How to work with a recruiter to secure the best contract roles

In a rapidly evolving technical marketplace, contractors are in demand more than ever. As a contractor, a good CV is crucial to make you stand out and to help you secure the job that lets you build on what you have, to get where you want to be.

However, there’s more to landing your dream contract than a few sides of A4. With a bit of savvy, working with a great recruiter can be the powerful force-multiplier you need to find your way into the big-hitters or exciting start-ups.

1) Be responsive

The contract market is intrinsically volatile in comparison to the permanent. High-value vacancies are routinely filled within 48 hours, and even the best candidates can be left high-and-dry when client HR teams have a tight deadline to shortlist prospects. As a contractor, the most valuable thing you can do is be responsive with your recruiter- even if this just means always having access to your phone and emails. You will be surprised at the difference this can make!

2) Know what you want

Think back to previous contracts and note what you enjoyed about your job (as well as what could have been improved on). Did you get great pay? Could you work from home, or was it on your doorstep? Did you get to use your favourite technologies? Were you able to influence project direction beyond development? If you’re aware of these factors, it makes your decision making process far easier when you’re discussing new roles with your recruitment consultant.

3) Be clear

As a contractor, ‘transparency’ might seem like a recruitment cliché. Nonetheless, the value of being clear and honest with your recruiter can’t be downplayed. When approached for a role, use ‘know what you want’ to decide if it’s worth pursuing. A good recruitment consultant will know their client and be able to give you all the information you need to make this decision. Keep track of where your CV has been sent and make sure to have opportunities realistically weighed up against each other- and be sure to communicate this with your recruiter. Let your consultant know if you are working with other agencies, and how your other processes are going. The best consultants recognise, respect and reciprocate this – and can give potential clients an honest representation of your situation to manage expectations on all sides.

4) Use CV advice to your advantage

One of the most valuable services that a consultant can provide to you as a contractor is CV advice. Be sure to use this to its fullest extent – you might have years of relevant experience, but if the pertinent aspects of your last roles in relation to a new job aren’t shown it’s often the difference between an interview and a rejection. Specialist recruiters working in defined verticals will have the knowledge and skills to help you make the absolute most of your skillset on paper.  

5) Keep an open mind

A less-talked-about aspect of a recruiter’s job is to offer candidates great opportunities that they might not even think they are suitable for! It’s important as a contractor to keep an open mind – in terms of location, company size or culture and more. For example, jobs in Europe might be more lucrative for an Edinburgh-based contractor than a role in the South East, and affordable airfares mean that transportation costs are minimised and times spent in transit aren’t dissimilar. Consultants will have good judgment of flexibility in job requirements and will be able to give you opportunities to use your strong points to work your weaknesses and ultimately make you a more versatile engineer or developer.  In order to make the most of this, it’s really important to be receptive and open to expanding your boundaries.

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