When we look back at all the reasons contractors have created a bad reputation for themselves, one common theme sticks out across the stories -- a negative attitude. We all have bad days but there are some IT professionals we meet who are plagued with a negative attitude that hinders their relationships with not just recruiters, but clients too. In fact, there are situations when clients have asked us never to present an individual to them again because their demeanour was too sour.
Examples of negative contractors stand out through the entire job search and contracting process. Some destroy their first impressions with rude interactions when a recruiter first reaches out. Rude behaviour like immediately demanding "What's the rate?", swearing or hanging up mid-conversation are all behaviours that almost guarantee you will not be hearing from that recruiter again, no matter how much of a fit you are for the next role. You might argue that intrusive phone calls from random recruiters in the middle of the day warrants a harsh response, but there are certainly more polite ways to handle the human being on the other end of the phone.
Then there are the times a negative attitude suddenly appears from the qualified IT contractor who we're working with to submit to a client. These individuals were amazing in the initial screening but transition into a monster. They refuse advice, telling us their resume is "good enough" and when they get in front of the client for an interview, they immediately start bashing previous clients and sometimes even the potential client! Then, when the inevitable decline comes in, they throw the blame back on the recruiter, claiming they were badly prepared or misinformed about the opportunity.
And finally, the most common example of negative attitudes that hinder a contractor's career come when they're at the client site. It's usually something that doesn't come out immediately, but then the client informs us that the individual is intolerable. The negative person takes a hostile approach to dealing with confrontation or has a "my way or the highway" frame of mind. In other words, customer service on the contractor's part is clearly lacking. Do any of these examples sound like you? Have you noticed that people are calling you less and less for opportunities? It might be time to take control and bring a more positive approach to your work. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Recognize the negative attitudes you have and when they're most prevalent. This is the most difficult part of the process and requires some uncomfortable self-awareness.
Identify the cause. Are you unhappy in other parts of your life? Are you under pressure or frustrated and reacting with too much emotion?
Understand how negativity is affecting your career. Recognizing the bridges you've burned will give you motivation and goals to create a change.
Evaluate how you speak. You may think you're a positive person, but if you think back to conversations you've had throughout the day, your wording may have been perceived as miserable.
Force yourself to use positive speech and positive self-talk. Consciously adding more positive words and eliminating the negative words from your vocabulary will shift your way of thinking and your natural conversations.
Put yourself in positive situations. Indulge in more comedy, read more uplifting stories and, most importantly, surround yourself with positive people. You'll naturally pick up a different approach.
Take on a "Change" mentality instead of being a victim. Rather than get angry at a situation, ask questions to see how you can make it better.
All of us slip up here and there. Sometimes you're having a bad day and, frankly, sometimes you have to deal with ridiculous people who need to be put in their place. What will differentiate you as a negative or positive contractor is how you deal with each situation. Carefully thinking about your wording, recognizing when you mess up and apologizing, as well as understanding other people's bad days will all move you into a more favourable spot with both recruiters and clients.