Working as a contractor, freelance worker or self-employed person is a great way to enhance your CV and advance your career. By taking on a variety of roles, you rapidly broaden your skills and experiences and develop new ways to overcome challenges.
Businesses need your expertise and insights and working in a different environment ensures you become highly skilled at delivering solutions in every situation.
However, while career paths in corporate environments are usually clearly defined, working as a contractor means your prospects are entirely in your hands. That can mean you sometimes have to work that bit harder to achieve your ambitions, but here we share some tips on how you can improve your career prospects.
Developing a personal brand as a contractor
Branding is hugely important for companies and the same applies to you. You need to develop a corporate image that potential clients can easily understand and recognise you for the skills and expertise you have to offer.
You must demonstrate your experiences, what you have to offer and your values so clients want to call on you for your expertise. Develop your personal brand by building a portfolio of work, clearly defining what you’re all about and what you can offer potential clients.
Make use of social media and online profiles that show your experiences and what you can offer and make sure you separate the personal from the service you offer.
Make it easy for clients to hire you
To get a better contract and fulfil your career ambitions, make sure clients, recruiters and other professionals can easily find you and get in touch. Too many individuals still make it difficult for clients to instantly get in touch and hire you.
Make use of online platforms – including LinkedIn and a personal website – so you can be easily found and make sure contact details are clearly listed. By shouting about what you have to offer and making it as simple as possible to “buy” you, you will increase the chances of securing the next big contract.
Don’t think like an employee – be entrepreneurial
By working in the midst of a contract alongside your clients’ employees, you can easily slip into the mentality of an employee. Avoid this as it can limit your attitude to the contract and stunt your approach to winning more fruitful future contracts.
By keeping an entrepreneurial attitude, you will add value to your existing client by looking for more efficient and innovative methods and will also be visible for potential other opportunities within that business. Critically, you will also be alert to any other potential opportunities outside of your existing contract.
Focus your thoughts on learning as much as possible, enhancing your skills and experiences and delivering the best work feasible on every contract.
Build and maintain your network of contacts
Networking can be challenging for many but it is a hugely valuable tool for building and maintaining a steady pipeline of quality work. A well-developed professional network can be a source of friendships and mentors, as well as job opportunities and referrals.
Be friendly and approachable, reach out to new people and attend social and professional events wherever possible. Also make use of online communities and forums, take a strategic approach to social media and build and maintain relationships that add value to your career prospects.
Look for win-win situations for contractors and clients
It’s never wise to burn bridges in any situation but this is especially true when you are self-employed. You never know when another opportunity will arise, when you may have to work with a client through another firm or when you will have to work alongside or under another contractor.
Aim to find win-win situations between you and the client or other contractors. If you have to make a difficult decision, aim to make sure everyone remains on good terms.
Share your different perspective
Self-employed people are, by their very nature, independent, innovative and entrepreneurial. You add more than just your core expertise and will have a different approach to your full-time colleagues.
Look beyond the contract and see where you can help add value to the client. Maximise your qualities and share your insights. By providing unique views and support, you can quickly earn a reputation as a trusted and quality source of expertise.
If you have any other tips to add, please share them with us.