In this session, I will discuss how you can find opportunities to extend your current contract or work for another team. I have been able to do this four times within 2 years, and so I’m realising there is a pattern at play here.
This becomes important because it gives you a chance at continuing an income stream and not be left with “What if” when you are out of contract.
Quite simply, people do not do this because they do not demonstrate value, or they do not speak up!
With that in mind, let’s get started!
The VOA Method
As aforementioned I have been able to extend my contract, or move around in an organisation a number of times. To me, it really boils down to these 3 things which I will be discussing in this session:
- Demonstrate value
- Ask & Offer
- Accept an offer
Hence, the name, the “VOA Method” (Value, Offer, Accept)!
So with that said, let’s get started!
Value is contingent upon what you do, and how you are perceived. This can be broken down as the specific results you provide aligned to the desired or expected outcomes, and the experiences, expertise, qualifications, interactions and personal brand that you exude.
We all know that first impressions really count, and so it is contingent upon you to make sure you create a good first impression as soon as possible. To review this concept you can watch my video on this highlighting the key steps in doing this: Your first 30 days are crucial!
However, here are some initial things you can do in order to generate the value from the get go:
Create an action log and follow up on tasks ASAP.
This is powerful because it allows you to hold yourself accountable. It also allows you to potentially complete things quicker. Most individuals grossly overestimate or underestimate how much time it will take to do something. This is typically related to a lack of experience, or the fact that it has not been recorded, and misses the opportunity of being interrogated. When you write down your actions as soon as they arrive, act on them and follow up on them – you’ll be seen as competent and autonomous.
Be social with others and try to understand them on a personal level, while also showing your professionalism. Basically, be proactive in scheduling meetings. Allow yourself to be open and not closed, leading with the important information i.e.
- Work history
- Roles and responsibilities
- Team and department
- Personal brand/business related endeavours (optional)
Following this, you want to learn what they know, what is their current reality, and how they would like the future to be. You’ll be picking up things centred around history, challenges, past successes, politics and many more.
This is essentially a rough GAP analysis that helps you identify very quickly what to focus on, and what to ignore.
Lead the pack with your knowledge and expertise.
You also want to find ways to naturally lead or present on things. This could be insights discovered, methodologies that need to be embedded, or strategies that need to be developed. This is the prime time to ensure your brand identity is on point i.e. what they think of you is matched or even superseded by your delivery. Be seen as someone who knows what they are doing.
Know the Policies.
Here is one secret to keep in mind; most people do not read. They rely on communications, videos or other people to tell them about things. Read up on policies, specifications and other forms of info like data, to really get ahead of the game. This will naturally put you in a position that most people are not.
Always be willing to help and support, but not at the detriment of your mental health. Some people want you to sell your soul. Make sure that this never happens. This is ensured via creating strong boundaries and saying from the get go what you expect, and clarifying what they expect.
Maintain an authentic brand online and offline.
It is important to stay true to your values and be mindful of how you present yourself in the professional environment without losing your authenticity.
Being authentic allows people to connect to you on a human level, and is routed in your sense of identity, self-esteem, and experiences.
When you follow these things initially and carry them throughout your contract, you are inevitably going to create value. You will naturally become likeable and people will align you to a person of excellence both in character, and delivery.
Ask & Offer.
As time goes by, you will have become familiar with your programme, the climate and your team. It goes without saying that all contracts come to an end, and like with anything, it’s best to prepare for this. Assuming you like the culture and would like to stay on, it would be sensible to make a move on this notion.
Near the end of your contract (1½ to 1 month away), thank your hiring manager or business manager for the opportunity to work with the team. Ask them if there are any possible extensions available, as you would very much like to continue to contribute to the programme of works. This needs to be said with humility, and understanding that this may not be a possibility.
If your direct team does not have any available opportunities, don’t hesitate to ask them to refer you to anyone else who might need a contractor on their team. This is a good strategy, which I have used twice and served me well in at least two of my contracts.
Remember, if you have provided value, these hiring managers will always give you a sterling recommendation (trust in the people to do their bit).
If you haven’t received a response or a clear answer, contact your hiring manager again and inquire if there is anyone who requires a contractor. Do this until you get a definition response.
There are no hard feelings if you do not get an offer this way, this is just one of many ways you could find a contract.
Accept an offer.
Regardless of what your hiring manager comes back with, you should be looking for contracts either way. If luck is on your side, you may be contacted by your hiring manager’s contact to say they may want to bring you on board. This would be great news, and they may want an informal interview/chat with you.
Remember to do the following:
- Read up on any material they may send you.
- Speak confidently about what you have recently delivered.
- The problem you helped solved.
- How you helped solve it.
- What you’re happy to do.
- Agree things like day-rate, start and end dates, and job description.
- Make sure a contract is confirmed/signed and get ready to start!
And that’s it; it’s as simple as that!
The key takeaways are:
- Demonstrate value through portraying your experience, expertise and connection with people. Let them feel your authentic personal brand online and offline.
- Ask for, and offer your services either to your current client or to one they may refer you to.
- Accept an offer by ensuring that you display how you created value in your last contract, what you are willing to do, and agreeing the contractual terms of your likely contract.
When reading this, it doesn’t seem too hard – but it is contingent upon you performing well from the get go. Likeability and delivery are the two most important things that will enable this to work well.
Trust in your ability to provide value, and create an opportunity for you to be extended or rotated around the organisation. Again, only do this if you like the culture, or are in desperate need to maintain your finances.
If you want I can help you in the following 3 ways:
- The Life Navigation System: A comprehensive guide on how to manage your life, helping you set goals, set routines and journal like a boss! Comes with a complete walkthrough video and Notion template!
- Secure the Job: The step-by-step course that unveils systems, strategies and success when it comes to progressing your job and applying for new roles
- The Independent Consultant UK: A guide to becoming a contractor in the UK. This is a step-by-step walkthrough of my experiences, hosting exclusive information to help you transition into the space of contracting.
- Book a call: Let’s have a chat to focus on your life areas and where you can have the biggest impact. If it makes sense, we can progress towards procuring coaching or mentoring.