Knowing how to correctly refine a contract search will save you a huge chunk of time, and is something which every freelance contractor should endeavour to add to their skillset.
Landing a new gig before you've even completed the last is the single best way to minimise gaps between contracts... and ultimately maximise your revenue.
Unfortunately, the average contractor makes several simple mistakes when searching for a new assignment. These are the most common, and how you can avoid them during your own search.
1. The one-size-fits-all CV.
A poorly worded CV reduces your chances of even being noticed, let alone obtaining an interview. A highly refined CV targeted to the exact requirements of the position is crucial to your chances of success.
2. Not applying for enough positions.
It's always a numbers game when it comes to getting a new contract. Applying for one position and waiting for a response can take far too much time; apply for several, and you'll be more likely to land at least one interview. The contractor who is fortunate enough to get several offers will find negotiating a higher rate much easier.
3. Failure to establish market rate.
From month to month and year to year, pay rates in a particular field can vary widely. Before going out and looking for a new contract job, check around to see what it's paying... so you can keep your expectations in line with a potential client's.
4. Not displaying enough interest.
Once you've applied for a new contract, following up with calls to agents will remind them that you are actively interested in that position. Simply making a 30 second call to your agent can get your name to the front of the queue when interviews are scheduled.
5. Focusing on rate too early.
Nobody expects you to work for free, but concentrating too much on your rate before the interview can put off both clients and agents. Once a new contract offer is made, you'll be in a good bargaining position to negotiate a higher rate, and an even better position when it comes to contract renewal time.
6. Not handing in notice first.
Only the most in-demand skills can convince a client to wait while you notify a current employer and work out your final days. Recruitment agencies are unlikely to send you for an interview unless you are available immediately.
7. Rate inflexibility.
When a new contract is offered, it's important that you be willing to negotiate your pay rate. While the agent certainly wants every contractor to be paid fairly, the client has a budget that must be met... and if a balance cannot be struck, agents will be less likely to schedule you for interviews.
8. Not taking enough action.
When seeking a new contract, it's productive for you to think of the job search as a full time position in itself. Investing several hours a day toward that task, particularly on a regular schedule, can dramatically improve your results.
9. Not sending a covering note with your application.
When applying for a new contract, it is important to include a small covering note with your CV - explaining why you are perfect for the position. This small extra effort can help any contractor stand out from the crowd.
10. Poor interview preparation.
The difference between getting an offer and being politely declined frequently comes down to preparation. The contractor who arrives best-prepared for the interview is, after all, likely to arrive best-prepared for the new contract job.
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