Once you have become a contractor, your main task will be to source new contract openings, and ensure that the gaps between assignments are as short as possible. So, how do you go about finding opportunities?
There are many ways of finding contract work. The main ones are: via existing contacts, recruitment agencies, web job boards, social media, or contracting direct with clients.
Contract Job Boards
There are hundreds of web-based contract search engines – try Technojobs. You can upload your CV, and update your status at any time to ensure you don’t miss out when relevant contracts are published. ContractorUK’s IT contract job search also enables you to look at the newest contracts from a variety of different job boards.
Many recruitment agencies will post the latest vacancies on the job boards mentioned above, however some roles will never make it to the web if they can be filled from the agency’s existing database of contractors. If you have specialist IT skills (e.g. Agile, .NET, support, etc.), register your CV with agencies that specialise in those areas. Otherwise, we recommend you register with some of the largest contract agencies – such as Computer People, Hays and Modis.
Without a doubt, social media will be the next big thing in contractor recruitment. Most of the larger agencies already post their latest vacancies on Twitter, and have set up LinkedIn groups. You should consider setting up a LinkedIn account, which acts as a virtual CV. Also set up a Twitter account and follow relevant agencies, as recent research shows that a Twitter user is 3 times more likely to contact a recruiter via Twitter, than via LinkedIn. Take care when posting information about yourself online, as many recruiters scan the web for information about potential candidates during the screening process.
Direct with Clients
Although most contractors work via recruitment agencies, a fair amount of work is carried out directly between the contractor’s limited company and the end client. You will typically source such work via existing contacts, as clients are more likely to use an intermediary to find suitable candidates for a role, than advertise direct.
Via Existing Contacts
This is arguably the best way to secure contract work, and many career contractors rely solely on past and present colleagues for openings. Once again, LinkedIn is an excellent way to keep in touch with old colleagues, and social media sites allow contractors to maintain contact without a great deal of effort. You should spend some time getting back in touch with people you have worked with in the past, as a large number of contract role are filled via recommendation.