There are so many reasons to make the switch into contracting, especially in the networking industry. In some cases, engineering and technical work is seasonal, so finding a full-time, salaried job may prove to be difficult. Additionally, you may not want to tie yourself to one employer when contracting offers a chance to make more money in a shorter time and allows you more choices.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for flexibility, or new to the field and need experience, contracting provides a great opportunity to build your skillset, make lasting connections and earn an income.
How to make the switch
First things first, connect with a recruiter to get started. Even better, find a specialized staffing firm that is well connected and knowledgeable about your specific field. When it comes to networking, jobs are readily available and a recruiter can help you find positions that may not even be listed online. Recruiters can also help you understand your contract and help you communicate with the employer.
Working as a contractor has its pros and cons and its ups and downs. It’s important to understand going in what this means for your budget and your work schedule. You may have busier weeks and some weeks without any work, so plan accordingly. Save money to cover your recurring costs and plan vacations during the slower seasons.
Work like everyone’s watching
As big as the industry is, it will feel smaller once you start making connections. Recruiters talk to employers and to each other on a regular basis. Even employers talk to each other about good and bad contractor experiences. When your next gig (and your paycheck) depends on how well and efficiently you work, every interaction counts.
Be ready to work hard and manage your time well. Plan ahead and build relationships everywhere you go. Every opportunity is a chance for more work and more pay. Put your best work out there and be careful not to burn bridges with recruiters, employers or other contractors. Word will get around quickly.
Another way to look at contract work is as a trial period for longer-term opportunities. In some cases, employers work with recruiting firms to find skilled workers, hoping to find an excellent candidate for a full-time position. Even if contracting long-term isn’t for you, it can be a good path to full-time work in some cases. After spending three to six months with an employer, you may be asked to stay on, extending the contract or as part of the salaried team. This is why every part of the experience and work you do matters. You never know where it might lead.
Highlight your skills
When it comes to building a resume for contract work, there are a lot of options to consider. For some, you may not want to list each specific job with employment dates of only three or six months. Instead, consider listing the recruiting firm you work with. Another option is to write “independent contractor” with the dates of all your contracting work, listing your projects and accomplishments there. That way, gaps or shorter projects don’t appear suspicious to companies who aren’t familiar with that type of work. Put the emphasis on the skills and projects you have behind you, rather than the time-frames of each job or gaps between work.