Becoming a contractor was a deliberate move – to understand the experience the individual goes through when engaging with companies.
I learnt plenty and wanted to share my thoughts as we move into the New Year and hopefully provide some useful tips on how you can improve your experience and rewards from contracting.
Know Your Value
When I left employment, I felt I knew the day rate I should charge based on feedback from friends in similar positions. I approached a number of recruitment agencies and they all told me the same thing. The day rate I could command was about 25% lower than my expectations. This seemed weird at first. Until it clicked. The difference was the fee the agency would charge the client. So, for the same role, the same output, I’d get 25% less money. That didn’t seem right to me.
I asked myself the questions below and I’d encourage you to do the same when thinking about the day rate you charge and why:
- What would a permanent employee get paid for the role I perform?
- What extra experience and skills do I bring that makes me more valuable?
- What premium should the client pay for the flexibility I provide through being a contractor?
- What value will I add and does the client appreciate this? Have I quantified it and communicated it?
- If I engage an agency, can they add value in thinking about the above four points – and is the cost to me of their introduction services worth the price?
I’ve spent years selling enterprise solutions in large corporates, so it seemed natural to try and outline to potential clients not only what I did, but the outcome the client would get. I structured commercials so that elements of my revenue were based on deliverables. And, when I promoted my services, I focused on features and benefits. I never considered myself a job seeker, but a business developer.
As a limited company contractor, you are a business that provides services. So maybe there’s value in asking yourself whether you treat finding your next piece of work in this way? And, if someone is going to find the features and benefits of the services you provide, where do they find them? Where have you advertised? Does your advertising strategy promote your services through multiple different channels? Or do you rely on a few agencies to give you access to the limited numbers of opportunities they have and you choose the best of what they have?
Take an active role in choosing contracts
Whether you find roles yourself or via agencies, owning that process is important. In my past life buying contractor services, you buy based on convenience factors such as availability, cost and location but also on the quality you perceive through the experience the contractor has gained. This needs to be clearly articulated.
Think about how today’s contract helps you get tomorrow’s contract. What can you learn, what brand association will help attract more customers and what deliverables can you use to prove to the next prospect exactly how good you really are? There’s a temptation to take the next role because it presents itself and, when bills need paying, for sure that’s the right thing to do. But, if you know your value, you promote yourself and you have a broad advertising strategy to ensure your services can be found online, over time you should be able to create a sales pipeline of potential contracts so you can choose the best thing for the long-term health of your business.
About the author
Mark Lee is the CEO and founder of ContractElite, a UK-focussed marketplace connecting contractors to companies seeking contractors. ContractElite provides a free-to-use platform for the UK’s professional contractors to advertise their services to buyers ranging from big corporates, SMEs and recruitment businesses. Mark’s career has seen him lead Korn Ferry’s RPO business across EMEA and Reed’s RPO business in the UK as well as advising numerous major recruitment businesses in an interim capacity. He is also currently a non-executive director at one of the UK’s fastest growing and innovative digital recruitment service providers.