5 tips to find your first contract

If you are new to the contractor marketplace, finding your first contract can feel overwhelming. The contract hunt is very different from a permanent job search in terms of the mindset, process and resources you will need in place.

Here are our top five tips to win your first contract:

1. Update your CV

Your CV must be written for the contractor marketplace. A traditional permanent CV contains elements such as work experience, education and references. While these sections are still relevant for the contractor space, your CV must now focus on your skill set. You need to sell yourself to a particular company in terms of what you offer, so showcase your portfolio of work and client base – these are the main drivers for most hirers.

2. Work with recruitment agencies

Most contractors find their first chunk of work through a recruitment agency. They are expert salespeople with a wealth of contacts and will maximise your chances of finding work as a contractor for the first time. Search for agencies specific to your industry and, once you have a shortlist, ring around and talk to the agencies. Ask for examples of their successes within your specific skill set.

3. Network

Job boards and agencies are not your only tool for a contract search. Network within an inch of your life and use online tools, such as LinkedIn, to make contact with old clients and colleagues. Also, make sure you network with fellow contractors. Sometimes a role may not be appropriate for one individual, but they may recommend you for the role.

4. Follow up

If you have contacted a few agencies, applied for a few contracts and still have no good news, make sure you follow up on these leads. Get on the phone and ring around to see if your application is being considered. If it is not, ask for feedback. Remember: your job is now to find a job – make sure you keep communication lines open and maximise every opportunity.

5. Prepare for the process

Prepare for the contractor recruitment process by gathering a portfolio of work to showcase your talents. Contractor interviews are often skills-based and not career-focused. Also, make sure you have worked out your rates of pay and your paperwork is in place to begin work as a self employed individual. For example, you may need to enlist the help of a specialist contractor accountant to advise you on the nuances of setting up as a limited company, umbrella company or sole trader. Be armed with the facts to get the most out of your first contract.