The summer season has passed, and the children have headed back to school.
For children, it can be an exciting time of year as they wonder who their teacher will be, whether they’ll know anyone in their classroom, and ponder what new topics they will learn throughout the year.
That same excitement can also be felt by those starting a new job.
What will their manager be like, will they get along with their coworkers, and what compelling new projects will they get to work on and learn from?!
For those starting full-time jobs, there’s usually a lengthy onboarding process involved to get them accustomed to their new work environment.
For those in contract roles, however, that timeline is sped up by necessity.
Most contracts are written in either 3, 6, or 12-month increments (though many are extended). This means the consultant is expected to come in and hit the ground running.
Below, we offer advice on how to make a strong initial impact when starting a new contracting opportunity.
How to Hit the Ground Running as a Consultant
Get the First Day Right
The same holds true for your first day on the job. Here’s how to get it right:
- Show up on time, on the right day, and at the right location
- Wear the appropriate attire
- Know who your contact people are (these can be different than the people who interviewed/hired you)
- Confirm if you’ll be given a work laptop or expected to bring your own
- Verify expectations
- Learn when and how to properly submit your timesheet
Make it a point to get to know your coworkers, and especially team members, personally. Introduce yourself and, if you’re working onsite, try to spend some time with them over lunch.
If you’re working from home, try to schedule some short one-on-one video calls.
It can be hard work, but the effort made to integrate yourself into your new team can make all the difference when the client decides whether to extend your contract.
Ask the Right Questions
Strong emotional intelligence (EQ) or “soft skills” enable professionals to better understand, motivate, and direct people. This leads to more focused, productive, and happier teams.
When working with clients, managers, or team members, ask questions that’ll open up the communication channels and help all involved make better use of their time.
Questions such as, “What challenges are you facing?” and “Where do you need the most help?” can be effective.
Demonstrating and developing a reputation for having strong EQ will help you stand out from other contractors/consultants.
Keep Detailed Records
When starting a new contract, you will undoubtedly be bombarded with a load of new information.
A good rule of thumb is to document everything.
Make note of people’s names, where you met them, and their role in the company. Document the company’s business processes and the different templates used to report on them. If it helps, create an organizational flow chart to help you better understand the chain of command.
Keeping detailed notes of such information will help with problem-solving and aid in more assured decision making.
 When I worked for PSCI as a Technical Recruiter, I hired a consultant for a role that was written as a 6-month contract. 14 years later, they are still in that same role today.