New to contracting

So you’ve considered all of the benefits and pitfalls of going contracting and have decided to pursue it.

What next? Before you start looking for an IT contract job or setting up a company (things we’ll cover later) the first and most important thing you need to do is get your head in the game. 

If this is your first time contracting you’re about to enter a different world. You need to reprogram, understand the lay of the land and align your expectations.

Availability

Generally speaking you’ll need to be available for an immediate start. Most contract employers (and recruiters!) will discount you if you’re on one month’s notice. Either look for a contracting opportunity that talks about starting in a month or, dare I say it, you may need to resign first and aim to secure a role while you’re seeing out your notice period.

Stock the Piggy Bank

If you can, make sure you’ve got rainy day money. If you’re sick you won’t get paid. If you have a lag between contracts you’ll still need to pay the bills.

Plan your Annual Leave

When are you going to take holidays in the next 12 months. Ideally you should plan these in between contracts. At the very least be upfront with future employers and be prepared to have flexibility. Generally speaking unless you’re in a very long term contract, your new employer will still expect their projects to be delivered on time and this won’t factor your holidays. Also as with the above point, you’ll need to fund your own holidays.

Deliver from Day 1

You’ll be expected to contribute as soon as you start, often with minimal handover or induction. The best contractors are the ones who can still thrive in those situations. Think about how you can be one of those guys…
Most Valuable Skills – get real about what employers will pay top dollar for. It’ll be what you have the most skill and experience in already, not the stuff you like but have limited commercial exposure to.

These are the fundamentals to prepare for.

Next up: writing your CV for contract jobs and Interviewing as a contractor!