Do you want your full-time job to involve a few weeks of exciting projects, followed by months of downtime doing whatever you please? Then yes, you should seriously consider contracting.
Contractors are usually brought into projects when there are obstacles to overcome and plans to execute, and when it’s complete, they move on to the next challenge. So if you’re someone who thrives on a fast pace and high energy, contracting could very well be for you.
Similarly, if your full-time job gives you very little say in which projects you work on, and if you have been pigeon-holed as the person who performs one particular role on the team, then you could try exploring different roles through contracting.
What drives people to the contract world?
Contractors can find themselves working on a diverse range of projects, sometimes simultaneously. Many say this variety of work keeps them motivated, allowing them to think more creatively and in turn, motivating them to strive for better results.
Financial rewards and job satisfaction are both hugely motivating, and many contractors feel they are living an overall more fulfilling life than they did when they were working with one organisation full-time.
If freedom and better financial rewards sound like everything you’ve ever wished for from a job, then you should pre-register at iContract, if you haven’t already.
What is the “contracting type”?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you are the contracting type. Contractors have a wide variety of professional backgrounds and skill sets, but they do tend to share many similar traits.
Because they are so reliant on their networks to land contracts, and need to be self-motivated to earn enough to sustain the lifestyle they want, most contractors are vivacious, likeable and high-energy people.
Successful contractors are also ambitious, with a strong entrepreneurial streak, which allows them to turn their skills and experience into their own enterprise. They can spot a business opportunity when it arises, and successfully turn it into work for themselves.
An example is when someone is contracted to an organisation to help with a specific project, and when striking up a friendly conversation with other employees in the same office they notice other areas of the business that could benefit from their expertise.
A successful contractor will have a knack for offering their services in a way that is not pushy or inappropriate, and with the right approach, one seemingly casual conversation could result in a series of different contracts for the one client.
They are also strong-willed and resilient, meaning they will not let setbacks like not winning a contract dampen their resolve to find work, and they will not let harsh criticism of their work affect them emotionally – they will instead take this as feedback to help them improve.
At the same time, they have the ability to read a situation and know when their own advice is wanted and when it is not.
Contractors are specialists in their fields, and as they come into a business as an outsider, they often see ways it could improve its day-to-day operations.
But some organisations simply want the contractor to do the job they are paying them to do, and do not want to hear any advice beyond that.
On the other hand, others might be very willing to tap into the reservoir of knowledge while it is on site. A successful contractor will be sensitive to this, and will only offer advice when it seems appropriate.
Moving from site to site, and working with different workplace cultures as well as different tools and budgets, means contractors need to be flexible.
Someone who is stuck in their ways and finds it difficult to adapt to the working style of others might struggle in the contracting world.
The flip side to having so much freedom means that some contractors can find themselves positioned as more of an outsider on teams, meaning that even if they are based in-house for the duration of the contract, they are not embraced in the inter-office camaraderie in the same way that a full-time staff member would be. But this can suit those who are relieved not to have to be swept up in office politics, and instead concentrate on just getting the job done.
Finally, contractors also need to be able to set themselves goals and deadlines and then make sure they meet them. As well as carrying out their contract work to a high standard and to deadline, they need to keep on top of their own behind-the-scenes admin tasks, especially their taxes.
Want to find out more about whether the contracting lifestyle is for you?
Download our guidebook to learn how to structure your contracting calendar so that you can make the most of the lifestyle.