Surviving in the Software Contractor World

Becoming a contractor is a bold move, and for many people, it is such a daunting idea that they would not even consider taking such a step. This is why the rewards are potentially enormous, and not just from a financial standpoint. Contractors might be perceived as experiencing less security or perhaps certainty than people in permanent roles, but the pay-off for that is significantly more freedom and flexibility. A contractor is essentially his or her own boss and while this comes with additional responsibilities, it provides a means of control over one’s life that permanent employees rarely, if ever, get to experience.

Software experts, like most IT professionals, are particularly well suited to contractor roles and are therefore well-placed to enjoy the benefits of this type of career and the associated lifestyle.

Hints and tips

Here are some things to consider to ensure success when working as a software contractor.

  • Emphasize specialist skills. The work of a software expert tends to be based on projects and therefore has an inherently temporary nature. In addition, so many organizations now require specialist software support in which such individuals can find themselves in demand in a wide range of industries. Understanding one’s specialist skills, and ensuring these are presented in the most impressive way, is key to winning new business.
  • Build a network. Publicity is also critical to winning new business, and word-of-mouth is the best way to achieve that publicity. Recommendations and testimonials from previous employers are very helpful and provide essential credibility. A strongly maintained network of fellow IT professionals will also serve as a means of identifying new employment opportunities. Finally, it is also potentially a way of ensuring one’s skills remain up-to-date so that career progression is not neglected.
  • Get organized. Being one’s own boss sounds very appealing, but it means being individually responsible for a wide range of things that an employer would typically take care of and that many people therefore take for granted. Responsibilities such as pay and taxes can be time-consuming and onerous, and enlisting the support of an umbrella organization such as can be hugely helpful, as they will take care of this sort of thing, freeing up the individual to devote his or her time and effort to the profit-making side of their business.

Daunting but rewarding

The decision to become a contractor, whether it is made by someone at the start of his or her working life or someone who is considering a career change, is not one to be taken lightly. Such a transition is more than just a change of employment. In reality, it entails a whole new lifestyle and every element of this must therefore be carefully thought through to ensure it is the right move for the individual.

It is daunting, but it is also potentially rewarding and fortunately, all it takes is some careful research and the right sort of preparation to guarantee the best possible chance of success.