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IT Contracting: 5 Tips For Success

Don't be "just" a contractor. A recruiter shares advice for becoming an indispensable asset to current -- and future -- employers.

all over the globe, separates the invaluable resource from the run-of-the-mill hired gun.

"If you are on a large, national project with remote teams -- or an international project -- they need people who are clear communicators and big team players," Yarger said, adding that she hears regularly from hiring managers who tire of contractors who bring the requisite technical skills to the team but ruffle too many feathers in their communications, especially digitally.

4. Manage your professional reputation.
Contracting, consulting, freelancing, "micro-jobbing" -- whatever the name, this kind of work sometimes bears a branding problem, as in: You're "just" a contractor. For IT pros who want contract work, it can help to take steps to build your own reputation as a highly skilled professional, not someone floating between throwaway gigs. Starting your own one-person company and branding yourself accordingly on LinkedIn and elsewhere is one step toward doing so, Yarger said. Treat it like a business and others will notice; this can give you an advantage with hiring managers looking to avoid people who treat contract as a temporary stop between salaried positions. People like that might be thought of as not as productive because they might be spending time looking for another job.

Even if you are ultimately looking for a salaried, "full-time" gig, you can still use that desire to set yourself apart -- if you present yourself properly. "It's all about how you market yourself," Yarger said. "If you took a contract because you wanted to work on this really exciting, cutting-edge project or you wanted to learn a new skill or use a new tool, that's a totally valid reason. You're looking to increase your market value and you're showing you're taking initiative to learn new things and give it a go before committing to a full-time employer."

5. Play the market.
We don't mean day-trading here. Rather, invest in a thorough understand of the current IT job market. It's the "hot" roles and skills that typically generate the greatest demand for contract workers -- and that typically command the highest pay rates. If you're reinvesting in your own skills development consistently over time, following industry trends can, simply put, help you make more money.

Yarger said she sees lots of contractors currently doing well in mobile development, CRM development and analysis (especially with Salesforce.com), user experience and front-end design work, and other software skills that are often needed for specific projects rather than ongoing development.

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