Great Extension Expectations

How to increase your chances of contract extensions

Typically, contractors are hired to deliver some very focused outcomes within a defined time period as part of a project or to backfill roles where individuals who have been internally seconded. The nature of contracting is that it allows organisations to plug gaps for a period of time or add additional resource to achieve set objectives, with the understanding that it isn’t a long term increase in resource. When the contract assignment comes to an end the contractor is generally let go.

However, there are certain situations, circumstances or opportunities where a contractor is retained for other opportunities beyond the initial gig.  These generally fit in the following categories:

  • The contractor is transferred to another project that may benefit from the skills and capabilities demonstrated during the initial stint;
  • The individual has been extremely productive and is assigned to commence a new project where approval has been expedited as a result of their demonstrable knowledge and expertise;
  • The contractor has been offered an opportunity to augment a permanent team to provide for flexible resourcing due to business as usual growth.

In all these scenarios, you as a contractor are in an enviable position to influence such outcomes and increase the likelihood of your tenure at the organisation.  Below are three things you can do to increase the probability of a contract extension once your initial deliverables have been completed.

 

  1. Ensure that you continually exceed expectations

It is fundamentally important that once effectively inducted into the organisation and the project you have been contracted for, you focus on delivering all assigned tasks to an extremely high quality and within agreed timeframes.  Once you have this aspect of your deliverables under control, you gain your hiring manager’s confidence and this naturally leads to increased trust and often increased responsibility.

 

  1. Reach out and offer assistance

Once you gain trust and you have your deliverables well under control, reach out to your manager to develop a better understanding of what else is under their remit. Offer your assistance and advice without seeking any recompense and show interest beyond what you are specifically hired to deliver.  This will send a strong message to your manager of your interest and desire to be involved in the organisation beyond your contract and opens opportunities for conversations. This horizontal expansion into these domains allows you to practically demonstrate your additional skills, knowledge and expertise that the hiring manager may not have been aware of at the time you were contracted for other outcomes.

 

  1. Focus on building relationships and stay away from politics

While I have previously noted that as a contractor, you must keep out of organisation politics, it is also incumbent that you build positive relationships with your project stakeholders.  As you gain a better appreciation of the landscape, it is advisable to reach out and network with key ‘business as usual’ operatives that contribute to your project.  It can be extremely beneficial if these are influencers or decision makers.  These individuals may eventually participate in any approval process to extend your tenure – and may even have veto powers.

 

While these are key to gaining a contract extension, it is imperative that these are not undertaken at the expense of achieving the outcomes you have been initially hired for.  After all, you are only as good as your last assignment. If you perform well, build strong relationships and above all offer assistance where possible, do not be surprised if you are extended.  We have seen this happen often – six weeks, often becomes six months, but the opportunity rests with you.