7 ways to succeed at contracting in 2020

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In order to progress their careers, contractors should aim to finish contracts in a stronger position than when they started. This means putting in time, effort and energy, but it will pay off in earning you increased security, opening up new opportunities and developing your skills and experience.

In this guide, Umbrella Supermarket have put together our top tips to help contractors build long-term success and excel their careers in 2020.

1. Build strong contractor-client relationships

Building strong relationships with the client creates trust and respect between both parties and is therefore essential to progressing in your contracting career.

From a good working relationship can grow contract renewals, that all-important glowing reference and new, future opportunities. After all, a client you have built a solid rapport with is more likely to get in touch in the future than a client that can barely remember your name.

Focus on what you have in common with the client, this breaks the ice and gives both parties plenty to talk about. Show the client that you are an excellent listener and communicator. After all, great communication skills are the key to any lasting relationship. Finally, always exhibit great body language. This shows you are friendly, open and makes it easy for the client to connect with you.

2. Network, network, network

85% of jobs are filled through networking. It is an essential way of progressing your career in contracting, keeping up-to-date with industry news, meeting fellow contractors and potential clients as well as learning about new opportunities.

Any contractor serious about accomplishing long-term success needs to make networking a priority. There are several ways contractors can network, including:

  • Attend industry events, conferences or workshops: this is a great way to pick up new skills and knowledge whilst meeting new contacts, clients and hear about new opportunities. The more industry professionals you meet and connect with, the more likely your name will crop up when a relevant opportunity arises.
  • Utilise LinkedIn: it’s always a good idea to connect with industry professionals, potential clients and existing contacts on LinkedIn. In fact, 14% of freelance professionals have found work on the platform. Invite users to connect with you, interact with existing contacts, share interesting content and send fellow users messages – after all, merely sending a message on LinkedIn has led to new opportunities for 35% of users.

3. Keep your skills sharp

The key to a long-lived successful career in contracting is to hold an up-to-date, in-demand set of skills in your niche. After all, 90% of clients take on the services of contractors to fill a temporary skills gap.

This should come as second nature to savvy contractors, 54% of which choose the contracting lifestyle as a way of achieving their career goals and ambitions.

Contractors with competitive skill sets in an in-demand niche will be able to charge better rates, win more contracts and grow their reputation as an industry expert.

To gain a competitive, up-to-date set of skills, contractors can:

  • Keep up to date with industry developments and news: to ensure that you are knowledgeable, informed and know exactly what is needed to upskill.
  • Enrol in an online course or attend training workshops: there are tons of courses out there for contractors, whether you check out sites such as Udemy which offer 80,000 courses taught by experts, check out your local university for workshops and training, or head over to the Open University.

4. Deliver, and then deliver more

Any contractor worth their salt should deliver their highest quality of work on every contract they work on. Never over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, go the extra mile to over-deliver on projects - this will make you an invaluable asset to the client.

Delivering quality and exceeding the client’s expectations will increase the chances you will be a contractor they want to continue working with, or someone they will offer an exceptional reference for.

The client expects you to deliver, but doing more than is expected of you speaks volumes about your abilities, commitment and work ethic.

5. Showcase Flexibility                                                         

Contracting requires a greater degree of flexibility than permanent employment. In fact, this is a reason that 38% choose contracting.

To thrive in your contracting career, contractors must be prepared to be flexible in terms of where they work, when they work and for how long. 10% of contractors that changed companies over the past year also moved to a new region. It might be the case that you are required to commute or even relocate – this is all part and parcel of working on the best contracts and progressing your career.

6. Avoid Burnout

To ensure success on every contract you work on, it’s important to avoid burnout. Maintain a strong level of productivity whilst at work by striking a good work-life balance. After all, 58% of contractors are attracted to contracting as a career option as a way of gaining a better work-life balance, but in reality contractors can work intensively on the contract at hand, finding it difficult to switch off.

To avoid this, contractors can:

  • Limit the working day to reasonable hours: once you have finished the working day, switch off and enjoy some downtime.
  • Avoid distractions: once you are home, switch off your work phone, log out of your emails and avoid any work-related distractions
  • Take some time to relax: whether that includes socialising, pursuing your hobbies and passions or just taking some downtime, this will leave you refreshed and rearing to go.

7. Utilise the services of an Umbrella company

Making use of the services of an umbrella company lessens the burdens of paperwork and takes care of tricky tax calculations, freeing up more of contractors’ time to thrive and succeed in their careers in 2020. For more help finding the best umbrella company for your contracting needs, Umbrella Supermarket’s handy comparison tool is a great way to find the best option for you.

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