IT Contractor market becoming much more specialised

Specialised IT Contractor Market
Specialised IT Contractor Market nowadays

Specialised Contract Market

It’s a much more specialised market now.

We received this from a reader.

John’s IT Surgery Question

Dr. McLaughlin, I keep applying for contract jobs but I don‘t seem to be having much success.

Many of those jobs seem to be right up my street as far as skills are concerned but I‘m not getting any replies.

Even if I do get a call from the agency they ask me if I have any banking experience, which I haven‘t, or Billing experience etc.

Success as an IT Contractor
Success as an IT Contractor

What difference the sector makes to a developer, I don‘t know.

Are you finding that the market is becoming more specialised and that you have to have sector experience as well as the right skills?

Dr. McLaughlin‘s IT Contractor Surgery

John, the IT Contractor market has been getting more specialised, but this has been exacerbated by the last downturn.

When there are more contractors than contracts available, clients can be more choosy.

I remember when I was contracting I would do one contract for a bank, the next for a manufacturing company and the next for a telecoms company.

Who‘s Who

My CV read like a who‘s who of the different sectors that take contractors.

It was very seldom that I stayed in the same sector for two contracts in a row.

Also, the market was less specialised when I worked in it, in terms of skills.

Want to Succeed as a Contractor
Want to Succeed as a Contractor in the future

The market has definitely become more specialised in terms of both skills and sector experience nowadays.

Contract Market Upturn

Of course, when an upturn comes there are fewer contractors around than there are contractors and that is the time to pick up both new skills and new sector experience.

You are right when you say that sector experience, whilst important for a Business Analyst, doesn‘t make much difference for a developer – unless you are working on exactly the same programs as you were at another place, which is unusual as ever company is different.

Agents and Clients

I think clients understand this – but it is our old friends the agents that don‘t.

They will get all the technical requirements from a client and then add to it that it is in the banking sector or telecoms sector when they put their ads on Jobserve etc. or when they scam their own databases.

It is our friends the agents who are disqualifying you from being put forward for interview.

As you know, agents know very little about our industry and the skills needed (although there are exceptions).

And there‘s very little we can do about this except to wait for the next boom when it will be easier to jump sectors.

Opportunity to Change Sectors

When you do get the opportunity to skip sectors you should take it as it widens the number of jobs that agencies think you are fit for.

Successful IT Contractor
Becoming a Successful IT Contractor

Say you are in the banking sector already and you get a choice of taking another banking contract or a telecoms contract, you should take the telecoms one, even if it is a bit less money, as you are giving yourself more shots at contracts in the future – and that may prove crucial in a downturn.

Also, sectors come and go, in terms of growing or declining, and you don‘t want to find yourself ‘specialising, in a sector that is on the way down, where lots of contractors are competing for fewer contracts.

The market is becoming much more specialised.

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