While quite often seen as a dream occupation for many IT professionals, working as a contractor brings with it a whole host of challenges and it’s true that some types of people are simply better off in a permanent position than they are contracting.
This article looks at a number of different personality traits that might see a contractor struggle – it’s not to say that people with these traits can’t make a very decent living from contracting, they just might hit a few hurdles along the way.
A contractor will have to move between different companies and locations and adapt to different styles of working so someone who has quite rigid structures in their lives (such as those with young children or other activities which they are dedicated to) might find it hard to cope with such demands.
And you not only have to have a degree of flexibility with regards to time and place, you also have to be flexible in the way you think; companies might have a preferred way to do things and may require you to adopt their approach to planning, execution and reporting so if you’re stuck in your ways, some form of friction may crop up.
Flexibility in your daily rate is also required, particularly when a long term contract is on the cards; persisting with a fixed rate might see others win the business ahead of you. Remember, contracting is an uncertain world and if you can secure a long term agreement then you might need to be flexible with your charges.
With your wealth of experience and knowledge, you are bound to come across mistakes in other peoples’ work and any sign of arrogance or criticism will not go down well with the rest of the employees.
If you can’t abide seeing the errors made by other people and tend to belittle their work then the chances of you ever contracting for the same company twice are slim.
The people you work with as a contractor will have their own ideas and while you are their to help, it is important that you give advice when asked or when genuinely required but know how to step back and keep quiet if and when they don’t ask you specifically.
If you go into the contract like a bull in a china shop and assume that your opinion is being sought in every meeting or at every juncture then you may well rile people with your pushiness.
4. Lack of Drive
Contractors will often experience periods of unemployment in between contracts and those that lack real drive will face longer spells than those who get out there and fight for new work.
If you think you can just sit back and let agencies find work for you without putting in the leg work yourself then you’ll experience greater droughts where work just isn’t coming your way. It’s not like most other jobseeking where you can just use job search sites like Universal Jobmatch or Monster, contracting work requires a different approach.
Unless you have built up a reputation for being a high caliber worker who delivers results time and time again, you aren’t necessarily going to get the word-of-mouth- recommendations coming your way so doing your fair share of networking and applications is required.
One of a contractor’s key methods of generating work is to maintain regular contact with companies he has worked for previously. Keeping a database of potential clients that you speak to every few months is a proven way to win new business and to be at the forefront of their minds when they need something doing.
If you are the type of person who really dislikes doing the ‘salesy’ thing by speaking to people on the phone, even just to maintain a friendly amount of banter with the main contact at a previous company, then you might miss out on valuable business.
Similarly, while you are hired to perform a specific task at a company, if you fail to build at least some rapport with other workers by talking to them (like normal people do!) then they may choose to find a different contractor when subsequent work is required.
These are just 5 personality traits that might prevent a highly competent IT professional from making a successful contractor so look inside yourself and ask whether or not you really fit the contractor mould. The difference between long term pay is narrowing, particularly as economies continue to plod along slowly so going full time is not a bad decision at all.