One of the main differences between contract placement and permanent placement is the speed of which the contract world moves.
The timeline for a hiring a permanent employee is usually somewhere between 6-8 weeks. During this time, many things occur. There are usually 1-2 phone interviews, 1-2 face-to-face interviews, a final interview where an offer is made, notice is given and a start date set. Because both parties are looking at this as a long-term situation, there is a longer process of getting to know one another to determine if this is the right fit.
In contracting, often times there is only one phone call and a decision is made. I usually speak to a new candidate one time and decide whether this is someone I would present to a client. Often times it is the same case with my clients, they will speak with the candidate one time and decide whether or not to bring them on for the term of the contract.
This can, of course, be a very positive thing. The entire hiring process can be completed within a couple of days rather than weeks or months. Contrary to a direct hire, a contract position is viewed by all parties as a temporary situation. If it is not going well for either party, the contract can be terminated at any time.
The speed of this process can also be a negative thing. A contractor often times has only one opportunity to make a good impression. A 30 minute phone call can affect whether or not they will be working for the next 6-12 months.
Below are 3 common mistakes made during this phone call.
Failure to sound professional
This can come in a couple different forms. First of all, the “environment” of the call. This is an interview and should be taken seriously. The call should not be taken while in a crowded mall or park with children. You should be in a quiet location with good service connection and an office environment feel. However you sound on the phone with the interviewer is how they imagine you will sound with their clients. Along the same lines, choose your language carefully. Using slang or getting too casual will give off an impression of unprofessionalism.
Failure to Prepare
Going in to an interview without any information about the organization or the project is a big, yet common mistake. Gather as much information as you can prior to the call. You don’t want to spend time asking questions that the answers can be found on a website or LinkedIn. Found out as much as you can about project so you are prepared to discuss how your background is relevant.
Failure to Sell Yourself
This phone call may last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and often times a decision is made afterwards regarding whether or not the contractor can do the work. The conversation needs to be focused on the skills relevant to the project they need assistance with. If you are not able to articulate that you can do the work, you have very little chance of being offered the contract. So, going back to #2, get as much information about the project prior to the call, so that you are able to prepare how you will focus on the skills you have that will benefit the client.
The first impression is a lasting one, and in the contract world often the only one you get, so take it seriously.
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