The business of being an IT contractor

Fifty ways to leave a lover Paul Simon once sang. If you have initially had a work path that involved being an Employee you have probably happened on this article as a result of thinking of becoming freelance or because you have already made the jump.

There are people who genuinely crave the variety of work assignments that involve different business cultures, different project delivery challenges. Quite often we’ve found that a good number of people who have made the step across to contracting profess that they are doing it for mainly financial reasons. Occasionally they cite wanting to see more of the kids.

However, there are flexible employers out there, in particular in the era of more ergonomically challenging work environments and an American hip culture the pervades in the IT sector. Who hasn’t seen the breakout workspaces of a Google HQ photo or read the current trend for 10-15 minute meetings that don’t involve anyone in the room sitting down without gasping about how the world is changing and the world of work in particular is. So if you do crave variety and stimulus and the world of work is actually moving in line with your preference why have you really moved to becoming a IT Contractor?

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Why do some people move towards being freelance IT Contractor?

Often it’s simply that they find that mode of work easier to get their heads around. The deliverables tend to be fixed or more fixed than the dreaded annual appraisal; there’s no mulling over why X or Y got a promotion in a certain year and our ‘hero’ contractor didn’t, there’s less fuss over corporate drinks evenings, and taking an interest in the boss’s son’s Rugby club.  The simple failing that held our Hero IT Contractor back though is that he or she didn’t understand what it takes to get on in a career, or simply wasn’t that interested in playing ‘corporate shuffle’. And this really doesn’t matter given the Contractor’s choice to move into that space. However, it wouldn’t perhaps do any harm to understand why some succeed in careers and others don’t.

Of course, a slow career path may not be the motivation behind your move in to the contracting space; you may have spotted an opportunity to capitalise on a specialist service. As technology advances, this is happening more often and is also quite often something filled by external agencies.

Earning more for your services – how to get a pay rise

In the near term, the movement upwards of a Contractors rate may depend on factors that are clear and defined too – networking among peers and ex colleagues will keep a contractor abreast of topics that are ‘trending’, as Twitter puts it, in their current area of technical competency. Upskilling will help too, project management skills are often highly desired in an IT Contractors armoury and why not tell people that you’ve been on or completed such a course.

Bragging about small victories, who you know, and your competencies need not purely be the modus operendi of that creep you use to work for. Also foot soldiers network, generals know where to gather and which Trade and Bodies are worth becoming more familiar with. Reaching a committee position or having some tasks assigned after becoming more prominent in such a body may not be beyond our Hero Contractor.

That college you attended, that you scoffed at afterwards? Perhaps some of the brightest ideas and modern work practices are being discussed by the class of 2016. The bizarre thing being that unlike a workplace those ‘kids’ really want to impress you and tell you about their ideas and their particular take on the workplace. Have you been a fool to ignore their ambitions?

Those missing pieces of the successful career jigsaw need not be missing any more. Awareness of these will help in your Contracting path. It’s now a Contracting Business, ‘Hero Contractor Limited’ and failing to understand the dynamics and practices of successful people is not an option anymore. Your career may have stagnated but your IT Contracting future need not with some planning. It’s life Jim but not as you’ve known it.