Working as a contractor gives you a great deal of power over your own workload, allowing you to take on the assignments that appeal to you the most.
But once a contract that you've loved working on has finished, how should you go about finding your next exciting opportunity?
1. Client referrals
If you're lucky, the client that you've just been working with might want to offer you another assignment, or they might recommend you to another business that they're linked with, meaning you don't need to spend too much time searching for a new contract.
As a result, you can invest more time in carrying out the assignment to the highest possible standard. If you impress, you'll only build an even stronger relationship with the client, which could see them sending more work your way in the future.
However, please bear in mind that if you do receive a new contract from either the same client or a business they are linked with, which would see you working on the same site for more than 24 months, you will no longer be able to claim tax relief on your allowable business expenses.
2. Jobs boards
If you don't have something else lined up straight away when your contract ends, the first place you should head is to an online jobs boards. You'll find a list of online recruitment agencies, but it's worth bearing in mind that not all specialise in contractor or freelancer positions.
These sites generally require you to make a profile with a photo and a few details about yourself and your experience and you may also be asked to upload a CV along with your contact details. Make sure your CV has been proofread and that any details you provide in your 'about me' section make you sound professional.
To boost your chances of success on freelancer sites, use keywords in your profile wherever possible. For example, if you're looking for freelance writing work, detail that you can help to optimise content for SEO, or if you're a graphic designer, list the design programmes that you're experienced with.
3. Recruitment agencies
After spotting your profile on a jobs board, different recruitment agencies might get in touch with you. You can also contact these companies directly if you don't want to go through a jobs board, to see if they have any vacancies that might be suitable for you.
A recruitment agency is essentially a link between you and the organisation that is looking for a new worker. The recruiter will be responsible for tasks such as letting you know where and when the interview is and they may even be the party that lets you know if you've won the contract afterwards.
When working with a recruiter, treat them like you would one of your clients; be as professional as possible at all times and always get back to them quickly if they send you an email or you miss one of their calls, as this will show that you're keen to impress.
It's a good idea to build up a relationship with several different recruitment agencies, as you'll require their help regularly if you often switch between short-term contracts, so it's important not to put all your eggs in one basket.
Creating a profile on LinkedIn can also help, as you can specify on your LinkedIn profile if you're looking for work. Therefore, if you have a professional-looking profile that lists your skills and experience and features endorsements from people who you've worked with in the past, this should encourage recruiters or other interested companies to get in touch with you.
5. Think outside the box
If you're struggling to find work in your usual sector despite having tried all of the tactics listed above, it could be worth considering what transferable skills you have.
For instance, if you're a software programmer who usually works in the IT sector, you may have some skills coveted by the engineering industry. Or perhaps you've got years of experience of working in construction and could offer your skills to oil and gas decommissioning projects.
Dipping your toes into different industries will only increase the level of experience you have of working in various fields, potentially making you more attractive to future clients.
Another option could be to offer your expertise on a consultancy basis to others in your industry or to contractors who are just starting out. Some businesses may also be interested in taking you on as a consultant for the short term in order to educate their staff in a particular area so they can carry out certain jobs for themselves.
Keep an eye out for potential gaps in the market and never be afraid to put yourself forwards. Even if you're not successful, you will have shown initiative and made new professional contacts that could work in your favour in the future.