If you are immediately available in the market, you may consider finding a contract role. To increase your chances of being successful, you need to be strategic and targeted in your approach. Zoë Kelly shares her insight.
The process of finding a contract role can look very different to when you are looking for a permanent job. “Speed to market” is the key – companies often fill contract roles in a very short period of time (a few days), frequently with just one interview or a very condensed recruitment process. To be considered, it is key to have a CV designed to catch the eye of your target hiring managers, honing in on the role you are looking for.
Here are 10 suggestions for finding a contract role:
Create A Punchy, Short, Targeted CV
A highly-focused contract CV is a winning strategy. It should be concise and focus in on the key areas a hiring manager or recruiter will want to see. It should include a targeted profile, your skills, key achievements and also a career history. Make sure you are customising your skills and achievements depending on the role you are targeting or applying for. Think about a list of skills (and your relevant achievements) you can talk to hiring managers about – how will you add value?
Start Marketing Yourself To Your Network And Beyond
This is not the time to be shy. Over 80% of contract roles are filled by recruiters, so start networking with your favourite recruiters and start militantly applying for relevant roles. Make sure your LinkedIn and Seek Talent Search profiles are up-to-date and that you are as visual as possible to the market.
Get in touch with your networks and ask them to make introductions for you. People are willing to help – maximise the good will. I created a video about this recently on LinkedIn, check it out here: How to work your network
Find Jobs And Send Targeted Applications
When you find a role you want to apply for, make sure your CV is focused and to the point. If a hiring manager or recruiter has to dig for the information, you are not going to be successful. Be targeted in every approach you make. Ensure when you are applying for roles you are keeping good records and diarising when to follow-up and chase.
Following Up Your Applications In The Right Way
It is going to be hugely competitive in the current market for contract roles, so how do you stand out? Rather than chasing up every application and feeling like you are harassing people, build some really strong relationships, so when something comes up, you are top of the list. Rina wrote a really helpful blog earlier in the year. You can check it out here: How-to-build-a-better-relationship-with-your-recruiter
Key Priority – Get An Interview
Seasoned contractors know, once you get in front of a client (in your area of expertise) it is easier to secure the role. Do not lead with or focus on the money initially, get the interview first and do not start with haggling over rates.
If you are not an experienced contractor, do not make the fatal mistake of thinking an interview for a contract role is easier. Prepare yourself as meticulously as you would for a permanent role. Have they recently appeared in the news? Make sure you have thoroughly researched both the company and the hiring manager. Also prepare a comprehensive list of questions to ask. Failing to prepare systematically will lead to disappointment.
You have secured an interview. Hooray! But this is not the time to sit back, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Be very proactive in the interview, talk about your experience relating to the project or piece of work at hand. How have you solved problems like this in the past? What was the outcome? Be precise, do not waffle and dance around the subject matter. Get into specifics and the nitty gritty – you have a much better chance of securing the role and a good rate of pay if they see you as a subject-matter expert.
What Are The Issues?
Most contract roles become available due to an issue. Someone has left suddenly or there is a specific project or piece of work that needs to be completed. You have a small window to make a favourable impression and secure the role. This is a great opportunity for you to understand the issues at-hand and what is required. Show the client you are knowledgeable and are able to understand their pain points and have the relevant skills to solve them.
Close The Deal
This is an opportunity to secure the role. Make sure you have fully understood the scope of work and have demonstrated the relevancy of your skills. Question if they have any concerns about your skills and capabilities and then ask them for the project, closing the deal. The ideal scenario is to leave the video interview or meeting with a firm offer.
Having discussed with the client the thorough scope of work and shown you have fully understood their needs, follow up with your recruiter or hiring manager to agree next steps and timings. Keep the process moving, do not sit back or let the process stagnate. If they require extra information or proof of qualifications from you, be quick with your responses.
Whether you are lucky and secure a role after a handful of applications or after hundreds, make sure you follow the same process for every single role. Ensure your search is targeted. Do not fall into the trap of a panicked, “scatter-gun” approach or you could find you struggle to find work for long periods of time. The investment of time, pinpointing which people are best to target and being methodical in your approach will pay dividends.