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Finding Work as a "Senior" Contractor

We often meet with some very qualified people who find themselves challenged in finding work, regardless of their extensive and impressive experience.  These senior professionals are highly skilled, but are out of work for a number of reasons, including layoffs due to company downsizing, the effect of disruptive technologies or just accepting a retirement package from a long term employer.

When speaking with this group, we highly recommend they look into contracting. After all, senior professionals with extensive knowledge make fantastic consultants! If you’re part of this demographic and just getting into contract consulting, here are 5 tips to help you get started:

Senior Professional
  1. Looking for work today requires a mind-shift with a different way of looking at the world. Just because you were a developer for twenty years does not mean that your next job needs to be in that role.

  2. A good resume is valuable, but if you are flexible with your skills, that’s even better. Customize several different resumes dependent upon the opportunity to which you are applying.

  3. NETWORK — or get back in touch with your network! With so much work experience, you’ve probably met hundreds of people.  Find them and re-build relationships with them.  If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, start there.

  4. You need to park your ego. The goal of the exercise is to get a contract, hopefully with a company that can offer you a challenge. If the title isn’t there, or the rate is less than you want, you should still take it.  Remember, contracts are not permanent. You can aim for a more preferable one next time or negotiate a rate increase with your contract extension.

  5. The staffing industry is a great way to get a contract. The ACSESS (Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services) website lists all of their members by region and specialization. Some staffing companies have divisions carved out specifically to capture the talent that older workers (read experienced, mature and stable) bring to the workforce, including Eagle who just a few years ago launched the Executive & Management Consulting Division. There is also many such associations worldwide that will offer similar information.

Are you a senior professional looking for work?  Have you considered contracting?  Or are you a senior contractor?  If so, do you have any other tips for somebody looking to make the change?