05 Nov How to Get the Most Out of Your Contract Role
Alternative employment arrangements such as contract work have become increasingly popular in recent months as organisations strive to reshape their workforce and people look for creative ways to replace permanent roles, diversify their skills or supplement their incomes.
If you’ve been hired for a contract role, the organisation has brought you on for a specific purpose and a limited engagement. Yet despite the inherently temporary nature of contracting, there are potential career benefits that extend far beyond the immediate opportunity.
Whether your goal is to grow your career, secure another contract or land a full-time job, here is our advice on how to get the most out of your contract role.
Be Available and Responsive
Making yourself available is vital for setting yourself apart as a contractor. While you don’t have to be on-call 24/7, being willing to put in the extra time and work to get the job done when needed is a highly valuable trait in the eyes of an employer. It demonstrates your commitment to the job, even if it’s temporary in nature, and your dedication and reliability will put you in good stead for future opportunities.
Similarly, it’s important to be responsive and maintain a high level of communication throughout the contract, particularly if the role is remote. If you receive an email, aim to respond immediately, even if it’s just a brief message to let the person know you’re working on the request. Even better, make the effort to follow up with your manager over the phone/via video (or in person if possible) to build rapport and make it easier to clarify key details. You don’t have to have all the answers, but being approachable and proactive about your communication will help to reassure employers that you are a team player and have your tasks well in hand.
Focus on Building Relationships
As a contract worker, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not seeing yourself as a “real” team member and become isolated from the rest of the team. However, networking should be an integral part of your contract role, enabling you to make valuable connections within the IT industry – after all, you never know when a new opportunity will come up through your network. It can even help with moving from contract to permanent, as organisations look for people who mesh well with the existing team.
You don’t have to be best friends with your colleagues, but finding ways to build relationships is sure to work in your favour, even if it’s just small talk around the coffee machine or inquiring about their weekend at the start of the Monday morning Zoom meeting. Over the course of your contract, it’s likely that you’ll also have opportunities to network with people from outside the organisation, so take every chance you get to connect with clients, service providers, consultants and other professionals in your industry. These people will become prime resources when it comes to securing new work and growing your career.
Make Yourself Indispensable
Needless to say, being diligent and reliable is always among the most important contracting tips, but to truly get the most out of your contract role, you need to make yourself indispensable. While this is easier said than done, a good place to start is always ensuring you go above and beyond what is expected of you. For example, if you’re completing a report that is due by end of the day, try to get it in early with extra information included, or offer to take on additional tasks if you have capacity on top of your own workload.
For Technology & Digital contract roles, in particular, it’s likely the organisation hired you to provide specific technical skills they would not otherwise have access to, making your expertise and perspective a significant asset. This has led to the notion that contractors should be insular in their temporary workplaces, shielding their expertise from permanent staff to ensure that the company stays reliant on external know-how. In reality, this is a long way from the truth as employers see (and remember) the huge educational value a contractor can bring to the rest of the team. Far from putting you out of the job, respectfully sharing your knowledge can help you to build a fruitful long-term relationship. Whether you are demonstrating your value by streamlining tasks or suggesting process improvements, helping employers to envision how you can benefit the organisation more holistically is a win for all parties.
In this way, you ensure you’re in the best possible position when your contract ends, whether that means securing a contract extension, receiving a permanent job offer or enlisting a referee who can vouch for your past performance.
Working as a contractor has its challenges, but it also offers the freedom to explore different roles, diversify your income and create a career that’s right for you. By approaching contracting with an eye to the future, focusing on networking and putting your best foot forward, you can set yourself up nicely for long-term success.