This is Part 2 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.
Not setting expectations
Amidst the excitement of a new project or new client, you may want to start getting to work immediately. But before you start, be sure you take some extra time to document your agreement appropriately. Without an agreement, there is the opportunity for a lot of misunderstandings and confusion for you and the client. At a basic level, the agreement should define the scope of work, duration, deliverables and payment terms.
Letting it get to your head
Being a contract worker is a constant lesson in humility. One of the biggest mistakes a contractor can make is to get overly confident and start turning down projects and clients that you think are beneath you. Landing one large, high-profile client does not mean that “you’ve made it” and can close the door on other opportunities. Always be respectful of current relationships and still be open to making new ones. Even if you are on an upward trajectory, you never know how things will play out in the future and it’s important to maintain good standing with all previous and current clients.
Giving up during down time
No matter how experienced you are, contract work usually comes in ebbs and flows. There will be times when gigs are abundant and times when you run into a dry spell. It can be mentally and financially tough to get through the times when business is slow, but being prepared can help make it an easier ride. Even acknowledging the fact that there will be periods when projects are difficult to come by can ease a lot of the pressure on yourself. Just because you don’t have a project lined up right now, it does not mean your skills are any less valuable or no longer needed. There are many factors in play that impact the availability of gigs. It is important to plan for both high demand and slow periods.
Getting pulled into workplace politics
Good organizations will welcome contractors, and while it’s great to feel included, it’s also important to remember that there are still boundaries to honor. It can be easy to get pulled into workplace politics but getting too involved can cast doubt on your professionalism and impact your ability to deliver objective outcomes. As a contractor, it’s best to remain a neutral player. Be polite, be honest, and keep your distance from sticky situations.
Not checking in
Not establishing regular progress checkpoints can result in the contractor falling short of expected impact. A successful gig requires the contractor to have discipline for establishing progress updates and frequent feedback opportunities. This will allow contractors to focus their efforts and fine-tune their approach to meet and exceed expectations.