Contracting During a Crisis – A 4 Part Survival Guide
01 July 2020
It’s undeniable that the last three months have been tough for contractors across the property sector. Many of our most skilled contacts within the industry have found themselves in a period of uncertainty due to rolling contracts, or in an employment gap between contracts as workloads have teetered and budgets have been reassessed. Even those who have been fortunate enough to retain their current contract, or find a new placement, will have had more time at home to reflect upon their career, aspirations, and the direction of their business moving forward.
We have put together our top tips for marketing yourself and your business, using the time you have gained to make some tweaks, and come back stronger than ever.
1) Review Your CV
Undoubtedly the least exciting part, but arguably one of the most important. I’m sure we don’t need to tell you how fundamental it is to have a well-written, clear and concise CV, but please put your hand on your heart and tell us, honestly, when the last time you sat down and properly reviewed it was.
We work with fantastic contractors who I’ll bet haven’t given their CV a proper read through in at least a year, and add a new, disjointed, patch on as soon as the time comes to start looking for a role again.
Take an hour, have a deep read, and check that your CV is consistent in providing key information; responsibilities, achievements, examples and figures for each contract. Shy away from copying and pasting council job specs and provide more meaty and individual details. Check that the dates of employment are right, that the font is universal, and get a bit of your personality across!
We would always recommend collecting a reference, or asking your agency to collect a reference for you when you leave your position. Store these safely, and if you have a particularly shining review, attach it to your CV.
2) Consider your online presence
Use of Linkedin is only increasing, and it can offer you more than just being a platform to leave your online CV. At its best, social media can be a fantastic resource for networking within your industry, getting word of your services out there, and providing interesting industry news and articles.
Taking some time to connect with professionals you admire, and follow companies you’d like to work with can pay dividends in the future. Commenting and interacting with posts can be a fantastic way to make sure you are noticed by the right people. We’ve found that an increasing number of hiring managers and our clients are on LinkedIn, and whilst it may not lead to a new working relationship immediately, familiarity within the industry could be the subconscious nudge that pushes your CV to the top of the pile when they are looking to next hire a contractor.
3) Have a think about where else to market yourself
Nowadays there are hundreds of job boards, and agencies, that you could upload or send your CV to. Watch out for sneaky tick boxes on job boards like CV Library and Planning Jobs that are trying to get your consent to upload your CV to their database. You could find yourself applying for one niche role, only to find that your details are now stored in places you didn’t even know existed.
You need to make sure you’ve covered your bases, but you also need to protect your data and be able to trust that your CV isn’t being flung to every potential client in the land with little management of the process by 17 overeager recruitment consultants.
Find a recruitment consultant who has a decent reputation within your industry, and above all, who you like, and trust. Ask friends who they’ve used, and have relationships with, check out who is advertising roles on job sites, give someone proactive who has been trying to reach out to you a chance.
Note down the opportunities you’ve been told about and keep track of your options. Many agencies work with the same clients, and having your CV sent to them by multiple agencies can sometimes decrease your chances of securing the role.
4) Do a great job, and communicate
The above do not take away from the good old-fashioned best way to market yourself; do a good job. But the current landscape has made this infinitely harder.
We’ve seen contracts fall apart recently that probably would have had a decent amount more mileage, had the manager and contractor been still able to be sitting across from each other in the office.
Our best advice would be to make sure that you are proactively reaching out to your manager/client on a daily basis, and keeping a log book of how you are spending your time. Your manager will be incredibly grateful for the professionalism that a breakdown of how you have been spending your 37 hours a week displays. It makes their job of managing a team remotely easier, and gives them something to show their Directors when the time comes for contract renewal and they are fighting to keep you on board.
2020’s way of working has had its perks for the contract market. Home working is widely accepted now, in a way that it wasn’t last year. With a good internet connection and Microsoft Teams you can take on a role in Lanarkshire from your front garden in East Sussex.
Don’t let your standards slip, and prove how fantastically productive and available you are at home, and you will find your pool of opportunities expand.
A good reference to evidence that you can ‘hit the ground running’ remotely is worth its weight in gold.