Be the contractor who employers can’t wait to return from maternity leave

We show you how to stay at the forefront of your client’s mind during your maternity leave

One of the concerns women in contracting have when planning a family is how their maternity leave will affect their overall career progression, regardless of how long they decide to take off. Concerns can include wondering if it’ll be much harder to get back in the swing of things when returning to work, whether savings will see you through the months you’re not working, and if you’ll be an attractive candidate after taking time out from the rat race.

 

Whilst taking maternity leave will not affect your employability, there are some things you can do to ensure you remain at the forefront of your client’s minds during this time.

 

In this blog we look at what you can do to bridge the gap between bump, baby and beyond!

 

Swap being physically present for virtually connected

In this day and age you don’t have to be stood in front of your client for them to notice you. In fact, you could be taking your maternity leave whilst travelling the globe and still remain closer than ever to your clients.

 

Here’s a few tricks you can try to achieve virtual connection:

 

  • Read news that’s specific to your client’s industry as well as yours as a Limited Company contractor. Let your clients know of any changes that might affect them and keep a dialogue open to discuss how topics can develop. Your interest in their industry will keep you fresh in their mind and show how much you care about what’s affecting them.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and professional website up to date. Don’t be afraid to let people know how long you’ll be out of contracting for and therefore when you’ll be back. Join groups of interest on LinkedIn and conversations where you’re able to showcase your industry knowledge. Just because you’re not currently contracting, it does not mean you don’t know your stuff.
  • Keep in contact with past clients and colleagues. Ask them about upcoming projects and how your skill set and experience could help them, then have work lined up for when you’re ready to return.

 

Network with like-minded mums

For highly skilled contractors, taking time out from work can either be a welcomed break or a professional nightmare. Fear of stepping off the train to success, only to try and get back on and find someone has taken your seat, can be a daunting and often frightening concept for some.

 

Finding a group of like-minded mums can not only ease your concerns, but can also banish any maternity blues or isolation you may be feeling. It will also grow your group of contacts and could lead onto future contracts.

 

Fill any knowledge gaps

Whilst your number one priority when on maternity will of course be on your new arrival (or arrivals!), there will be times when you’ll have some time to yourself. So why not use it to update your skills, or to take a look and see what skills are currently in demand?

 

Not only will you keep your mind sharp, you’ll hit the ground running when you’re ready to return to work, as you’ll have the skills clients are looking for.

 

Use your time to work on you

Everyone has their own strengths and interests which make them unique, and sometimes it’s those individual quirks which make us stand out to a particular employer. Why not use your maternity leave to explore a few hobbies or interests that you’ve always wanted to do?

 

For example, photography can show a client you’re disciplined and have an eye for detail, whilst volunteering can demonstrate your passion to improve a situation without the need for financial gain. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing that can be your escape for when you’re not busy being mum.

 

The contracting world is waiting for you – when you’re ready to return

We hope that this blog has given you some inspiration on ways in which to progress your career when you’re taking time off to be a new mum, and given you the confidence to ensure future clients will be waiting for you when you’re ready to return. After all, a career in contracting should work for you, rather than the other way round.

 

Have you previously been on maternity leave and have a tip that’s helped you get back into your working groove? Share it with us on twitter using @IntouchAcc, we’d love to hear your experiences.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Contractor essentials: 10 tips to promoting brand You

Promoting brand You

Whether you’re just starting out in contracting or have been doing it a while, when you run your own Limited Company you’re responsible for securing your next contract. Self-promotion isn’t a comfortable thing for many people. For others, it’s time consuming or just a bit of a pain! Either way, unless your skills are so niche and in demand that you are highly sought after, it’s something you’re going having to have to do so you can avoid unplanned time between contracts as much as possible.

Check out these 10 tips to see what you could be doing better…or get started on today!

 

1. Networking tools

Business contacts are an essential part of you securing new business. Rather than viewing people as competitors see them as a potential support network. Remember if you create a good relationship with them, they may just turn out to be a referral source for new work and contracts. They may be overloaded and see you as an ally. View everyone as a potential resource and tap in.

 

2. Networking events and business cards

Sometimes the thought of networking events can be a drag, but really they are an opportunity to make new contacts, find support and a source of referral work. Check out what networking events are happening in your area as well as through any professional bodies you belong to. It may seem daunting but remember everyone is in the same boat and looking to connect. A friendly face really goes a long way, and what’s more, people will remember you if you give them a warm reception. Your business cards are a useful tool at networking events to ensure that if people remember your face, they know immediately how to get in touch, especially if you then connect online…

 

3. Networking online

LinkedIn is the main online networking portal for businesses. As a contractor it really is worth joining. Ideally dedicate some time every day to checking your account and news feed. Take time to build a list of relevant and engaged contacts. Although it may take a little while, your name and profile will become visible to new people, and the truth is you never know, your skills and persona could provide the solution to a specific problem they are looking to solve. You can also use it as a hub to discuss issues with other contractors in the same line of business as you.

 

4. Technology tools

Going it alone means being organised! Keeping track of your invoices and communications is really important for maintaining a professional image – maximise your use of business software and apps designed to help you. Make it a priority to know what is available for business.

 

5. Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily whilst you are out and about. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a business filing backup option for important documents and client work. Check out our blog for more tips and apps for working on the move.

 

6. Time tracking and invoicing

Most contractors and freelancers charge an hourly or daily rate. It is important for you to accurately track your time to produce a relevant invoice for your client giving evidence of the time you have spent on a project. Time tracking software and apps such as Toggl allow you to easily track your day – actually down to the second. This allows you to save essential time on unnecessary paperwork and helps you to maintain a professional image.

 

7. Productivity

Gone are the days of guesswork, with a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store is a gold mine. It may well hold the key to the project management problem that you have been searching for. Take the time to ask around or play with your phone apps in your downtime.

 

8. Professional tools ­ industry bodies and resources

If you do want to take a more hands on approach, there are numerous professional resources available for contractors and freelancers, providing information on everything from setting up your business, to tax and IR35 legislation. A specialist contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you.

 

9. Self-motivation

In order to be a successful contractor you do need to have a healthy internal resource of self-motivation. Make sure you are up to date with the latest trends in your sector. If you are bang on trend and have the right qualifications, you can charge more and also win more contracts. The HMRC website also provides a useful no frills resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. You can find out information on how to set up a Limited Company and more. At Intouch we specialise in helping contractors at every stage of their career and can help you from the moment you even start thinking about moving into contracting.

 

10. Your trusted accountant

They are likely to be your main professional adviser so keep in contact with them to ensure you’re getting the most out of contracting. Contact Intouch Accounting today to chat through your circumstances and discuss joining us.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.