For many experienced professionals there comes a time in their career when contracting becomes a consideration. For some, contracting is something they fall into between permanent roles and it is a means to an end, not an ongoing way of working. For the professional contractor, becoming a contractor offers interesting projects, great rates of pay and an element of control and flexibility.

As recruiters, for both Permanent and contracting roles, we are often asked about how to become a successful contractor and what are the benefits. Here are our thoughts and then the thoughts of a recent convert to contracting, Alison Marshall.

Benefits to contracting:

• Contracting offers a greater variety of work and flexibility. As contractors are often asked to work on a specific project, the work can be interesting and challenging when compared to ‘business as usual’. Flexibility is available, but the flexibility is usually related to being able to work on a project for a set period of time and then decide to take a break. The contract market does follow the general recruitment market, the months December through February can be very quiet. If you are looking for a break, this is a great time to enjoy summer. However, if you need to take up a new contract in this period, the opportunities can be limited. For that reason contractors can be reluctant to take up roles with expected finish dates just before Christmas.

• Contractors, like permanent employees, need to build a professional reputation for delivering on projects and being easy to work with. You are only good as your last assignment and it is important to build and maintain relationships with clients and recruiters. A relationship with a good recruiter can save you time in finding your next contract and ensure that your invoice will be paid on time, with no chasing businesses to pay your invoices.

• Hourly or daily rates for contractors are usually offered at a premium to permanent roles. This is great, but remember there will be slow times and there is no annual leave for contractors. You need to understand your financial obligations, including GST and tax, and understand that contractors are usually paid monthly on the presentation of an invoice. It is not difficult, but you need to know your numbers.

Alison Marshall made the move into contracting fifteen months ago after a successful L&D career and hasn’t looked back. These are her learnings after making the move into contracting:

• Like any other career move, be really clear about what you want from contracting. For example is it work/life balance, flexibility or variety? Being clear from the outset keeps you focused on achieving what it is that you want.

• When you get that first gig, remember you are there to do what is set out in the contract and do it well. Don’t start thinking like an employee and changing things up. You can point out what you think could be improvements, but leave it to the business to decide if that is what they want to do. • Don’t take it personally when the contract ends. It’s not a reflection on you. Instead focus on what is coming next.

• Be comfortable with the fact that you are not going to see things through to the end, you are often exiting when the project can be taken on by someone in the business.

• Be comfortable with no new contract lined up, it doesn’t take long for the next one to come.

• Manage your finances and, if you are GST registered, use an accountant for the first year.

Thinking about contracting and want to know if your skills are in demand? Get in touch with the Blue Sky Recruitment teams in Auckland or Wellington for a confidential chat.