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IT pros are leaving the corporate world like traders at the closing bell on Wall Street--fast and en masse. That's the inside scoop from an IT executive friend of mine at a Fortune 500 bank. According to my source, in the last two months 70 percent of his IT employees that quit their corporate jobs are leaving to become consultants. The reasons are typical--consulting simply offers techies more money and personal flexibility than the corporate grind. While the gleam of freedom and riches is still bright in the eyes of newly minted contractors, I decided to ask a simple question: In the long run, will these contractors succeed? Five Best Practices for Consultants I've written in the past about the success factors of contractors, including planning for downtime, a rainy day fund, insurance, retirement, and networking. But this recent revelation prompted me to look more deeply into the things HotGigs has learned about the contractor marketplace. We've learned that successful consultants follow a core set of best practices, including the following five behaviors:

They stay current on technology. They invest in themselves with training and new skills acquisition. They know how to run the "business side" of being a consultant. They think more about long-range career opportunities, not just money, when considering a new gig. They know how to market themselves and they do so frequently and consistently. While these five strategies keep a contractor vital, busy, and at the head of the profession, the reality is most contractors need to modify their behavior to live up to these high standards. Most Contractors Not Following Best Practices HotGigs' study of the state of the IT marketplace showed stark gaps between what contractors say they do and what they should be doing. For instance, being schooled in the latest technology is essential for a techie. But a whopping 49 percent of contractors surveyed said they only invest $1,000 a year--or less--in training and skills acquisition. This meager investment is hardly enough to bone up on a new programming language or qualify to sit for a certification exam. Business acumen was woefully inadequate, too. The majority of contractors ranked business skills first and second in importance out of a list of seven skill types they want to acquire. They said they want to learn more; bookkeeping time management negotiating skills A good step in the right direction to help consultants manage their business. When asked about


their least favorite aspect of consulting, the majority of contractors said they "didn't really like at all" locating new leads. Negotiating rates, invoicing, and accounting issues ranked second among the least popular activities. Money Holds Too Much Allure Money drives most consultants too much. As my executive friend at the Fortune 500 bank pointed out, contractors are seduced away from their day job by the whisper of higher earnings as consultants. HotGigs' survey showed that money was the number one deciding factor for consultants selecting new projects. But money isn't always the best consideration when examining a contract. Things like the prestige of the project or the company and the ability to network your way into more contracts may be a better consideration when thinking about a long-term career. Marketing Skills Weak The majority of tech contractors surveyed said that marketing continues to be a weakness. Contractors rely heavily on referrals to land new opportunities. While important, word of mouth is a passive way of marketing that may keep you hovering in the safe zone--in the same pay scale and type of project, further limiting your ability to learn new programming chops. Only 32 percent of respondents were people who I'd call "active" in terms of marketing themselves. Active means seeking out new contract opportunities at least six to 12 times a year. With so many projects only lasting three to six months at a time, the importance of continually getting your name in front of prospects cannot be overemphasized. When you enter the market as a consultant, you face the consequence of becoming unemployed if you fail to rigorously market yourself. Additionally, you're at a disadvantage when negotiating contracts and rates if you're desperate for work. You'll compromise your pay, accept work that may not interest you, and ultimately shorten your long-term prognosis as a contractor. It's Possible to Obtain Better Contractor Skills Of course, all of these counterproductive behaviors are reversible. Sites like HotGigs that offer techies a suite of products, contractor management, and networking tools make it easier to break out of self-limiting behaviors as a contractor. For instance, online training is a click away, with HotGigs E-learning. You can even research consultant bill rates and monitor who is checking you out. This makes it easy to follow up independently with a phone call or email to the hiring manager. You can also import a list of contacts, invite them into the HotGigs network, and promote your availability to them with a simple click. In the coming months, more features will further enhance the Consultant Desktop on HotGigs. The goal is the long run success of contractors like you, whose numbers continue to grow at record pace.

Doug has a long history in the recruiting and staffing industry. He started in IT as the Director of IT for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Doug then started his own IT consulting & staffing firm (Quantum Consulting) which he grew to over 75 consultants. In 1995 Doug sold his firm and founded techies.com which received over $100 million in venture capital. Doug's currently the founder and CEO of HotGigs.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Doug_Berg

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Full-time to Freelance More IT Pros Are Becoming Contractors - Will They Succeed  

IT pros are leaving the corporate world like traders at the closing bell on Wall Street--fast and en masse. That's the inside scoop from an...

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