Getting Followup Contracts
It is a real bonus, to be able to get followup contracts, i.e. from companies that used you before. However, many contractors lose out on this unnecessarily.
The people most likely to employ you are previous clients, at places that you worked before.
After all you have an advantage on all the other people who are applying. You have knowledge of the systems and you have knowledge of their business.
Also, you have knowledge of the tools and how they set them up and use them there. You have knowledge too of their way of working and their culture, which is very important.
Everybody knows that, even if you have all of the main requirements for a new job at a new client site, when you actually start there, there is still quite a learning curve.
Contract Work Available
According to one agent that I spoke to, there is work about. However, a lot of it it is clients who want people who used to work for them back again.
Contractors with knowledge of existing systems are at a premium when companies want to make small, or more hefty-sized, changes to those systems.
Too many contractors (and permanent employees) burn their bridges when they leave a company.
They say goodbye and many of them you never see again. Not only that, many are not contactable again if some new work comes up in the area of the system where they worked before.
Lost Contract Opportunities
As someone who has run an IT department before, I‘ve often found that when a piece of work comes up where I could have used some of the contractors that I had used in the past, normally around half of them can‘t be found again, even after trying to contact them directly, through their agents, or by asking around the department to see if anyone had kept in touch with them.
There must have been many occasions when contractors have been sitting at home, unemployed and in dire financial straits, with their marriages or relationships breaking up, when I, or one of their other previous clients, was trying desperately to get hold of them, without success.
It‘s a wasted opportunity. How do you know that it hasn‘t happened to you?
So what should you do then?
Change Your Attitude
Well, for a start, you should change your attitude.
You should remind yourself every day, ‘I am a small businessman (or woman) not an employee. I should act like a small businessman would, and not an employee’.
I think that it is that mindset where contractors often see themselves as temporary workers rather than as small businessmen in their own right, that prevents them from acting as one.
What should you do then when you leave a site?
The following does not apply to those who have been marched off the premises.
Keep in Contact with Previous Clients
Firstly, you should make sure that they your client can get hold of you again. Also make sure that they make contact with you first, if you can, rather than your agency.
Often agencies have a clause in their contract which states that you are not allowed to do work for the client within a specified period of time after you have left the company.
There are arguments as to how legal this clause is, but I won‘t address them here.
However, even if it is within the specified period of time, and you feel that you want to involve the agency, it will give you a better bargaining position if the client gets in touch with you first, rather than the agency.
You can then cut a better deal with the agency if you call them up and tell them that there‘s a pot of free money for them if they‘ll do you a reasonable rate.
Of course, if it is outside the specified time limit all the better for you.
It will be very annoying for you if the client contacts the agency to get in touch with you, after the period has run out.
This gives the agent the whip hand. This is what happens in most circumstances, I‘m afraid.
You should always make sure that you are available for followup contracts. It’s almost criminal the number of contractors who don’t do this.
What Should Contractors Do to Get Followup Contracts?
So, what should you do then?
It is imperative to have an end-of-contract meeting with your client. What should you do at that meeting and what questions should you ask?
We answer that in a follow-up article called ‘When you Leave a Company, How to Maximise the Chance of Coming Back‘.
See also the follow up to that called Repeat Contract – How to Maximise Your Chances of Coming Back Part 2.
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