Many people in the tech industry are deciding to work as independent contractors in lieu of getting jobs. There are many benefits to working as a tech contractor, but you can quickly run into problems if you're not careful. Here are a few tips for working as a tech contractor that can help you navigate the challenges and get the most out of this career path.
- Have a Business and Marketing Plan – Even though you're an independent contractor, you still have a business. Except in this business, the product you're selling is you—more specifically, your skills and knowledge. Like any other enterprise, you need to determine how your business will operate, how you plan to market yourself, and where you want your business to be in five or ten years. If being a tech contractor is a temporary thing for you, you'll need to develop an exit plan for when it's time to shut down. Having a plan can ease the transitions between the different stages of your career and help you make decisions regarding the type of contract work you accept.
- Develop an Internet Presence – As a person who works in the technology industry, you should probably already have a website or a social networking profile. Before hiring you, clients will research you online. Unfair or not, what they see (or don't see) will influence their decision making. Developing a presence on the Internet is crucial to your success. If you already have a blog or social profile, make sure that what's publically available is something you don't mind potential clients having access to.
- Be Flexible – As a tech contractor, each of your clients is your boss. They are hiring you to perform a job. At the same time, you have a certain way of working that you've found to be effective for you. Unfortunately, problems can arise if your personal work habits clash with the company's business processes. It's critical, in these moments, to be flexible in your approach to work. Your clients are paying you, so it's often best to follow their procedures. If you feel their processes are hindering you from doing the best work you can, speak to the person in charge. Sometimes clients will be amendable to change, particularly if the change helps get the job done.
- Save, Save, Save – The biggest challenge with contract work is a phenomenon known as feast or famine. Sometimes you'll be overwhelmed with work. Other times your phone won't ring for weeks. One way to avoid the financial ups and downs associated with being a tech contractor is to save your money. Put at least three to six months worth of expenses in a savings account to cover those times when work is less plentiful.
A career as a tech contractor can be rewarding. Whether it is a temporary situation or permanent career move, hard work and persistence can help you achieve success.
(Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / freedigitalphotos.net)