My Advice For Contractors In 2024

An IT contractor looking happy after reading my advice for contractors in 2024

2023 was a tough year for many IT contractors. Hiring was low, with economic turbulence halting IT projects, and mass tech layoffs from big names such as Google, Meta, and X causing uncertainty in the market.

As recruitment professionals, we expect to see some economic growth in the IT sector in 2024, but my advice for contractors is to manage their expectations. 2024 might be better than 2023, but it will likely still be a tough year as the economy stabilises and businesses begin to look ahead to a more secure future.

My tips for IT contractors in 2024 are not all sunshine and rainbows. They are practical steps contractors can take to improve their chances of success in 2024.

My key tips for IT contractors in 2024

Wealth planning

The economic challenges of 2023 saw many IT contractors being forced into longer periods of downtime between contracts than normal. Periods of ‘being on the bench’ are natural bedfellows to IT contractors, so for many, ensuring that they have some form of passive income or safety net will mean they are doing well no matter what the economic outlook of 2024 is like.

Therefore, my main piece of advice for contractors in 2024 is to review their finances with a specialist. This is particularly important for PSC IT contractors who are the directors of their own Limited Company. They need to make sure that their money works for them. The best way for contractors to do this is to have their finances reviewed annually by a Financial Advisor, to see what they can do to maximise their returns compliantly. This could include the purchase of assets with company funds or increasing pension contributions. Additionally, some contractors would benefit from a review of investments or portfolios to ensure wise decisions are being made.

Networking

I know contractors are not natural networkers and many would wince at the thought of having to “sell themselves” to a room full of people on a random Wednesday morning in a cold room. However, this is not the only experience of networking that is available. My advice for contractors is to see what opportunities are available to meet with their peers or potential clients.

I knew a company that needed niche IT contractors, so they hosted tech meet-ups in order to raise the profile of the company among the IT contracting community. The same principle applies to IT contractors finding new contracts. Making contacts with peers in the industry through tech meet-ups, networking events etc. is a great way for IT contractors to introduce themselves to new businesses and opportunities in 2024.

LinkedIn

Ensuring they have an optimised and easily searchable LinkedIn profile is one of my main pieces of advice for IT contactors. I have found some IT contractors are doing themselves a disservice by either not updating their LinkedIn or mislabelling their job titles.

These are my three top tips for IT contractors looking to optimise their LinkedIn profiles to attract businesses and recruiters.

  • Update generic job titles

I have seen contractors only use the job title ‘CEO’ on their profiles. Even if they are the CEO of their Limited Company, ‘CEO’ should not be in their profile headline. It will lower their chances of being found by recruiters. This is because they will not be visible when recruiters search for professionals with their actual job title.

This also goes with generic job titles. Contractors should include the technologies they are proficient in throughout their profile, as well as accreditations and when they are available for work.

Time and time again I get, “Oh yeah I need to get round to LinkedIn” sort of responses from contractors, but the reality is, if they don’t listen to my advice, they will find it more difficult to secure new opportunities in 2024.

  • Curate connections

IT contractors can benefit massively by connecting with old managers, recruiters, and colleagues. Often, as IT contractors work alone and move from role to role, there are fewer opportunities to bond with the other employees at the company they work for. In situations where contractors work fully remotely, they have very limited opportunities to network internally.

By connecting with old managers and colleagues on LinkedIn, contractors can create a more lasting impression on a company after they’ve left, leaving the door open to re-engage.

  • Remain active

If anyone asks me about how to remain visible on LinkedIn, my advice for contractors is to schedule 30 minutes into their diary each week to positively interact with posts on LinkedIn. It can be as simple as congratulating an old contact on their new job or reposting a relevant tech article. By keeping their LinkedIn profile active and communicating with managers and recruiters, IT contractors increase their chances of finding work.

Training and personal development

Future-proofing skills is my top advice for contractors who are looking for greater career development. There are a number of ways contractors can do this, such as:

  • Plan to go into a niche job/ technology – I know some contractors who decided to take a rate cut in order to gain a skill or experience that would give them a niche and highly sought-after skillset in the long term. By looking ahead, they have put themselves in a position where they will have less competition from other tech professionals in the future, which will heighten their demand and day rate.
  • Get involved and train in the beta versions of new tech – this will keep a contractors’ skills from becoming outdated.
  • Be smart about training opportunities – often IT contractors will grab whatever training they can get when they’re between assignments, but taking the time to find the best opportunity for them will develop their skills in a positive direction.

By engaging with the latest tech and developments, many contractors will increase their chances of finding a great job opportunity and raising their day rate.

Good relationships

My advice for contractors who want to put themselves in a good position for 2024 is to attend every Christmas party they can go to and chat to as many people as they can.

Alternatively, if it’s possible, I would advise contractors to regularly meet with their old managers for a coffee, beer etc. Building a solid foundation with their current and past managers, as well as colleagues, will keep them in a good position to hear of new opportunities. Even if face-to-face isn’t feasible, they can schedule an email to go out to their past clients for their birthdays and Christmas. This could restart a conversation and lead to a potential opportunity.

Professional references

A great tip for IT contractors is to make sure they end their contract by getting a written reference from their manager. Ideally, the reference would be on letterheaded paper, or an email would suffice too. It should state what their responsibilities were, the benefits their work had, and as many relevant metrics as possible.

A brilliant piece of advice for contractors is to get in the habit of doing this regularly as part of the exiting process with a client. Doing this consistently can give them years worth of references and testimonials that can be easily shared with future clients. I’ve known individuals who even host their references on a closed website and share with relevant managers or recruiters.

The risk of not doing this is greater for IT contractors, as shorter stints at companies can mean that the manager does not remember the exact details of what they did as clearly. Or can complicate matters if the manager has moved on or even passed away.

 

There is no guarantee that 2024 will be better than 2023. So, contractors need to prepare themselves and follow my top tips for IT contractors to have the best shot at having a commercially strong year.

If you are an IT contractor and are looking for your next opportunity, send in your CV here and we will contact you if we have any opportunities that could be a good fit.

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