How can you impress as a first-time contractor?
First impressions are essential at any stage of life, and particularly when you’re making professional steps such as entering the world of contract. The story goes that you have just seven seconds to make a first impression on someone, and while most of our recruitment team (and clients!) have a far longer attention span than that, it’s still important to present yourself in the best way possible as soon as you can.
When you move from permanent work to contracting, it’s crucial to network, make relationships and always keep one eye open for your next opportunity. While it can feel daunting to move from the security of permanent work, contracting offers a variety of benefits – if you make it work for you. Here’s how to impress when you make the move:
Overhaul your CV
Your contractor CV should be different from your permanent CV. This is primarily because your new focus should be on highlighting your key skills, expertise and achievements, rather than doing a deep dive into your entire work history. Hiring managers looking for contractors want skilled people who can immediately fill vacancies and apply their expertise to a specific task, so focus on presenting your most relevant, impressive and in-demand skills first. Avoid fluff and instead get to the point. Tell organisations what tangible skills you will bring to their company and what impact these skills have had in other roles. Be sure to include relevant industry terms, qualifications and keywords, as many recruiters and hiring managers will seek these out first. Bullet points work well to state your skills summary – and don’t forget to proofread it thoroughly!
Networking is key when it comes to securing industry connections as a contractor, and LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways for recruiters and employers to find you and reach out with opportunities (and vice versa). Social professional networks are the number one source of quality hires, before job boards and employee referrals, so make sure you utilise your profile. Make sure it’s fully optimised, including a clear and recent photo of yourself, detail in every section, a ‘vanity’ personalised URL and recommendations and endorsements from people you have worked with in the past. Again, industry-specific keywords are important to include in your profile, as searchers (and Google) will look for these when performing searches. LinkedIn is also a great tool to use to join networks and groups relevant to your industry, or proactively reach out to hiring managers and recruitment professionals to make connections.
Start off on the right foot
Once you’ve secured a contract, make the most of it! A good recruitment agency should help to prepare you for your first day, but it’s up to you to arrive on time (or early) with all the equipment you need to quickly have an impact. Introduce yourself to other staff and make an effort to learn their names – while some contracts are short and you may be expected to simply get the job done, many can end up evolving into longer-term contracts or even permanent roles. This means teamwork can be more important than you think. Participate in any training and inductions required, take notes and do your best to start contributing to the company as soon as possible. Contractors are typically brought on for their immediacy and existing skillset, so if you can prove yourself early on then you’re much more likely to make a good impression.
Keep in touch
If the contract comes to an end without extension or the opportunity to go permanent, it’s time to look for your next job. Many contractors end up working for the same organisation somewhere down the line, and certainly for the recruitment agency that placed them, so it pays to keep up professional connections and keep in touch where possible. You never know when they may come in handy!
Make your next contractor move with Quanta
We’re highly regarded within our industries for the quality of the contractors we present to clients. We work with organisations all over the world and have a variety of opportunities available across life sciences, renewable energy and ICT. Visit our contractor zone here or view our latest vacancies to take the next step.