How to Become a Contractor

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Becoming a contractor can be both exciting and rewarding for professionals seeking new opportunities. In this article, we'll help you seamlessly transition into the world of contracting, ensuring you make a great impression on recruiters and hiring managers.


1. Update your resume and portfolio

Since recruiters scan through hundreds of resumes every day, it’s imperative to perfect yours. We recommend your use a simple format as most resumes go through an ATS (resume scanner) to extract your information. Creatives (eg. UX designers) should have both a simple resume and a creative one.

Your job descriptions should be thorough and highlight the projects you worked on, the team you supported or lead, the metrics you reached, and the tools you used.

Lastly, ensure your portfolio and work samples are available upon request.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile

To ensure consistency with your updated resume, update your LinkedIn profile and job information.

Activate the “Open to work” status and fill out the rest of the information including job types, job title, location, etc. Make sure to select open to contract and opt for “Open to recruiters only” if confidentiality is crucial.

3. Network

Connect with friends and former colleagues who are experienced contractors to gather insights into the market, contract durations, pay rates, and potential job opportunities.

Engage with LinkedIn groups in your field to stay informed about job listings and network with recruiters. Leverage this platform to showcase your profile and actively pursue job opportunities.

4. Calculate your rate

Networking should have provided valuable information about the current market rates, compare the numbers to your current salary and adjust accordingly.

To calculate your W2 contractor rate, use your current or wanted annual compensation and divide it by the number of annual work hours.

For example, someone making $70,000, would make $35 as a W2 contractor ($70,000/2000h – 2000hours accounts for 2 weeks of time off). To make up for holidays and additional benefits you may have had as a permanent employee, we would recommend they increase that rate by 10-15% ($40h).

You could make a little more money if you decide to open your own personal corporation as the burden is lower for a staffing agency when you are a personal corporation than when you are employed as a W2 employee. With that, make sure you open your personal corporation promptly as it needs to be ready prior upon offer. You’ll be asked for your articles of incorporation, insurance, and bank account with your corporation name on it.

5. Reach out to recruiters and staffing agency

Find recruiters and staffing agencies that hire in your industry and reach out to them expressing your interest in new opportunities. If they don’t have an opening at the moment, ask to be added to their database and check back with them a bit later.

When a recruiter reaches out to you regarding an opportunity, hop on a quick phone call to discuss it. If the opportunity isn’t a match, be polite and ask to be contacted again when they have something that is more aligned. If the opportunity is a good match but the recruiter needs you to make a few changes to your resume or sign a “right to represent” email, do that promptly; sometimes an hour is enough for the position to be closed.

In the instance a recruiter calls you while you are busy, schedule a call for later. Remember every opportunity unexplored is an opportunity lost, think success!

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