In this Contractor FAQ, one of our readers asks whether her relative lack of experience in the permanent world would be a problem when searching for her first IT contract role.
One employer for the past 7 years, now seeking my first IT contract position
I’ve been looking through some of the guides on your site and must say they have been extremely helpful. I am thinking about starting out as an IT Contractor (Software Testing). My one big concern is that I only have experience from one IT company.
I have stayed with the same company for 7 years so have little experience when it comes to the different ways other companies work. I am however, a very fast learner and extremely passionate about doing a god job so genuinely believe I’ll make it as an IT Contractor.
I’m not quite sure what position this will put me in when looking for my first contract. I plan on setting up a Limited Company but obviously when it comes to looking for my first contract, it’s not going to look great on my CV when there are no contracts associated with the company and only one 7 year ‘permie’ position.
Is there anything I can do to maximise the potential of being noticed by clients with such little company experience? I know a good number of contractors and will start networking with them and plan on using a lot of my own time to boost my skills.
I’d hate to think my CV was overlooked because I’ve remained loyal to a company instead of doing a couple of years here and there.
Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated.
This is a common concern amongst first time contractors. Here is our reply:
Skills more important that permanent career history
Funnily enough, lots of people ask this question. They’re concerned that working for one employer for a long time is an impediment to contracting, but it isn’t.
If you’re about to start contracting, then agents/clients aren’t expecting to see lots of previous assignments on your CV.
What they’re after is a) the right skills for the job, and b) the right amount of experience – more than anything else.
The main difference between permanent and contract employment is that contractors are hired mainly for the skills they provide, and 7 years is a significant chunk of time – experience / skills wise – whether this has been gained via working for one employer or several.
As a first timer, I’d certainly recommend reading this guide, which is our most popular article on starting out.
I’d get yourself set up with a LinkedIn profile right away (if you haven’t already), and start networking, as this is the best source of future contract opportunities.
For your first contract, I’d be fairly open minded – as you may not secure exactly the ‘perfect’ role you may be after, but over time, you will be able to pick and choose more.