One of the biggest perks of being an engineering or technical contractor is the flexibility to work on a variety of assignments with various employers. One thing contracting never lacks is variety. However, contracting jobs don’t fall out of the sky. As one job ends, you must source your next engagement in order to maintain a full schedule. Many contractors struggle with the question of when to begin looking for their next assignment to ensure a smooth transition. The answer depends on your unique circumstances and experience.
Know How Long Can You Afford to Be “Between” Assignments
Experienced contractors know they need to develop savings accounts to help sustain them if it takes some time to find a new assignment. People who are new to contracting are less likely to have this safety net to fall back on and thus may need to start working immediately after an assignment ends. If you don’t have that safety net, you’ll want to keep your feelers out the entire time you’re on an assignment. You don’t want to miss a potential opportunity, and you don’t want to be caught behind the proverbial eight ball.
Think Like a Permanent Employee
The whole point of contracting is to shed the shackles and limitations of a permanent position, but contractors can use the “norms” of permanent work and permanent job hunting to guide their search for a new assignment. High-level permanent engineers and professionals tend to give four weeks’ notice to their employers to aid in the transition to a new employee. This gives them the time to wrap up loose ends before moving on. Consider four weeks to be your ultimate deadline to wrap up and line up. Make sure with about one month left on your current contract that you have begun to ramp up your search.
Take Some of the Stress Off Your Plate
Lining up new contracting assignments can be a hassle, and even if you’re a seasoned vet who has mastered the art of timing, there is never a guarantee you’ll line something up quickly. This means you will have to spend a lot of your free time engaged in a search, which somewhat defeats the purpose of a flexible contracting lifestyle.
There is a way to master the art of timing, keep your calendar full and cast a wider net in your search. A niche recruiter that focuses on engineering and technical projects can continually work behind the scenes to help you line up an assignment as a current contract winds down. Cultivating a strong relationship with a contractor will help them get to know you as a professional, understand your needs and preferences and match you with great opportunities to use your skills. The more you work with the recruiter, the better their ability to match you and to “sell” you to their clients, which means over time, assignment searching will run like a well-oiled machine.