First things first, let me explain briefly about being freelance in my line of work. In the middle ages some knights did not pledge their fealty to a Lord; effectively they were mercenaries with a ‘free lance’ to hire. Fast forward to the C21st, and the booming freelance sector, that is, self-employed contractors.
However, I am not mercenary (not entirely driven by money, honest), but I do tote my skills and the tools of my trade around to paying clients. Although every engagement (battle!) is different, Contract Business Analysts are normally employed on a temporary basis to meet some short-term demand, such as:
- Working on a specific project or programme of work.
- Providing some interim cover, maybe a transitional role or to back-fill while a permanent member of staff is recruited or trained (similar to locum work in teaching and general medical practice).
- Providing some specialist Consultancy-type service.
We all remember starting a new school, the first days comes with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, looking forward to making new friends and having new experiences, but also the fear of not knowing anyone and not fitting-in. Starting a new job can be like this as well, but imagine a new project or a contract every 3 or 6 months and being the new kid at school for your whole working life!
Here are some tips for a freelancer’s first day at school, I mean work!
- Get on top of all the admin stuff. There may or not be a new starter checklist or formal induction process but the quicker you find where the stationery cupboard and the kitchen are, and get emailing and printing, the better.
- Linked to (1), get to know the person with the key to the stationery cupboard – literally and metaphorically. Find the people that can make your life easier and more productive as quickly as possible, say ‘hello’ to them.
- No organisation chart? That’s nonsense, all your new colleagues are in teams, official or otherwise, they report-to and work-for others, and know things and people that will be useful. Seek and collate this information, but be careful because titles matter to people.
- From day-1 and the first conversations, try to think and talk as a member of the team, ‘us’ rather than ‘them’. A new employer does not want to hear how great it was in your last job.
- Every organisation has its jargon and ‘domain knowledge’, start to find out and interpret the coded messages, don’t be afraid to ask what that TLA (Three Letter Acronym) means. See my previous post about esoterica.
- Start briskly, be friendly and efficient, be a more outgoing version of yourself (especially of you are an introvert by nature). You know the thing about first impressions, well its mostly true.
- There can be a subtle and not-so-subtle ante-contractor feeling. So follow these principles, do you job as well as possible, and don’t make unnecessary waves. Remember, it’s not about you.
- Try to understand the culture of the organisation; the clothing, banter, break times, working hours, and 101 other tacit things that aren’t written down but can make fitting-in much much easier.
- Ask questions, ask questions (don’t be too annoying), ask questions.
- Try to enjoy yourself, pace yourself, as you may have to carry on applying these first-day principles and guidelines for the whole of the contract!
As always thank you for your feedback and comments here or sign-up for the email newsletter to get more posts like this.
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.