8 mistakes that could be costing you clients – and how to avoid them

It’s great being able to pick and choose your clients and the projects you work on. But the nature of contracting means you might face some tricky situations from time to time, involving both recruiters and your clients.

So, we’ve pulled together a list of the top eight mistakes that could be costing you work, both when you’re looking for a contract and when you’re working one.

From simple oversights to more long-term errors, take a look at our list to make sure you know what to avoid.

1. Applying ‘creative’ magic to your CV

We’re sure that everyone has been guilty of embellishing their CV at some stage – whether it’s exaggerating proficiency in a particular skill, or boosting responsibilities in a dull role.

But recent research from careers site Adzuna revealed that 37 per cent of candidates have outright lied on their CV during their career.

If you’re tempted to beef up your CV, keep in mind that both recruiters and potential clients are carrying out increasingly rigorous background checks.

These checks can catch you out even on simple things like dressing up your job title, which can be enough to get you turned away.

And with your CV out there in different forms – online, offline, LinkedIn – you need to keep everything up-to-date and make sure it matches. Otherwise, you might have some embarrassing explaining to do.

2. Sending generic job applications

Sending generic CVs and applications saves you time, but keep in mind that clients often fill contracting jobs within days. They’re going to go for the people with exactly the right skills for the job at hand.

Be selective about the roles to go for – seek out the ones that match your skills and experience, then target your CV to the vacancy.

A top tip is to have a document filled with all your skills and experience. Then, depending on the vacancy, you can pull the relevant ones into your CV.

3. Being unprepared for an interview

As you’ll know, contractor interviews are a different kettle of fish than interviews for permanent roles. They can often feel like sales pitches – so you should have your pitch prepared.

Research is also vital. While knowing your CV and skills is paramount, it’s best to know as much as you can about your potential client.

Find out all about your interviewers, because this will help with understanding the level to pitch at. Explaining technical ins-and-outs to someone just as experienced as you isn’t going to win you any points.

4. Being too picky about the jobs you work on

It’s absolutely right to be discerning about who you work for and the projects you work on. But being too discerning could be costing you valuable work.

Perfect roles are rare – there are almost always compromises on things like skillset, industry, rate, and location.

The nature of being a contractor means that you experience both fast-paced and slower periods of work. Passing up an opportunity that starts today because you have to compromise in one area could cost you in the long run.

5. Not having the right insurance

Clients usually ask you to have professional indemnity insurance, as they might hesitate to hire you – or, they’ll refuse to hire you full stop.

Mistakes can happen, no matter how much experience you have. Not to mention that laptops and other expensive equipment can be lost, damaged or stolen, so you may want to consider business equipment insurance as well. Being without the right tools can delay projects if they’re not replaced quickly, which may both annoy current clients and cause long-term reputational damage.

6. Looking for other work mid-contract

If you’re working a secure contract but want to know what else is out there, it can be tempting to check in with multiple market specialists and post your CV on job boards.

Don’t forget that your client and your recruitment agency have large networks. It’s not difficult for word of what you’re doing to get back to them.

Before putting the feelers out there, consider your client’s or agent’s reaction when they see your fully updated CV in their inbox.

To test the market, have a confidential talk with your agent first. Tell them that you just what to see what the market looks like in general, and you want to know how in-demand your skills and experience are at the moment.

7. Playing hardball when work is manic

Your client is happy with your work – great news. And, because there’s so much work to do, they want to extend your contract.

It’s good that you’re in demand, but this isn’t necessarily the time to be renegotiating terms. With so much going on, your client may feel like they’re being squeezed. And when the time comes to extend your contract once more, they might decide to go with someone else.

Showing loyalty and professionalism puts you in greater stead for the long run, among both clients and agents.

8. Finally – not thinking about the future enough

As a contractor, your skills and experience are important – but so is your reputation. By taking the long-term view and showing loyalty, professionalism, and perseverance in everything you do, you’ll become known as someone who gets things done.

Surely every contractor wants to be the first person that clients (and agents) think of when they want a job done properly. Providing maximum service with minimum fuss can help you become known as that person.

This is how contractors and freelancers get to command the best rates – and find work without even looking at job boards.

Do you have any more tips for contractors and freelancers? Let us know in the comments below.

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