Finding contractor work is a very different process from finding a permanent position as an employee. This guide will teach you how to take a more focussed and targeted approach, making the gaps between jobs shorter, and building a more successful business, whether you’re a new contractor or you’ve been around for a while but want to improve.

Create a Contractor CV

Just like when looking for permanent employment, you’ll need to create a CV if you want to find contractor work. Your contractor CV should give an overview of your work history, skills, and achievements, and should include a targeted profile. And, just as when looking for a permanent job, you should tailor each copy of your CV to the clients’ specific needs.

Marketing yourself

Most contractor work is sourced through contractor agencies, so give them a copy of your CV so they can get in touch when they have work that you’re suitable for. You could also meet people at business networking events – check out Meetup.com for networking events.

Using contractor job boards

Look on contractor job boards to find work that you know you can do, and email your CV to the client along with a short cover letter explaining who you are and why you are suitable to do the work. Keep a diary for all of your applications so you know when to follow up.

Follow up on contractor job applications

There’s a lot of competition in the contractor world, as there is in all types of work and business. Getting in touch with clients after you’ve sent your application will get you noticed – the client (or contact at a contractor agency) will realise that you’re not a time-waster but somebody who is serious, and be more likely to put your CV at the top of the pile.

Securing an interview

Usually, if you make it to an interview with a client, the contractor work is pretty much guaranteed to be given to you. That’s why any initial negotiations should be designed to secure an interview, rather than discussing rates.

Preparing for the interview

Preparation for an interview for contractor work is pretty much identical to interviews for permanent jobs – you need to research the company, find out where the interview location is, and work out how to get there.

The Contractor interview

Interviews for contractor work are sales pitches – you aren’t trying to persuade them to let you work for them, you’re trying to persuade them to do business with you. You need to put yourself in charge of the interview, controlling it in a way that allows you to tell the interviewer why you’re perfect for the job.

Understanding the skills required

Most clients need a contractor to start work almost immediately, so finding a contractor isn’t a drawn out process. You’ll get one interview before they decide whether to hire you – this means you’ll need to use the interview to show the client that you understand all the issues involved, and all the skills required, and that you have the required skills.

Closing the deal

If interviews for contractor jobs are like sales pitches, it means you need to close the deal. Finding out whether you’ve been given the job shouldn’t wait until sometime after the interview, you need to ask if the job is yours at the end of the interview, and only leave the interview once you know you either have the job, or that you’ve been rejected.

After the interview

After you’ve closed the deal in the interview, you’ll need to get in touch with the client or agency to agree on the next step and on the timings – when the work will take place, etc.

How many applications you need to make before you secure work depends on marketing conditions, but for the best results you should follow the more targeted approach we’ve laid out above. A targeted search may take more thought and more time to implement correctly, but in the end it’ll be worth it when you’re securing more work.