Like the rest of the UK workforce, contractors are living through unprecedented times. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic impact on all aspects of daily life, for businesses, employees and the self-employed.

Although the 1.77 million contractors in the UK may be facing uncertainty at this time, there is a silver lining.

Whether contractors have been forced to stop working altogether due to coronavirus, or are continuing to work from home, UK-wide quarantine means that everyone has a little more time at home, giving every contractor the perfect opportunity to work on future-proofing and developing their careers.

In this article, Umbrella Broker offer our top tips on how every contractor can make the most of their time in lockdown to build and develop their contracting careers for long-term success.

Utilise LinkedIn 

Whilst we can’t get out and about, what better time for contractors to utilise LinkedIn to build their online portfolio, expand their connections and network online during a time when physical networking is unfeasible.

As the world’s largest professional networking site, LinkedIn has 610 million members. What’s more, 13 million companies have a LinkedIn page and 77% of recruiters utilise the platform, making it a fruitful place for contractors to be.

To help develop their careers whilst stuck at home, every contractor should work on driving improvements to their LinkedIn page and usage. This can be done by:

  • Creating a killer profile: there are several ways contractors can optimise their LinkedIn profile. From using a professional headshot, stating that you are a contractor and outlining current availability, including a succinct summary of your job role, top skills, expertise and how you have achieved results in the past, listing your previous work experience and gaining endorsements for your skills. Contractors should aim to show potential clients what they have achieved for clients in the past and what they can bring to the table.
  • Networking: it goes without saying, a vast, targeted network on LinkedIn improves any contractor’s chances of forging new connections, being exposed to potential clients and hearing about new opportunities. To build your network, reach out and connect with other users – this can be all it takes to generate a new lead and in turn your next opportunity. Connect with old colleagues and clients as well as searching for new connections in your sector. Users can refine their searches by location, mutual connections, company and industry, making it easy to find relevant contacts and expand your network.
  • Being an active member: 36% of LinkedIn users rely on the platform for latest industry news, meaning it’s important to be an active member who shares relevant, interesting content that will resonate with your audience. Being an active member increases the chances you will appear in other users’ feeds as well as increasing your searchability which is great for exposure.
  • Utilising LinkedIn’s Contractor targeting feature: this handy feature allows contractors to privately notify recruiters that they are open to being contacted regarding new opportunities without broadcasting it to the world. This makes it easy for recruiters and clients to seek out contractors for potential opportunities.

Improve your contractor skill set

Another great way to utilise your time in isolation is to gain new niche skills in your industry, giving you a competitive edge for future work.

What’s more, with vast and varied online resources, it’s never been easier to gain a new skill from the comfort of your home.

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Umbrella Broker suggests checking out the following resources:

  • Upskill: focussing on the tech industry, Upskill allows workers to sharpen their skills sets in their chosen niche.
  • Udemy: whatever your industry, Udemy offers over 100,000 online training courses that can be learnt at your own pace.
  • Future Learn: gain access to online courses, programs and degrees created by the world’s leading universities, business schools and organisations on Future Learn.
  • EdX: there are over 16 million users participating in edX’s online classes backed by Harvard, MIT and other prestigious institutions from around the globe.

Become an expert in your field 

Having upskilled and gained competitive expertise, a great way to let clients, recruiters and connections know about your unrivalled skills, and how they could benefit from them, is to show off your expertise.

Again, this has never been easier to do, with a wide range of online platforms and forums geared towards online discussion:

  • LinkedIn Groups: 98% of LinkedIn users utilise Groups, a space where users can ask questions, seek further information, discuss news and latest industry development. By answering questions, sparking discussions and sharing latest news, contractors can position themselves as experts in their fields, making this clear to recruiters and clients who frequent these Groups.
  • Facebook Groups: as well as being the world’s most popular social media channel, Facebook also has a whopping 70 million business profiles, meaning it isn’t just a personal platform. A great way for contractors to utilise the platform to show off their expertise is to join industry specific Facebook Groups. Similar to LinkedIn Groups, this is a place where contractors can show the community what they’re made of. With clients and recruiters searching Facebook Groups for potential candidates regularly, this might well result in a new lead or opportunity.
  • LanceBase: an online forum specifically geared towards contractors and freelancers, this is a great place for contractors to showcase their talent by participating in discussions, answering questions and posting news.

Consider your contracting options

In the current climate, many contractors will be weighing up their options and considering their next steps.

Following this turbulent period, many contractors will be thinking about the best route going forward, whether that’s through an umbrella company or PAYE. The best option for contractors who wish to receive the benefits of self-employment with the advantages of being an employee will be to operate under an umbrella company.

For these contractors, Umbrella Broker can help find the perfect umbrella company for them, with our handy umbrella comparison tool which allows contractors to compare companies based on a range of factors and the contractor’s preferences.

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