As a contractor (a consultant who works on a contract-to-contract basis, as opposed to an employee of a firm), you will engage in regular phone calls with firms that place people such as yourself on projects.
Initially, you'll be speaking with a firm's representative, because both of you think you may be a good fit for one of their projects. After further conversations, you might think the position sounds good, they might think you have the right background, and so you both decide that they should present you to their client. Most of the time, you are primarily evaluating the position they have and whether or not it is a good fit.
But are you asking them questions to determine if they are a contracting firm with which you want to be associated? 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 to secure future business.
If this is the case, don’t you want to make sure that you are helping a firm that is going to help you in the future as well? When you do work today, you are getting paid today. But you can make sure the work you do today will also go towards helping you secure future contracts, thus ensuring that you’re paid tomorrow as well. Frequently, this is what makes the difference between people who spend a year or two in contracting and those who have a healthy five- to ten-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), doesn’t 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 that they would turn to you first for a new project down the road? You would do this only if you had no other options and you needed a job. But when you have options, you should consider all variables that will impact your ability to acquire future contracts.
This consideration comes in three forms:
Does the firm you are contemplating specialize in identifying engagements within your area of expertise?
Does the firm work regularly with contractors 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 work to find their contractors new engagements only after their current engagements come to an end? If so, you may find yourself starting from scratch when seeking your next project.
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