How To Earn Significantly More Money, When Your Career Hits a Plateau!

Part 19 of 21 in the Series: Career Advice - Ask IT Career Coach

How To Earn Significantly More Money, When Your Career Hits a Plateau!

How To Earn Significantly More Money, When Your Career Hits a Plateau!


Have you you reached a plateau in your career?

If you have, consider becoming a contractor.

As a contractor, you may earn significantly more money (20% to 50% more) and you will find more challenging work for your skill sets.

In this post, I will show how you to minimize the risks while maximizing the benefits of being a contractor so that you end up with significantly more money in your pocket!

Is A Contracting Lifestyle Right For You?

Contractors actually have a corner on the market because they have better, more up-to-date skills, better job exposure, more hands-on experience and better marketing skills which leads to more (and not less) job stability.

Contractors have a refined sense for making money because being a contractor is one step removed from being a business owner.

Contractors focus on learning marketable skills and on staying ahead of the technology curve because the best paid contractors have the sharpest, most marketable skills.

Being a contractor, involves striking a balance between the false sense of security that regular, full-time employees are sometimes lulled into and the fear that sometimes overwhelms business owners.

Contractors also have access to full medical, dental and 401K plans just like regular, full-time employees.

So, my question to you is: have you considered becoming a contractor?

Here are some of the signs that your career has hit a plateau:

  • You are not being challenged at work: you have not worked on a project that challenges or stretches you for a long time
  • Your skills have stagnated: your skills have stagnated because you no longer work on leading / cutting edge projects
  • You have lost your sense of direction: you spend more time dealing with corporate politics and less time getting results
  • You are not getting any recognition: you can’t seem to move up in your career or earn more money regardless of how hard you work
  • You have a boring job: you dread going to work because you job is boring … boring … boring!

If have been affected by any of these situations, there is good news for you.

Becoming a contractor can lift the ceiling on your salary or provide you with more challenging work, without causing you to lose the best benefits of a full-time, permanent / regular job.

Here are some tips to help you create a successful contracting career

TIP #1: Build Your Contracting Career Around Marketable Skills

Analyze your local economy to find out the sectors that are hiring. Based on these sectors, you can figure out the type of contracting experience that is going to sell.

Note: One industry that hires professionals from all sorts of backgrounds is the “Web Development Industry”.

TIP #2: Manage The Longevity of Contracting Jobs

Contracting positions should be six months or longer. I would advice you to stay away from contracting jobs that are less than 6 months because they are just too short to get anything useful done.

When you hear that a contracting gig is less than six (6) months, you may need to walk away, because that kind of job may come with a lot of pressure to perform or a lot of stress.

Focus on long-term contracting jobs, except if you are starting from scratch or you are willing to work any job, just to succeed.

On the other hand, contracting jobs that last 1, 2 years or more are desirable because they offer just about as much security as regular, permanent, full-time jobs.

Contracting jobs have longevity. They may not last as long as full-time, permanent jobs but they last long enough to be meaningful!

TIP #3: Bill A Lot More!

How do contractors handle the shorter employment periods? They bill a lot more!

Assuming that as a business analyst contractor, you earn $65,000 (USD) or £41,675 (British Pounds).

When you become a contract business analyst, you may earn anywhere from 20 percent ($13,000 or £8,345) to 50 percent ($32,500 to £20,800) more .. without changing your career or going to college for a masters or post-graduate education!

Now, that extra money should not to be invested in your lifestyle, buying a bigger house or more cars. Instead, it should be put away in a savings, retirement or investment account because you will need it!

Contractors have to account for down-times. A down-time is the time between projects, contracts or jobs when a contractor is looking for the next gig, assignment or project.

Contractors may encounter down-times in between their assignments which last up to a month or longer.

A business-savvy contractor will use down-times to learn new skills or sharpen existing skills.

As a contractor, learning a new (marketable) skill or sharpening an existing skill, means that you will encounter less and less of a downtime and that you will be paid more money because you always bring the best skill-sets to your projects!

So, it is not uncommon to see contractors, earn 50% more than their full-time contemporaries because they have better, more marketable, sharper skills!

TIP #4: Contractors Don’t Have To Travel

Contrary to popular opinions, contractors are not really required to travel except when:

  • They don’t have marketable skills and because of that, have to travel to different locations to get a good job
  • They choose to travel because they like being on the road even though there are contracting jobs that do not involve traveling.

Keep in mind that the majority of employers will disclose any traveling requirements before you are hired.

I won’t advice that you to bring up the question of traveling except if it’s mentioned in the job posting or interview.

If traveling is mentioned, be frank and tell the employer during a face to face job interview, that you don’t want to travel because of personal or family commitments.

Contractors do not have to travel. So, if you find yourself traveling excessively, you either have the wrong skills or you are in the wrong job.

TIP #5: Contracting Does Not Negatively Affect Your Credit

As a contractor, you actually have a full-time job and your bank, financial institution or creditors can call your staffing company and verify your employment history or salary just as easily as if you were a regular, full-time employee.

If you are working for yourself, or you are billing the employer directly, you may have a tougher time getting credit because you are self-employed.

However, most contractors are employed with a staffing agency, so they really have a full-time, regular job just like everyone else.

Getting loans, credit or financing for a contractor is usually just as easy as getting credit for a full-time employee because contractors earn a lot more money and they probably have more savings, which means that their credit is just as good.

TIP #6: Manage Your Contracting Profile

Let’s say that you use the same staffing agency all the time, then your employment history / profile will look like that of a full-time, permanent employee even though you change clients often, because you are still employed with one staffing company.

However, if you change staffing agencies every time you change jobs, your work profile will look less stable and that may negatively affect your employment profile during a job interview or a credit check.

Fortunately, you have a good measure of control over which staffing agency you work for.

For starters, make sure that you work with a recruiter that you like and then stay in close communication with that recruiter throughout the life of your project.

Money Making TIP:Get your recruiter to start looking for new projects at least six (6) weeks before the exit date or the ending of your project and you will be able to transition from one job to another with zero or little down-time.

TIP #7: YES, Contractors Must Be Highly Skilled

Contractors are the most skilled, knowledgeable and experienced professionals on a project. That is why they are paid all those big bucks.

Being a contractor does not mean that you have spent a lot of years in the industry. It does not mean that you have more formal education or more certifications than your regular, full-time colleagues.

You do not need a post-graduate degree, an MBA or a computer science background to become a contractor because college education does not parallel the functional skills required for success in Information Technology jobs.

Being a contractor does means that you are performance minded or that you are obsessed about achieving results.

Read this post titled: “Can You Perform, Prove It!”

This post was written in answer to a question posted by a business analyst

This question was submitted to “ASK IT Career Coach by a business analyst looking for advice on how to become a contractor.

If you have a challenging career situation, be sure to [Submit A Question] using our Free, Amazing, [Ask IT Career Coach] – Ask A Question Service.

For more information, read this post titled” Do You Want To Become A Consultant?”




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