Contractors looking for their first assignment or looking for their next one can boost their chances of success and reduce periods of downtime when they don’t get paid by using a targeted approach. The process for finding contract work is quite different from looking for permanent employment – here are some tips:
Clients will often fill contract roles within days, often after one interview or even just by telephone screening. And to get on the list for interview for contract work, you have to put together a targeted resume tailored to the requirements of the specific assignment being sought.
Here are 10 tips for finding contract work fast:
1. Create a contractor Resume – short, bespoke, focused and targeted
A ‘stand out’ resume is the first step towards finding work as a contractor. It should include a targeted profile, skills, achievements and career history. Customise it to highlight skills and achievements relevant to the assignment being applied for. Create a ‘list’ of skills and achievements that can be tailored to the client’s needs.
2. Market yourself on contract jobs boards, use recruitment agencies and your networks
An estimated 85% of assignments are found via recruitment agencies, so get on recruitment agency databases, and apply for specific roles. Upload your resume to job boards and start working professional networks online, face to face, by phone and email.
3. Find specific assignments and send a targeted application
Identify assignments that match your skills and experience, tailor your resume to the exact needs of the assignment when you apply. Apply via email and keep records of what applications have been sent and when, then diarise and follow-up.
4. Follow-up contract job applications and chase recruitment agencies and clients
You should expect a high level of competition. Follow-up each application by telephoning the specific contact at the recruitment agency or client; they are busy people and chasing helps you get your resume to the top of the pile.
5. Initial contract job negotiations with the agency/client – get an interview
Experienced contractors know that once in front of a client at interview, the contract job is often in the bag. But the first negotiations should focus on getting an interview not bargaining over rates.
6. Before interview – Preparation, Preparation and more Preparation
Contractors turning up to interviews poorly prepared are unlikely to get it. To prepare find out the basics like the interview location, transport links and parking. Research the client, what it does, its needs and its latest news.
7. During interview: be proactive
Contract interviews are different from interviews for permanent employment; they are sales pitches. Securing work as a contractor requires you to be proactive and use sales techniques to control the interview. If you do this you will have a greater chance of securing the assignment at a good rate.
8. During interview: explore and understand the issues
Most contract work should have been started yesterday so most assignments are awarded on the basis of one interview, that interview is the only opportunity to understand the issues. So the contractor must ensure that the client knows that these issues have been understood and that the contractor has the skills to do the job.
9. During interview: ask for the contract work and close the deal
These interviews are sales pitches where the contractor is offering skills on a business-to-business basis. Contractors must ensure they don’t waste time and ask directly for the assignment and close the deal, emerging from the interview with an offer for the contract work.
10. Follow up on the interview before starting work on the contract
Follow up with the recruitment agency, or client if contracting direct, to agree next steps and timings. Depending on market conditions, contractors seeking contract work may find they apply for one contract job and are successful, or tens and possibly even hundreds of contractor jobs. However many are applied for, still follow the same process of tailoring a bespoke resume and covering email in response to client specifications, rigorously following-up each contract job application and pushing for an interview.
A targeted search will yield results, but a ‘scattergun’ approach will leave you applying for multiple positions without winning any contract work for potentially long periods. So invest in following the contract search process and it will give you a steady flow of assignments.