Becoming an IT contractor has far-reaching benefits, not least the ability to be your own boss. Contractors can also command a better rate of pay than permanently employed staff, choose the jobs that they wish to undertake, decide how far they are willing to travel – if at all – and have the opportunity for quicker professional growth. Unlike permanently employed IT workers, though, contractors also have to put up with periods of uncertainty, when work may be scarce or even non-existent. As a contractor, it rests upon you to sell yourself to companies; do you know what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is? How would you ensure a company picked you over anyone else?
Sell yourselfSo what are the best ways to sell yourself, and how do you catch the attention of the client? Firstly, be sure to understand each client individually; every company you approach is different and will have varying IT needs. Carrying out your own research prior to an interview is key and will help you to adapt the ways in which you market your skills. These meetings are a fantastic way to build relationships, create contacts, and make a good impression; don’t blow it with a fumbled pitch.
It is vital to know your product – in this case, yourself. Setting up that initial meeting with a company is all very well but the client will soon see through you if you enter the room without conviction in yourself. Rehearse your pitch if needs be, and deliver it in a way that is clear, concise and articulate; give each company a reason to trust you by demonstrating that you are amenable, adaptable and able to think outside of the box.
These days it’s not enough to sell what you do; you must also be prepared to sell the benefits of your work. A company needs to know the value of what you’re offering, rather than simply reading a list of your qualifications and experience. How can you help them to add value to their business? Offer transparency and flexibility, and be prepared to offer visual examples of what you do. A contractor with an engaging portfolio is more likely to be remembered than someone who simply reels off a list of what they can do.
Finally, you must be prepared to promote yourself by any means possible. Carry business cards, take the time to develop a professional website, keep your résumé updated at all times, and take the time to network via social media. A company is far more likely to hire the services of a contractor who can demonstrate presence; it’s time to get over any shyness!
Expanding your businessYou’ve pitched your heart out, built relationships with a number of companies, and established yourself as an IT contractor. What now? It is essential that you deliver what you promise, for a start. You are more likely to receive work based on a proven track record, so be sure not to take on more than you can handle. Now is also the time to develop your business, invest in yourself with new courses and qualifications, and make sure you keep abreast of new developments in the IT sector.
As a contractor, it is your responsibility to keep things above board. Many contractors will use the services of an umbrella company for this very purpose. The company will help you keep your insurance and taxes up to date, maintain accurate records, and offer a liaison between you and potential clients. It is well worth researching this route; after all, it will give you more time to focus your energy on the very thing you’re being employed to do.
We wish you every success in your new venture!