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Skills you need to succeed as a Technical Contractor

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a technical contractor or you’ve already taken the plunge and want to grow your career, there are certain skills you can’t afford to be without.

For many businesses, technical contractors are a crucial part of their success. Contractors and/or Consultancies provide access to essential skills, often technical, relating to specific short-term needs or projects, allowing companies to accomplish more than is possible with just their core team.

This allows technical contractors to have uniquely positioned careers. They can generally focus on technical and/or specific skills and duties that they find genuinely engaging, enabling them to do more of what they enjoy and less of what they don’t. This often includes overseeing the development and deployment of a specific project, usually supporting a team, utilising core technical skills.

If you want to shine as a technical contractor, you need more than technical prowess. Certain soft skills are also vital, ensuring you’re as effective in the role as possible. If you want to make sure that you have the right soft skills to excel as a technical contractor, here are eight suggestions you might need to cultivate.

  1. Business acumen

    Firstly, you’ll need to evaluate the market and assess if your skills are in demand. Businesses typically use contractors to fill short-term skill gaps, so you will be expected to hit the ground running – with a specific set of technical skills to match the requirements.

    Before leaping into contracting or providing consultancy services, take some time to make sure that there is a demand for your specific skill set. Search job boards and recruitment websites in your sector and talk to specialist recruitment partners to get an idea of market conditions. If there are lots of permanent vacancies available for a certain role that your core competencies cover you can often assume contract and/or consultancy opportunities will also be prevalent.

    You should also look at popular blogs and websites to understand the trends in your market. Will your skills be relevant in a couple of years’ time or are there other skills you will need to pick up to make sure you stay ahead of the technological curve? Continual investment in training is critical to being a successful contractor and/or consultancy.

  2. The ability to adapt to change

    If you don’t like change, being a technical contractor may be the wrong career for you. No two days are likely to be the same, so you will need to be able to adapt confidently to different environments, organisational structures, company cultures and hit the ground running.

  3. Excellent people and communication skills 

    You’ll be responsible for marketing yourself as a technical contractor, so your networking and communication skills in both written and verbal contexts will need to be excellent. Set aside time for important conversations with clients, recruitment partners, learn to engage with all the different types of people you will meet, tidy up your CV and interview skills and you’ll be rewarded with repeat business and a good reputation.

  4. Problem solving

    Your clients will expect you to be a fast and effective problem-solver. If you’re naturally solution-oriented, contracting could be a great fit for you

  5. Initiative

    You’ll be in control of your business career, so you’ll need to be comfortable taking the reins. To stay competitive, take charge of your professional development and keep up to date with news, training, and certification in your field.

  6. Self-motivation

    Technical contractors are often asked to self-regulate and stay productive with little-to-no guidance or management especially when working outside IR35 regulations. That’s where self-motivation comes in handy! If you have the drive and the focus to excel and complete a project on time without someone stepping in and telling you what to do and when to do it, you will be a more effective technical professional and a much better contractor.

  7. Organisation

    Technical contractors are often asked to meet tight deadlines. The more organised you are, the easier it will be for you to effectively manage your time, meet deadlines, and deliver results.

    It is also likely you will have to do your own administration. You will need to learn about different business structures (limited company, umbrella, etc.), invoicing, payroll, tax, payments, and most importantly, excellent time management.

  8. Confidence in uncertain times

For a contractor, freedom comes with uncertainty, the ebbs and flows of the economic climate, you will not have guaranteed work, and your income will/could fluctuate. You will need the confidence to stay positive in times of financial uncertainty. Every contractor has quiet times.

Look at your expenses. What funds do you need to live on for 6 months without a contract? Find a reputable contractor accountant to manage the business finances and keep your backup funds separate. It relieves any unnecessary pressure and equips you for unpredictable circumstances which may arise.

So, if you decide to take the plunge as a technical contractor you will soon have the benefits of being your own boss – deciding what work you take on, when you work and when you take time off whilst focusing on the work you enjoy.

With 30 years of experience in knowledge-led recruitment, Redline is well positioned to offer advice about future-proofing your contracting career. If you want to be kept informed about the latest contracting job opportunities, register your details below and create job alerts.

For more information regarding how we can help your business, please contact Redline Group on 01582 450054 or email



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