What contractors share with tots when it comes to career advice

As an experienced or just worldly contractor, you might think you’ve heard it all. But no, a new report this month for charity Founders4Schools by researchers LKMCo says that careers education should start as early as just two-years-old!

So two-year-olds -- those playful, delightful (at times) toddlers who clamber about and crash into things. Before I tackle the report, writes Matt Craven, founder of the CV & Interview Advisors, to help you avoid childlike blunders as a contractor, join my ContractorUK webinar on Tuesday April 23rd, ‘The Ten Biggest Mistakes Contractors Make.’

Unlocking career success from the UK's low-key guidance

Now you’re outrage at tots getting a headstart in the rat race has subsided a little, let me point out that I think the gist of the report is to encourage the broadening of children’s horizons, and make them aware of the opportunities available much later in life at a very early stage. Not a bad idea actually.

I’m guessing that Founders4Schools wanted the report because they had an inkling that primary school children are not being given sufficient careers guidance. But from what I see increasingly, it’s not just kids who are left to figure out the world of work for themselves.

Be it pre or post-education, careers guidance is typically low-key and as we progress through our careers, often non-existent.

Come to think of it, what kind of ‘career’ guidance do contractors get today? Before you write in aghast at my choice of word, contractors do still have a ‘career.’ It’s just that it’s within the context of running their own business. It’s a different scenario to those who have chosen the 9-to-5, but nevertheless, what a contractor does every day is still the thing that pays the mortgage. And puts food on the table for those magical (or maddening!) tots!

For these two or three-year-olds, letter-play or the ‘ABC’ song to learn the alphabet is par for the course. And just as they have their ‘ABCs’ as a formula to learn, contractors have ‘DABSUN’ as a formula to develop. Granted, ‘DABSUN’ doesn’t quite have the same ring as ‘ABCs.’ But similar to tots trying to talk our language, DABSUN helps contractors with what they often struggle with – working on their business, as opposed to working in their business -- which they naturally excel at. In this sense, DABSUN provides any freelancer with the vital building blocks for a successful contractor business. It’s outlined below.

D-A-B-S-U-N

‘D’ is for ‘Defining’ your proposition: what are you, what are you good at and how does this benefit your clients. What is your value proposition, your ‘angle’, your USP?

‘A’ is for ‘Assets.’ This focuses on your self-marketing collateral, including your CV, Exec Bio, LinkedIn profile, social media presence and website. It also relates to technology, which could include a CRM system, email marketing system and possibly some marketing automation tools. Contractors should be utilising these assets, rather than simply sending a home-made CV to a recruiter-advertised job online.

‘B’ is for ‘Building.’ Any thriving business will know the importance of building an audience / prospect database. Well, being a contractor is no different. Even if this is just your LinkedIn network, the more people you know, the more opportunities are likely to come your way.

‘S’ is for ‘Selling.’ Being able to sell yourself and what your business offers is crucial. Obviously for contractors, being able to perform in interviews is part of this. But what about networking; creating compelling messages on LinkedIn; negotiating rates / contract extensions? We could on Tuesday’s webinar go into detail around the ultimate selling tool -- Thought Leadership, and how this can further support your industry and market status.

‘U’ is for ‘Upselling.’ Before you cringe, consider that ‘Upselling’ could simply involve networking during a contract to find other opportunities. There are lots of other ways to leverage your knowledge and expertise to generate income which I can outline in Tuesday’s webinar. Selling information products or setting up a support network are popular among contractors.

‘N’ is ‘Nurturing.’ Just the sort of space any contractor (or tot for that matter) needs to have to thrive! So, assuming your bib-wearing days are behind you, this is really about developing long-term relationships to sustain your business success. As a quick test to see if you’re playing your nurturing part well enough, ask yourself if you connect with decision-makers, key stakeholders and peers during each assignment. And similarly, do you also make a point of keeping in touch every so often with these parties, post-contract?

Before you perfect the formula for yourself, ask me about it on the 23rd

My DABSUN formula isn’t the only memorable routine that I know which contractors need to know for business success. To discover the detailed steps I endorse to back up every element of this tried and tested system (these steps, too, are as vital as knowing your ABCs!) you have three options. Get in touch with me directly; let me incorporate DABSUN’s tenets into your CV as part of my one-to-one review of your CV/LinkedIn profile, or register for the webinar where you and others can listen in and ask your own queries. It’s on the 23rd at 7.15pm and is free for ContractorUK readers.

Wednesday 10th Apr 2019