How to give yourself a promotion as a 1099

If you work as a W2 employee, one of the ways companies motivate you is to give you a promotion. They give you a pay bump (hopefully) and a title change. I know in the consulting world it goes something like analyst -> consultant -> senior consultant -> engagement manager -> etc.

As a solo 1099, you're in sort of a weird spot. You may be senior and experienced, but you don't manage anyone. You have a particular set of skills, but it doesn't come with a title per se.

But, the joys of being a solo 1099 is that you can choose to give yourself a promotion!

There are a few elements to a promotion:

  1. An increase in pay
  2. An change in responsibilities to something more senior or impactful
  3. A title change

A pay increase is just a matter of upping your billable rate or finding a project with higher rates.

But changing your responsibilities is a little trickier. You need to find a gig that either has you doing more complex "technical" work, a role that has you managing people, or a role that puts you into a more advisory position. This can be done by carefully screening any opportunities that you drum up.

Ask the program manager what the position entails. Will you work directly with a senior executive? Or will you just be a worker bee on a large team? Then pick one that moves you up the value chain.

For a title change, you can really call yourself what you want, and this is mostly important for marketing purposes. On my resume, I have "principal business intelligence consultant" as my job title. This is good for getting senior level worker bee type roles.

However, I'm getting bored of that so now I'm considering changing the narrative to something like "Senior Analytics Advisor" or "Senior Analytics SME."

This will probably reduce the amount of inbound interest I get, but the primes that are interested will probably consider me for more advisory/senior positions.

The reason you should think about giving yourself a promotion as a 1099 is because you will eventually get bored. While you don't have to keep doubling down on your 1099 career to escape boredom per se, it's a relatively big factor in terms of your overall happiness.

For example, if you could get a promotion that pays 75% more, could you work less? Could you move to a more expensive neighborhood that you like?

If you were doing more interesting work, would you stop dreading the drive to the client site?

Corporate, W2 type of career planning is mostly a joke, the stuff of Dilbert cartoons. But, as a solo 1099, it's very real and something worth taking seriously.

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