Professionals in the information technology community always find themselves at some point spending some time as an independent contractor. The contractor market can yield high rates, fixed hours, and new challenges. Most of all, people are attracted to the idea of “working for yourself.” Though there are many challenges to being an independent contractor and there’s a lot to consider before diving into a career.
There are two separate parts of the contractor market intended for two different kinds of contractors: low skilled labour and highly skilled specialists.
Low skilled workers may have skills and knowledge concerning basic coding, call centres, hardware rollouts, and other tasks that are considered “menial” at best.
A highly skilled specialist, on the other hand, could be a candidate for high demand sectors like storage, virtualisation, messaging, security, and databases. A contractor should know their strengths and weaknesses and find clients and jobs that fit those perimeters.
Depending on the amount of contract work and how many clients a contractor has, there can be a lot of paperwork relating to running a business. During economic downturns, there is a higher risk of unemployment and underemployment. A contractor is also responsible for keeping their skills, certifications, and training up to date and relevant. Depending on the contractor market and the economy as a whole, a contractor may have to occasionally take a contract that does not pay well just to keep afloat.
There are a lot of pros in the contracting sector. Great hourly rates are available in most cases. A contractor can rise to the occasion and challenge himself with new creative projects. An independent worker doesn’t have to deal with pesky office politics. Best of all, it’s easier to walk away from jobs that aren’t enjoyable or that don’t pay well.
Do’s and Don’ts
Negotiating is an integral part of success as a contractor. One of the hardest things to learn as a new contractor is what the work is worth. Proposing a fee that is too high will curtail the chances of landing a contract. But aiming too low will force unenjoyable and unfair work, which can be worse than a bad 9-5 job. Always consider other factors when searching for a job: recruiter’s commissions, insurance, software and tools required, and taxes are all relevant to cost calculations.
IT Recruiters will generally offer software development, networking or hardware contracts. A recruiter’s job is to specifically keep a contractor in work when needed. They do most of the paperwork when it comes to tax returns and contracts. Both contractors and employers use recruiters; it serves them to please both sides. Clear communication between all parties involved is always important. Understanding everyone’s needs and being transparent paves the way to a healthy working relationship.
After weighing the pros and cons and assessing the skills and knowledge needed for the kind of contract work available, then a prospective contractor can get started. When the contractor market is rich and the economy is in a good place, then working for oneself can be a lucrative and rewarding endeavour.