In a competitive job market, first impressions count more than ever. Finding an ideal fit that offers a win-win for you and your client, and ensuring that you have the right structure to operate by, may be the difference between success and demise as a project contractor.
Whether you are a contracting veteran or considering entering into the wonderful world of professional contract work for the first time, finding success in your next assignment hinges on seven golden rules. Some may seem obvious, but these obvious rules are often overlooked.
1. Focus on your client’s needs
Before receiving, there must be giving. Your client’s wants and needs matter. When approaching a potential new client organisation, don’t start by telling them what you want and project onto them what you think they need. Though the experience of a project contractor makes you a very valuable resource to any organisation, ultimately you are there to do what the organisation requires.
First, figure out what the client organisation wants, and then assess whether you have the skills, desire and experiences to match their requirements. Job fitting is crucial, and if you can tailor your offering to the client organisation’s needs, you increase not only your chance of being engaged, but your chance of a successful relationship that lasts the length of the assignment and beyond.
2. Know your skills and abilities
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. Don’t settle for anything less than a good fit. In keeping with the notion of job fitting and finding an organisation that is a perfect match with your own abilities, it’s important to be true to yourself and take on contracts that suit your own skills, personality and goals.
Accepting just any project that comes your way may leave you working for an organisation that you are not suited to—because you are under or over qualified, not suited to the organisational culture or it simply is not in line with your goals—and will not satisfy either party.
Before you take on a new contract role, consider the opportunity cost if you pursue a project that is not an ideal fit. That is, what is the value forgone by taking on a particular contract? This could be financial, time lost by locking yourself into a contract or the type of work you would miss out on doing by accepting a role you only feel half-heartedly about.
Work/life balance is also something that should be acknowledged. A trend has emerged from the IPro Index, a research study on independent professionals conducted by Monash University and sponsored by Entity Solutions, over the past four years that emotional and psychological traits are central to white collar contractor contentment. Finding a role that suits your needs for flexibility, engagement and stimulation contributes directly to success.
3. Communication matters
One of the first impressions a potential client organisations will form of you is based on how you articulate yourself. This could be in person, over the phone, by email or even via your social media presence.
When writing, always use correct spelling and grammar; employers often cite poor attempts at these for reasons of rejection.
Your social media presence is also an important channel of communication that many overlook. It’s a frequently noted fact that employers will form an opinion of you based on the social media profiles that you maintain before they have even met you. Think before you ink and avoid publishing anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see: this includes compromising photos and excessive swearing.
When it comes to your first meeting with a potential client, always remember that you are attempting to sell them your skills. Give them examples of why you are the best person to fill the role and always showcase your value. It’s important to remember that an interview is as much a negotiation as it is an interrogation; ask the client organisation questions and provide them with proof of why you are the solution they have been looking for.