IT Contractors have a cyclical challenge of finding new gigs and competing to win business. While the tasks never get easier, they can certainly seem simpler when you have the routine down to an art. When you already know what to do, where to go, and how to separate yourself from the others, it allows you to get faster wins, better serve your clients and, ultimately, charge higher rates!
To start, you need to know where to find IT contract opportunities. Indeed, your favourite recruiters and go-to job boards are sure to have some for you, but there are often additional gigs out there waiting to be found, you’re just not hearing about them. Simple Programmer published an article a few months back explaining how you can find freelance jobs that are not advertised by including these four simple concepts:
- Talk to People: Hang out with the kind of people you want to work with at meetups, industry events, conferences, etc. Look for people in a similar role and company you’d like to work at and who are using the technologies you want to use. From there, avoid selling yourself but talk to them and build conversations.
- Put Yourself Out There: Make sure people know what you are up to and what you are interested in. This means sharing relevant content on social media or a blog, and simply talking to like-minded professionals about what you do. The more you put yourself out there and start conversations, the more luck you have!
- Build a Reputation: The author of the article puts it best — “Once you have the chance to work with a client and help them achieve the results they want (or better), this will lead them to tell other people about you. The other people will want those results too, and they’ll come to you when their business needs you.“
- Skip the Competition: When you hang out with your target customers and position yourself as a solution, you’ll no longer be one of 100 people who bid on a gig. You’ll be the professional they already know and trust!
The final two points are crucial to building your IT contracting business finding tech gigs with less effort, but also the most challenging to accomplish. Building that solid reputation will get you more business and allow you to bill at a premium, but you will not do it tomorrow. The good news is, Dice has some suggestions to get you there:
- Use SOWs to Measure and Track Your Performance: If your client doesn’t already have one, work with them to create a statement of work with specific deliverables, timelines and schedules. Regularly review it and demonstrate how you’re meeting or exceeding expectations.
- Connect Your Role to the Bigger Picture: Understand the strategic value of a project and work to make suggestions that add value. Reducing costs, decreasing errors and producing more code are all examples of how you can go above and beyond.
- Document Your Achievements and Attributes: Keeping a regular journal of your accomplishments, conducting end-of-assignment interviews, and getting testimonials is a solid way to get your next contract. These referrals and reviews can be included in your resume, personal website or social networks and will do wonders in your job search.
Building an independent contracting business is hard enough, and getting to a point where you minimize the amount of time you spend searching for jobs is even harder. However, when you put in the work and continue to maintain those efforts, you’ll understand why so many senior IT professionals would never look back from their contracting lifestyle.