In Pictures: 15 tips for surviving - and thriving - as an IT contractor

Pundits are calling 2014 the year of the IT contractor. Here are 15 tips for setting up shop and making it stick.

A steady flow of give and take Rachel Appel, a New York City-based software engineer who has spent much of her career as an independent contractor, believes in the old business adage: It's not what you know, it's who you know. So she has learned to work her network effectively, letting colleagues know when she has contracts coming to an end so she can line up the next job without skipping a beat.

She helps out colleagues in similar situations, too. "We'll ping each other and say, 'Hey, do you have anything?'" When Appel left a long-term stint last year, a colleague connected her with a three-month contract. This January, when Appel's client needed more people on a project, she hooked that same colleague up with work.

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