How to find work as a contractor or freelancer

Whether you’ve just started out as a contractor or freelancer, or you’ve been working for yourself for several years, the chances are you’re keenly aware of the pitfalls of finding clients. In a lot of cases, the work is out there and you’re available but somehow the two just won’t connect.

Diversity is the key. Using a single channel to find work will limit your options, especially at a time when recruitment practices are changing radically. Tried and tested methods will need to be used alongside some new job-hunting techniques.

Fish for jobs

There are any number of ways to find work, but the trick is to be selective. You might not be amazed to learn that opportunities are growing online. Obviously there are plenty of generic recruitment websites where you might find short-term contracts, but often there are specialist websites for your industry which might yield better returns. Similarly, you might find that job boards tailored towards freelancers contain a wider variety of projects, with a short brief explaining the company and what they need you to do.

In addition to this, you’ll notice there are plenty of so-called freelance “bidding sites” where you can sell your services to clients from around the world, and they can be a useful way of getting work. That said, they are best approached with plenty of caution, because they can be more trouble than they’re worth. Don’t waste hours trawling sites and making bids for pay which just isn’t worth it – work smart and think about whether you’re better off spending that time on other channels.

Come in from the cold

These options all come with one big advantage – you know that the company posting the vacancy definitely has a job that needs to be done, which is not the case with unsolicited pitches. But you’d be surprised at how successful sending cold emails or calls can be sometimes, provided that you pitch them well. Draft and redraft your pitch, explaining who you are, what you do and why you’re good at it in as few words as possible, and then either send or say it to your prospect. You never know what the client might need. It might sound terrifying if you’re not used to it, but it could pay off handsomely.

Spin a web

Networking. It’s a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many , but getting out there and going to local industry events to forge face-to-face relationships can really help your future prospects. Of course, you don’t have to bound into the room and declare your availability – just be friendly and knowledgeable. If it arises that your new-found contact might have a need you can meet, by all means tell them about it. If not, don’t assume it was a disaster: keep in touch and you never know where that lead could take you in the future.

But not all networking will take place in person – think about webinars, commenting on and writing blogs and of course, social media.

Don’t ignore social media

Social media is here to stay. Businesses are gradually beginning to advertise more and more vacancies via these channels, and some will only use their Twitter or LinkedIn profiles to find candidates.

Whether you’re a Facebook freak or terrified of Twitter, the chances are you could miss out on valuable opportunities if you’re not making the most of your social networks. Get involved with relevant industry groups, share links which are interesting to your prospects and cultivate conversations: the chances are you’ll be glad you did.

LinkedIn is great for making business links, especially since previous clients and colleagues can endorse your skills, write recommendations and generally act as one big list of references. Twitter is useful as a way of searching for key terms – try searching for your job role and see what comes up – and since users tend to post more updates than those on other channels, it could be that this is the best place to find a role online.

Searchability

It’s not just about finding your clients. You should also be paving the way for them to come to you. Apart from being visible and well connected through your strong social media profiles, keep updating your CV and profile on jobs websites.

You might also consider contacting a small number of reputable recruitment agencies who will contact you when they have any relevant assignments. It’s best practice to stay in touch with recruiters and foster good relationships throughout your career – but don’t email them too often, or you’ll run the risk of looking desperate. Umbrella providers often work with recruiters to help contractors find their next assignment too.

How Brookson can help…

As part of our All-Inclusive Services we’re here to do everything we can to make the lives of self-employed professionals easier – and that includes helping you find your next assignment.

Brookson Limited company customers and Umbrella employees will also have access to our Agency Directory, within your members area Connect, where you’ll have access to an extensive list of recruitment agencies we know and trust, filtered by sector, so you can find the right recruiter to put you in touch with the perfect assignment.

You can also benefit from our job search, powered by TotalJobs, which offers easy access to filter and refine assignments across a wide range of industries and sectors to find the right opportunity tailored to your individual circumstances.

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