The software development market
The marketplace continues to grow and does not seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. With new start-ups popping up everywhere, large digital transformations occurring at some of the biggest organisations around and with more businesses enhancing their online presence, the demand for skilled developers has never been greater.
In such a buoyant market, many organisations struggle to find the quality they need in the people they hire. From experience, for a lot of these organisations, there's a preference to have a permanent fixture within their team, who has a vested interest in the company and its goals.
However, we're seeing more and more companies look to contractors to help them deliver and to provide additional expertise and experience, especially on complex transformation and build projects. Being a part of this as a contractor can open up a whole new world of experiences, and enable you to cater to a variety of business needs. It can also give you exposure to different teams and technologies.
The risks and the rewards of contracting
Contracting can offer you a lot of benefits:
I am sure you are reading this and thinking that this contract business sounds great, let me get my notice handed in tomorrow. However, with anything that seems too good to be true, there are risks:
These are the most common pros and cons of being a contractor that I think anyone considering making the move should evaluate. However, above anything else, I'd always advise that you take some time to think about any impact on your reputation.
As a freelancer, you are an expiring asset to any business so it is important that you are held in high regard to ensure you are not spending too much time out of action. Good contractors are continually able to keep themselves in employment and guarantee their services are in demand from both old clients as well as new. Companies will on occasion even push back projects to wait for someone they have worked with before, showing just how important a preceding reputation can be.
Your Career as a Contractor
With this in mind, the advice I routinely give to newcomers is to build your career as a freelancer, much like you would in a permanent capacity and not find yourself out of your depth.
That does not mean you need to take something that is a walk in the park and that will bore you to death after three days. Find a role which is within your comfort zone and build from there.
As a contractor, you are paid a premium for the unique services you can provide
As a contractor, you are primarily brought in for your specialist knowledge. With that knowledge, there is naturally a higher price tag and often an increased weight of expectation on delivery. So, above all, it's important you have the skills to handle this. Usually, we'd advise that someone should consider contracting after a minimum of three years or so of relevant commercial experience - perhaps a little less if you have specific experience working with a niche type of technology that is in high demand.
Now that is not to say you couldn’t go contracting early on in your career and be a success, but from experience, those that make leap too early often end up in an uphill battle where the risks certainly outweigh the rewards.
Source: We are future heads