So, What Is a Successful Computer Contractor is from Aussie contractor site www.brainbox.com.au
Successful Computer Contractor
Are you a successful computer contractor?
Your success as a contractor can be measured from two perspectives – your own and how much companies want to employ you.
One definition that should cover both goes like this:
It is someone who enjoys his job, makes buckets of money, has sensible working hours and is liked by management as well as co-workers.
One of the big mistakes through modern corporate history is that most employees incentive programs are based on the ‘˜if they are good then pay them more money‘ policy.
True, money is a great incentive for most contractors, but because we as individuals are so different in our wants and needs, there is much more to it.
For example, one contract I had was to work in a noisy environment. Alarms went off every so often and amplified phones rang every second minute.
I was disgusted that anyone would ask me to work under such conditions and I was ready to walk out.
But right next to me another contractor was working happily away, not bothered at all in this noisy inferno. This illustrates how different his view of a successful computer contractor was from mine.
They say ‘how long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on!’
We are in various circumstances and we cannot just compare our goals, wants and aspirations with that of other contractors.
Successful Computer Contractor Criteria
You will have to define your own criteria for being a successful computer contractor. One essential part of doing this requires that you, so to speak, ‘find your professional shelf’ in life.
Ask yourself questions like: ‘What am I good at?’, and ‘what kind of work would I like to do in the future?’ When you have answered these questions you can then map out a strategy of how to become a successful contractor.
Take for example a high paid AS400 programmer who is very good at what he is doing.
However, he realises that he must be careful not to get stuck in an area that is slowly drying up.
The top computer contractor wants to work with more up-to-date skill.Â Then he can do one of following things:
1. Get a lower paid junior role for a while until his skills catch up with his developer experience.
2. Try to change work area within his current job. Perhaps join the PC development team that develops screen scraping applications on old legacy systems written on the AS400.
The second solution is by far the most ideal. That’s because it bridges current experience, and is less likely to involve a pay cut.
In a way, the successful computer contractor often faces this problem of how to constantly upgrade their skills to cope with a very volatile industry.
I estimate that at the moment 20% of contractor‘s professional knowledge is becoming obsolete every year. This spells ‘self-training’, and a lot of it, if we are to remain successful contractors.
Quite often contractors miss out on great opportunities to diversify their experience. That’s because they forget to catch the opportunity when it is there.
For example, if your team leader tells his team that he has three projects coming up, and asks you first which one of them you prefer to work on, does the successful computer contractor pick the most comfortable job that you already know how to do?
Or do you look for new opportunities to diversify your experience?
Sometimes contractors miss out on opportunities because they fail to make it known to their managers and team leaders that they are interested in a particular area.
One trap that many contractors are falling into is to work too much, and the tune goes like this:
They are doing quite well and they might have an hourly rate that is two or three times that of a permanent employee.
This provides a very strong incentive to work long hours and it is not unusual for employers to encourage contractors to work fifty plus hours to meet tight deadlines.
Despite earning good money, this is not what I would call a successful computer contractor. Many contractors simply burn out and their families suffer while they turn out low quality work.
Enjoying your job is a vital part of being a successful computer contractor, however many contractors use their job as the only source of satisfaction in life.
I can only say to you if you are like that: ‘Get a life’, because if you think that you can keep on being a top performer without having a social life, you are as smart as the Californian robber who‘s revolver failed to fire during a robbery and then peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again and this time it worked!
Most people need to have a well-functioning social life to stay on top, to be creative and function well in a team. Sensible working hours are essential for you to be a long-term success!
A successful computer contractor is good at assessing how long it takes to perform a certain task. This includes being able to say STOP when someone is having unrealistic expectations of how much you can do.
Criteria to be a Successful Computer Contractor
So my message is two-fold. First of all you have to define your own criteria for success and how you can achieve this. When this is done there are a number of distinct patterns of behaviour that will help you achieve your goals to become a successful computer contractor.
This is an extract from the book ‘Successful Computer Contracting in Australia’ by Christian Kreiberg.
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