…or if you’re not now you will need to be soon!

Our research into what factors will be taken into account by hiring managers for IR35 compliance has uncovered one big recurring theme…specialist roles are more likely to be categorised as outside IR35.

We have talked a lot about your ‘brand’ or your ‘USP’, but to really stand out from the crowd and fit the criteria for a specialist role you need to shout about what makes you special.

What would you consider yourself to really be a specialist in? Project Management? Business Analysis? Or Contracting itself?

According to the well-known rule, it takes the average person 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. 

What is the 10,000-hour rule?

The original idea of the 10,000-hour rule was that of Swedish psychologist, K. Anders Ericsson, written in a psychology paper back in 1993. In it, he claimed that if you give something 10,000 hours of dedicated practise, then you will sure enough become an expert in that field.

At Contractors Anonymous we have many internal debates about this theory but, whichever side of the fence you sit on, how you bring out your specialism in your CV is critical

Do you already consider yourself to be a specialist?

One way to look at this rule is from your ability to progress from role-to-role. As a contractor, you don’t have long to get on board and get started in your new role. So often, you’ll be joining an organisation during their time of need and will get thrown in at the deep end, where it’s very much sink or swim. In this case, you have a matter of days to get a good understanding of everything going on around you.

In contracting, the first 150 hours in a new role are the most vital. You need to use this time to take onboard as much as you possibly can. There will be a lot of new information to soak up; everything from people’s names and the location of the coffee, to learning the role that each individual plays in the team and exactly what the end goal of your contract is. You’ll be planning meetings, building strategies, solving problems and potentially restructuring teams, so gravitas, confidence and expertise is vital in each and all of these situations.

If you can easily take each new contract in your stride, hit the ground running and cracking straight on with the job that you’re there to do…and have done many times over a period of 5-6 years, you’ve probably spent 10,000 hours and earned your contractor specialism stripes.

If you don’t yet consider yourself to be a specialist

The other side to this argument is if you’re relatively new to contracting or if you take a look at your career as a whole, as opposed to just from role-to-role. In this case, you might feel like it will take you a significant amount of time and experience as a contractor in order to be able to call yourself an expert. After all, it’s not uncommon to be struck down by the dreaded Imposter Syndrome. The constant fear that you’re not good enough or experienced enough to do the job you do, so you start doubting why people will hire you. 

Whether you’re heading into your first ever contracting role, or maybe even your third or fourth,  you might feel an element of nervousness or apprehension going into it. This is perfectly normal, not all contracts are the same. But over time, the more roles that you take on, the more of an expert contractor you’re going to become, regardless of the role you’re stepping into.

10,000-hours = over 20 years of contracting

We can most definitely call Contractors Anonymous founder, Karen Frith, a specialist.  It’s for that reason she decided to launch Contractor Anonymous, to share her learnings and experience with new audiences, building a place of support and encouragement.

The Contractors Anonymous community is a fantastic way to help build your confidence and expand your knowledge and understanding of contracting life. Plus, with Karen’s vast expertise, she can give you one-on-one guidance and help you find the perfect fit contract to suit your lifestyle, location and experience.

You’ll be a specialist before you know it.