How to become an HR contractor

Q I understand a lot of HR vacancies at present are contract-based – what advice do you have for people before embarking on a career as a contractor?

How to become an HR contractor

Q I understand a lot of HR vacancies at present are contract-based – what advice do you have for people before embarking on a career as a contractor?

A. A career as a contractor can be exciting. But, more than this, the variety of assignments and organisations also adds skills and experience to your CV. Employers are now confident in the skills available to them at short notice. So if you are considering contract work, we suggest you consider the following:

Representation: Contact a recruiting expert who understands the intricacies of your industry and who can represent you to potential employers so you access the best of the temporary assignments available.

Communicate availability: Keep your recruitment consultant informed about your availability – we assume you are available for assignments until you tell us otherwise! It does not look professional for you or us if we endorse you for an employer’s temporary assignment only to discover you cannot complete it.

Update your skills: Your best selling point as a temp is your skills base, so make sure your skills continue to develop. Remember to tell your consultant when they do, so you are considered for a wider range of assignments and represented to your true potential!

First impressions: As with a job interview, arrive at least ten minutes early on the first day of your assignment. Walk tall and offer a smile and a firm handshake when being introduced. Look professional, act professionally and dress professionally.

Preparation: Before an assignment commences, find out who you are to report to, the tasks you’re likely to undertake and research the organisation concerned by visiting their website.

Professionalism: When on assignment, a high degree of professionalism is expected. You need to respect the policies, procedures and culture of the company at which you are working. The expectations of temporaries and contractors are often higher than those of your full- time colleagues.

Ask questions if necessary: Temporary workers are hired for their experience and skills, but you are allowed to ask questions if you are not certain about a particular task.

Etiquette: Unlike some permanent roles, it’s not acceptable to leave your mobile phone on or use the work telephone for any personal communications. Similarly, do not use your work time to get to know your new work colleagues.

Market yourself: Once you are in an assignment, you are in the best position to market yourself within that company. Don’t be afraid to look for further opportunities – ask if there are any other areas or departments in which your skills might be needed. Let your face be seen.

Assignment extension: Most temporary assignments have a finish date, but these can often be extended. Keep your consultant posted of these changes so they can make sure everyone is happy. Sometimes plans change, on both sides, and if a consultant knows in advance they can help to minimise any inconvenience.

Emma Egan, manager of Hays Human Resources 02 8226 9797.

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