How to make the move to contracting

by Heat Recruitment

Leaving the security of a permanent position to kickstart your career as a contractor is a daunting experience to say the least. From the moment you start working for yourself, you are effectively throwing yourself into the deep end – whether you sink or swim depends on your drive and commitment.

That said, life as a contractor certainly comes with its own unique advantages: complete autonomy, flexible working, increased earning potential and the rewarding feeling of taking on new challenges awaits those ready to make the switch. Of course, it’s one thing to want to go solo – it’s another to make the transition.

If you are eager to take the first step towards independence and a greater income, there’s no time like the start of the year to plan for this professional change. But where to begin?

Map your journey

Making the leap from permanent employment to freelance work will naturally come with a rush of excitement, but before you start penning your written notice, take some time to plan for the future. Creating a timetable for your resignation will give you a target to work towards and make for a professional ending to your current role rather than a cliff-edge situation.

At this stage, it’s critical to be realistic – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. By giving yourself ample time to lay the foundations for your contracting career, you won’t be faced with a sudden loss of financial stability from the moment you leave your current job.

Determine your strengths

Your ability to attract new business and win more contracts will depend not only on your skills and experience but how you position yourself to your target audience – with this in mind, the first step of your transition into self-employment should be to establish where your strengths lie. Knowing what specialisms you can offer will allow you to determine your unique selling point, whether it’s expertise in a particularly niche area, experience with big-name brands or technical knowledge in a discipline that’s high in demand.

Get a feel for freelance work

Once you have established what you want to offer to your future clients, it’s time to dip your toe into the waters of contracting and put yourself out there. If you are in full-time employment, utilising your spare time to take on a few gigs here and there will allow you to build on your skills and get a feel for freelance work.

As well as enabling you to gain more experience and develop your talent, side-gigs will also give you a taste of the responsibilities that come with contracting such as managing client relationships and pitching for new business. If you enjoy it and you find the work far more compatible with your ambitions and lifestyle, keep at it – if not, you can change your mind while you are still employed.

Grow your network

Perhaps the most valuable tool in a contractor’s belt is a vast professional network. It’s no secret that people prefer to do business with people they trust – naturally, the more people you know, the more chances you have of securing contracts. Making time in your schedule to attend relevant industry events will help you to build a rapport with key decision makers and professionals who can open the door to exciting opportunities.

As your notice period approaches, getting in touch with your business contacts to alert them that you will be available for work will put you front of mind should they need support in your specialist area.

The change will be significant, but with a realistic plan in place and sufficient time to achieve your goals, the transition to self-employment will be less of a leap and more of a step-by-step path to success. When the time comes to leave the perceived comfort of permanent employment and enter the world of contracting, you’ll feel prepared rather than panicked.

For more information on the contractor roles we have available at the moment, click here. 

by Mike Taylor