3 tips to be successful independent IT contractor

October 20, 2014

Demand for talent in the IT field has grown at such a fast pace that in many geographic locations there is not enough of a supply of workers to fill all of the available positions. In some instances, if an IT department is facing a specific problem that is outside the expertise of its existing staff, it will bring in a skilled contractor to fill in the knowledge gap on a temporary basis.

Network World reported that in all fields, the hiring rate for contract workers has gone up. The number of contract workers is expected to reach 40 million in 2019, up from 30 million today.

Contract work, in addition to being abundant, is also lucrative. Even if you already have a full time IT position, you can take advantage of the need for skilled workers and contract on the side. Or, if you would rather eschew permanent work altogether, the same opportunities are available and a lucrative career can be built off multiple temporary or part-time positions. Here are some tips for being a great IT contractor.

Be prepared for administrative work
While being a contractor can give you a lot of freedom and flexibility in your career, CWJobs wrote that it can bring a lot of headaches when it comes time for tax season or chasing down invoices. Make sure you have a process for dealing with these or it can quickly overwhelm you.

Have a core competency or niche
Companies will often hire a contractor to fill in a gap that their IT department can't easily cover. As Network World noted, if you have a core skill that is somewhat rare, you could be the missing piece in a big project that will pay you well for your talent. Don't fall for being a generalist – having a skill that few people can match on top of your general IT knowledge will be what makes you marketable to potential clients. 

Be professional at all times – your network is everything
One major trait that the most successful independent contractors have in common is that they are masterful networkers. They know that every contact can lead to more work for them, and they act accordingly. They offer their expertise to a wide variety of people, behave in a most professional manner and continually follow up, looking for leads. Your online and offline social networks will be your lifeline as you move into independent contracting work.