This is Part 1 of 2 of 10 Mistakes To Avoid As A Contract Worker. Here are some of the most common mistakes that contractors make and how to avoid them in the next gig.
Selling yourself short
Many contractors who don’t recognize the value of their own work or have limited knowledge of market rates for their services. By not having clarity on the role they will play and/or market rates, contractors have a difficult time establishing a competitive rate that reflects the impact of their contributions. A good starting point is to read the contractor job posting and engage with the gig recruiter or hiring manger to obtain clarity on the role, duration, type of assignment and expectations. To get insights on market rates, do your research to understand what the contractor will actually earn vs. third party fees that can be associated with a contractor assignment.
Biting off more than you can chew
When you are riding a big wave of projects and potential clients, it’s easy to get overambitious and agree to more work than you can realistically handle. Especially if you’ve just come out of a contract dry spell, it can be tempting to hoard all the available work that you can. To avoid this mistake, it is important to understand level of effort and client expectations to avoid over-commitment, which can negatively impact your personal brand and ability to deliver high-quality results.
Budgeting before expenses
That moment when you celebrate because it’s payday but then you realize that you’re a contractor. This is a reality for most contractors. As opposed to a full-time salaried paycheck, a contractor’s paycheck cannot not be taken at face value. After deductions for tax, insurance, vacations and other expenses, your net pay will unfortunately be lower. So, when budgeting your finances for the week, month or year, be sure to first take into account your actual net income before making any big financial decisions.
Casting a random net for clients
As an independent contractor, you will need to build a book of business and identify gigs that align to your skills and interests. Lining up contract work is a constant job but blindly looking for clients at full speed will only cause burnout. There is a difference between casting a wide net and fishing smart. If you spend all your free time randomly applying to every contract opportunity without discretion, you get unsatisfactory returns. Instead, be purposeful in the opportunities that you pursue. It is also good to build a diverse network of individuals that you can connect to for leads on gigs.
Avoiding contract/freelancer websites
Many experienced contractors might tell you to avoid freelance gig platforms and contract job boards. This is not the best advice. With the increasing use of contractors, many organizations are leveraging these platforms and tools to source and engage with quality contractor talent. It is in your best interest to be as visible as possible on these job platforms “that align to your skills”, as there are recruiters constantly sourcing talent from these pools.