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Contracting in a Competitive Market

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The contracting space is getting more and more competitive.  As organizations demand more from their contractors and more candidates enter the workspace, one needs to know how to stand out from the rest.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Media and Social Media are Your friend

 

To stand out in a competitive market, you need to self-promote.  Social media and repositories like GitHub are the perfect place to display your work with like-minded individuals.  Promoting your work on social media or places like GitHub allow you to speak and display your work wherever you are, whether that be a meeting with a recruiter or in an interview with a client.  You’ll seem more prepared, invested and motivated in the project that you are applying for because you believe in your skills/abilities and you want to showcase them.

Invest in relationships and network

Referrals are becoming more and more beneficial to contract workers.  Positive recommendations from others in your field go a long way in getting calls from recruiters and getting you further along in the process.  The more people you know in your field (i.e.: Program Managers, fellow developers at other organizations etc.) the easier it is to get a foot in the door.  Take time to foster relationships from your past contracts and make sure to attend networking events. Know what projects organizations are working on before you attend these sessions so that you can speak to individuals about them and show off your knowledge and interest.  Never burn bridges and work harder in the last week of your contract then you did in the first!  If there is no extension, make sure to leave a last impression.

Certifications and Continuing Education

Certifications are mentioned on almost every job description that a recruiter sees.  Most of the time, these certifications are in the nice to have section.  Nowadays, anything in the nice to have section is code for “these will make you more competitive”!  Contracting can be hard work and breaks after 6 month or 12 month contracts can seem like the perfect time to take a vacation.  During breaks between contracts, you need to be aware of how to effectively fill that time.  Breaks for R&R are totally necessary but as a contractor in an ever changing market you need to have time to build new skills and show that you were productive during larger gaps between contracts.  Taking courses or getting certifications during breaks shows that you continue to self-improve and want to become more competitive for that next role.

Money Isn’t Everything

It is easy to say YES or NO to a role solely based on pay rate.  Recruiters understand that you have bills to pay and deserve a fair rate for your skills and abilities.  In a competitive market like today, you need to weigh your options.  If a role is paying you less than the last, ask youself the following:

  • Will this be a role where I can broaden my skills and expand my network?
  • Is this a role with a new organization/company that I have not yet had the chance to work in that will open doors in the future?
  • Will this role keep me in the tech space and engage me?

The key is not to short-change yourself but also understanding that the benefits to contracting is not always financial but to improve your own professional development.

How do you remain competitive in today’s contracting market?

Salary & Rate Trends in Tech, According to Dice

Dice is a leading job board in the United States focusing specifically on IT jobs. In addition to career opportunities, the website also provides valuable insight for technology professionals and often conducts extensive research to back that up. While the statistics they publish are usually US-specific, these trends are often apply to the Canadian IT industry.

The annual Dice Salary Survey, which was published at the end of March, had participation from 12,907 employed technology professionals. It contains extensive research that is useful for both IT professionals and recruiters alike. While there is too much to summarize it all in one post, here are a few helpful graphics regarding rate and salary that may help you negotiate or plan for your next contract:

Average Tech Salaries Dropped a Little in 2016

The past 10 years has seen a significant rise in tech salaries; however, 2016 was the first when average salaries dropped slightly. It will be interesting to see which direction the trend moves in 2017.

Dice - Average US Tech Salary 10 Year Trend
Source: Dice Salary Survey 2017

Average IT Contractor Rates Also Dropped Slightly

IT freelancers were not immune to the 2016 drop in rates, although it wasn’t as big of a decrease from 2015 compared to the average salary decrease.

Dice - Hourly Rates for Contractors
Source: Dice Salary Survey 2017

Consultants Are Still Making More Than Full-Time Workers

When Dice used the base rate per hour to determine an IT consultant’s annual salary, they still came up ahead of full-time workers by more than $20K. While this may seem like a wide gap, in reality, when consultants factor in expenses such as insurance and risk of having no work, it isn’t a huge difference.

Dice - Average Salary by Employment Type
Source: Dice Salary Survey 2017

The Top Salaries by Job Title

If you’re wondering which jobs garner the highest salary, then here’s your answer. Tech Management has the highest salary, but keep an eye on the Security Engineer which had the highest growth in salary from 2015.

Source: Dice Salary Survey 2017