How to prepare

If you’ve read, Is being a freelance contractor right for me and you still find the idea of being a freelance contractor intriguing. Here are some practical things to help you plan your transition.

  • Understanding your contract rate – Before setting out to become a freelance contractor it’s important to understand what rates the market is willing to pay for your skills.  A fast and easy way is to use one of the many job sites on the internet such as Jobserve.com, Jobsite.co.uk and Totaljobs.com. Most of these sites will allow you to search based on a job description,  location and other filters such as location.  As always, being flexible on work location will open up more opportunities and attract better rates.
  • Update your CV – CVs are just as important in the freelance contractor market as they are with permanent jobs. If you are lucky, your next contract opportunity will be through a recommendation  but more than likely you will need to use a recruitment agency.  Unfortunately, most recruitment agencies and their agents will not have vast work experience in your sector so it is important to keep the following in mind when creating your CV.
  1. Leave nothing to chance – Because recruitment agents do not have detail knowledge about your sector, they are not very good at reading your CV and matching it to a client’s job specification. Therefore, leave nothing to chance. For example, if the job specification asks for experience using a specific software, explicitly state your experience and give examples.
  2. Don’t hide your talents – Most employers and agencies will not read your entire CV before deciding if you are a good fit for the role. Use a summary section at the start of the CV to highlight key skills that are relevant for the  position. As in point one, make sure the summary section is specific to the role and do not assume they will put 2 + 2 together. Be explicit.
  3. Its Personal – Most likely you will find that your skills are applicable to more that one role. For example, if you have worked as a software developer, you might also have experience as a Tester. Although it may be tempting to have one generic CV for all roles. Don’t do it. Create a separate CV for each role type (project manager, Tester)  highlighting specific skills in the area you are applying for.
  • Gauge Interest – Even if your not ready to make the jump into the contract world its worth getting your CV out to the market so there is a chance for it to filter to the various agencies. Each site mentioned above provide a facility to receive a customized email newsletter that is specific to your skills and area. Use this facility to apply for positions in your area and wait to see the interest from agents. When you do get calls from agents, ask what the contract rate will be and the length of the contract. You can decide if you want to pursue the job further.

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