As a contractor (consultant who works on a contract to contract basis as opposed to being an employee of a firm) you will have regular phone calls with firms that place contractors on projects.
When you initially talk with a representative from these firms, it will be because you both think you may be a good fit for a project they have. After some initial conversations, you think the position sounds good and they think you have a good background so you both decide they should present you to their client. Most of the time you are mainly evaluating the position they have and whether or not it is a good fit.
But, are you asking anything to determine if they are a contracting firm you want to be associated with? If you do good work, you will be enhancing the reputation of the firm that is putting you on the engagement. When you help a firm enhance their reputation, you are helping them with securing future business. If this is the case, don’t you want to make sure that you are helping a firm that is going to look out for you in the future as well? When you do work today, you are getting paid today. But, if thought out, you can make sure the work you do today will also go towards helping you secure future contracts, thus getting you paid tomorrow as well. This is sometimes what makes the difference between people who are in contracting for only a year or two and those that have a healthy 5 – 10 year contracting career.
If you have an option to work on a contract with Company A and another contract with Company B, all things being equal (although they never are) does it make sense to take the contract through the company that has a higher likelihood of providing you work down the road? Isn’t this worth some consideration?
Why would you want to work a contract through an organization and help them expand their market share if you knew there was not a high likelihood they would turn to you first for a new project down the road? You would do this only when you did not have other options and you needed a job. But, when you have options you should consider variables that will impact your ability to get future contracts.
This comes in three forms:
- Does the firm you are considering specialize in identifying engagements within your area of expertise?
- Does the firm you are considering work with contractors regularly or do they have their own salaried employees? Salaried employees will most likely always be their first priority when staffing future engagements.
- Does the firm you are considering work to find their contractors a new engagement after the current engagement comes to an end? If they do, you may find yourself starting from scratch to find your next project.