It is that all-important time again, contract expiry. The clock is ticking and your boss is pretending he didn’t even notice. You have a bunch of questions in your head: Am I being renewed? Have I performed well enough in the past six months that they will keep me on? How do I shape up compared to my peers? Are they keeping the project going? Should I start to look for other opportunities? Can I book a holiday…?
Here are five top tips we’ve put together to help you through that challenging time:
1. Prepare in advance
Don’t wait until the last minute and then panic. If your contract is expiring in September, then keep your eyes and ears open from June. The management team might communicate subtle hints as to where the project is going. If they are talking about potentially transferring the project in-house, don’t wait until it happens; act now!
You know the project will eventually come to an end, and unless you are working your way to be a perm, it might be worth simply taking the hint, and start looking elsewhere.
2. Talk to your agent, if you have one
Your agent might have more information than you do. Although you might not like the chunk of commission they take, they are on your side! They talk to the client frequently and might be able to give you some good tips on what to do or some hints on what is coming in your way. What if they know that the company is not looking to renew any contracts beyond the expiry date? Don’t you want to be the first to know?
Look on the bright side; your agent might be able to help you to find another contract before your current one ends. So you will be in better negotiation position.
3. Build a good relationship with your manager and ask for feedback on a regular basis.
Building and sustaining a good relationship with the person you work for is just common sense. Ask for their feedback during the contract. You might become a contractor because you didn’t like the performance review, but regular feedback can only help you to figure out where you stand. If the feedback were negative, wouldn’t you like to find out earlier, and to put things into action to improve your performance?
Turning a blind eye will only hurt you in the long run. It is true contractors do not have performance review, but the contract renewal itself is a direct result from your performance. However, if the project is coming towards the end, then your manager might tell you that in advance if you keep a regular conversation going.
They might be able to transfer you to another project. If not, at least you know it is time for you to look for new opportunities.
4. Don’t forget to market yourself
When you are busy servicing your client, it can easily slip your mind to continually market yourself. But as a contractor, it pays off to always keep an eye on the market and to maintain a good network.
Even if you are not planning to leave the current contract, you want to know what other opportunities are out there, what other clients are paying, and how the overall market is doing.
Never assume your contract will not end. The day will come, and you don’t want to re-build your network, calling recruitment firms from scratch when it comes. Marketing has become ever more accessible these days through social media, so make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date, stay connected with some recruiters and update your status regularly to keep yourself front of mind.
You want to be the first ones in their contact book when a suitable opportunity comes along. iContract provides another useful and efficient channel for you to connect with contract recruiters, and display your profile with contractor specific criteria, such as availability, contract rate, contract length, and let the jobs comes to you!
Check out our podcast on how to use social media to market yourself.
5. Know your market
The contracting market demand is dependent on the economic environment, regulatory requirements, industrial trends and each individual company’s staffing needs. Again, you want to be in the know and understand what is happening in your industry.
For example, throughout the financial crises in 2008, companies cut back on permanent staff hiring, but created opportunities in the contracting market. There are limited opportunities in the front office, client-facing roles, but the downturn created a lot of new opportunities in the legal, risk and compliance space.
This might happen again, depending on how Brexit could affect freelance contractors.
Is your skillset easily adaptable? If not, why not take some courses and do some self-study, so that you are well prepared when the changes come. Most of our skillsets are more flexible than you may think.
Don’t pigeon hole yourself into only one specific area. Want to stay tuned with the contracting market trend, why not follow our blog?
iContract is launching in September, where you can connect with recruiters to line up your next contract, stay informed on the contracting market trend, and obtain quality contracting services.