Contractors' Questions: Will this digital job help land me an IT contract?
Contractor’s Question: At present, I’m not a contractor, although it's my long term goal to be a senior front-end contractor. I'm currently a senior front-end developer for a digital agency, and I've got the opportunity to become Head of Development.
I can't decide whether this job title would be an advantage or disadvantage on my CV in terms of to my goal of eventually being hired as a front-end contractor. Would it just look like I'm a glorified middle manager of developers? Would it stand me in worst stead at interview versus someone who is a developer?
Expert’s Answer: Having placed many senior contractors in my career, I can safely say that taking such a role can be nothing other than a positive step, and as a result will only add value to your CV.
Put simply, it’s an experience that you can learn from. And that can only be a good thing. You will learn as Head of Development what makes a good contractor, and what makes a bad contractor. You will learn what pressures a manager has to contend with, and what challenges they have to overcome. You will learn from ‘the other side of the fence’ what a hiring manager really looks for in a contractor. And as a result, you will stand out from the crowd at interview, and be more likely to secure an extension over potentially less empathetic contractors.
Taking such a role would also re-affirm in your mind whether contracting is right for you, or whether senior management as an employee is your preferred career route. This is surely something that will stand you in good stead when at an interview should your motives ever be questioned. Imagine how reaffirming it would be for you to state to a prospective end-user: “I’ve been a Hiring Manager, and experienced many invaluable challenges, but know in my heart of heart’s - it’s not for me.”
I can think of many excellent senior contractors who have worked their way up to management positions, and then moved into contracting when they felt the time was right. None of them described it as a disadvantage, and they were very often extended multiple times.
The only other advice I would offer is that if you are already a senior front-end developer, then maybe you should be considering moving into contracting now. Bearing in mind the current high demand for contractors with your skill-set, you could consider ‘taking the plunge’ sooner rather than later.
The expert was Alexander Tattum, Contract Manager at Computer Futures.