The boom in work for professional contractors is not breaking news. The sustained growth of the trend, however, and where it’s growing, is what I find more interesting.

Contracting has long since polished off its ‘between-jobs’ tarnish, establishing itself as a first preference for tens of thousands of senior professionals in Australia. Naturally, as this expanding sector of the employment market matures, so to do the expectations from both clients and candidates.

Contracting success in today’s market cannot be solely about the money.

Just as with the full time market, contracting has increasingly become about purpose, for both clients and candidates.

The why

A buoyant economy, especially in NSW and Vic, means organisations are investing back into their businesses. This is driving contracting demand.

For many organisations seed funding around tech innovation has quickly shifted off the wish list and onto the downright-competitive-necessity list. Neither is it the sole domain of tech or financial services – although as the vanguard of contracting, projects in these established areas are still where we find the best talent. But property, government and privately owned organisations are following suit.

Everyone is capitalising on the opportunities the increase in seed funding allows.

More CaPex expenditure is being green lit. Change and Transformation and project-driven expenditures are typically enabled by consumer behaviour and advances in technology. The abundance of which is yet another signal of organisational growth and a prosperous economy.

There is also more work outside of the traditional peak periods for contracting work; Black Friday and Cyber Monday are good examples for retail. There’s also an increase in startups with their 24/7 approach has added to the demand.

The where

The financial sector is riding its seventh wave of Change and Transformation. The contractors within these fields need to be outstanding at what they do to justify their impressive rates – which, overwhelmingly, they are

It’s the growth in the property sector that interests me most. Sydney and Melbourne’s property markets have sizzled from red to white hot, accompanied by an industry-wide shift from a previous focus on revenue towards an (overdue) focus on investment. Largely motivated by their need to keep pace with client demands (things like smart buildings), they’re rising up on their first wave of Change and Transformation – and catching up fast.

There is a lot of opportunity here.

The contracting world is a well-connected, tight-knit community. Word of mouth recommendations have served well, however the depth and breadth of expertise available can be missed. The sector’s growth has brought with it a growth in professional recruiters who, if they understand your needs and your company’s culture, can locate and attract the right individual.

Whether they’re in another city, an entirely different country or across the road, we are fortunate to be in an era where you don’t have to depend on word of mouth. The right person can be found, quickly.

Contractors – Positioning for future benefits

A client I was speaking to recently said he’s not interested in contractors who are only in it for the money. I’m also hearing clients express their desire to work with professionals who are all about the greenfield projects, who are passionate about the program they’re working on, who are in it for the new-product learning experience… and for what they can offer to the project and the people they’re working with.

So, my basic advice to anyone considering a professional contracting career is, firstly, do it! It’s a super-rewarding area. But, be very mindful of your client’s expectations and the outcomes for customers.

Contracting clients will hold out for a candidate with substance, aligned to shared purpose.

Your competition in contracting are established contractors with a broad diversity of experience, often offshore, among a variety of organisations, who are genuinely passionate about their work. That is today’s standard.

If you have the skills and the desire to be competitive in this maturing market, your strongest hand is the right attitude.

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