier not an employee
That means you need to be continually adding value and working well within the team.
Some long term contractors can fall in the trap of thinking that they are irreplaceable, and stretch the boundary of working well with others.
- Build a buffer
Your contract can be terminated at any point. If you are a casual employee, unless a notice period is stipulated in your contract, you can be let go at a days’ notice. You get paid a premium to work as contractor. That premium includes compensation for your holiday and sick leave. Squirreling 20% of your wage away will make the transition from one contract to the next less bumpy.
- The best time to look for a new contract is when you’re already in one.
That affords you’re not having to take a low paying or less-than-ideal career move contract.
- Looks for ways to make yourself an asset.
This allows you to get contract extensions. Talk to as many department heads as you can, show interest in their projects. Let them see what skills you’re using.
- Future proof yourself.
Your current contract is the springboard into your next one. So choose your contract based on how well it will assist you getting into your next contract. Are the skills being used going to be in high demand?
- Keep in contact with your last contracts peers.
They are your referees, and they are the gateway to getting more work from your last employer. Never bag an employer you’ve left.
The 3 most common reasons why a contract ends (in order) are:
1. The work dries up
2. You didn’t get along well with a few key people.
3. You’re not skilled enough for the job at hand
- Your hours are monitored more closely.
Accountants love to save money anywhere. Contractor’s hours are monitored from time to time. This means checking start and end times. As you don’t get paid for lunch – are you really only taking a 30 minute lunch break? Exaggerating hours worked in timesheets is a sack-able offence and one that sticks to your name when you go looking for the next contract. If you’re a smoker, beware that every cigarette break you take in front of a non-smoker is mentally marked down.
I hope you enjoyed the read.
If you have any questions or additional suggestions, please drop me a line.