There’s no doubt about it – the way we work is changing.

Technology is evolving at a great pace, flexible working is ‘in’ and the rise of the contingent workforce is real. Now more than ever, people are taking the plunge and making the switch from employee to contractor or consultant.

You’d be surprised how often our clients and associates refer their networks to us here at HR Plus specifically for the purposes of discussing the pros and cons of working on a contingent basis. In some cases, it’s our clients themselves wanting the discussion.

Now those that know me well know I am a firm believer in ‘what goes around, comes around’, meaning I’m always more than happy to have a chat. What do I tell them? I reckon I can wrap up my advice in these top tips:

  1. Help recruitment agencies help you – put yourself in ‘boxes’ when it comes to setting a baseline for your skill set and relevant job titles. From there you can discuss your skills that might apply across other role types or projects.
  2. Think of it as a game of chess. Your first role may not be perfect in terms of organisation, role or rate but ask yourself what it does give you – exposure to a new organisation, type of project, industry, sector or network?
  3. Use the market. Agencies, job alerts and following companies on LinkedIn are all great tools to use to help you know what’s happening and where.
  4. Network, network, network! Dedicate a (decent) portion of your time to networking, even after you’ve landed that first contract. It’s far too easy to get comfortable when you really need to be doing the ground work for that second gig.
  5. Build personal rapport with a select few. Candidate care from agencies isn’t what is used to be – be deliberate in building personal rapport with a few key agencies instead of sitting back and waiting to hear to from them.
  6. Be realistic (and do your homework!) Resigning from a permanent job and going straight into a contingent role is perfect, but rare. In most cases you need to be available at very short notice so you need to be realistic. It also pays to do your homework, understanding the cycles of Government for example to consider when the best time to be looking and finishing a contract.
  7. Network some more! Advise your network once you are in a contract. The genuine people in your network will be happy for you and make a note when you will be next available and keep in touch.

If you or someone in your network is thinking about taking the plunge, come and have a chat with us over a coffee – we’d love to share our thoughts and insights.

Ready to make the switch? The team at INSIDE are bloody good people and bloody good at what they do (they’re also pretty smart when it comes to investing in HR consulting practices!), Jane Temel at NICHE Recruitment and Katerina Makarios at H2R are also great options – both are consummate professionals and I have a high level of respect for how they conduct themselves.

Written by Mahesh Vallabh