So you want to make the leap to the ‘dark side’ and become an IT contractor!
Here’s the thoughts of Jonathan Medd who recently made that leap.
Respect to him for giving a little love back to the virtualisation & cloud community!
Comments, opinions most welcome!
Neil – MillsHill – http://www.millshill.co.uk – 01803 321233
First Time Contractor Experience
Contracting was something I’d had at the back of my mind for a few years and when my permanent employment took a significant turn for the worse over the course of a number of months I decided it was time to give it a shot. Now four months in I’m glad I made the leap, however it’s completely different from permanent employment so here are a few tips from my own experience:
- Most importantly, do your research prior to making a decision as big as this and ensure you know what you are getting into.
- Talk to other contractors and find out the positive and more importantly the negative aspects of contracting.
- Check out existing contracts on job boards to give yourself an idea of your market rate and the availability of contracts in the area (both technology and geographic) that ideally you wish to work in. If possible, talk to some agents and see how they rate you as a potential contractor – some will be more helpful than others! (*hint* *hint* Mr Mills *cough* *cough*)
- Consider whether to setup your own company or choose an umbrella organisation. In either case, research different accountants or umbrella organisations and find costs on the services you will need. Again, recommendations from other contractors are good here, since not all accountants are geared up for the specific needs of contractors.
- If possible, have your company setup and VAT registered in good time before you’ve accepted your first contract so there are no delays in getting started.
- If possible, have some cash reserves to cover the time it might take to find your first contract and also allow for any time it takes before the agency / direct contract starts paying you after you have started the contract.
- I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get into credit card debt; however you can be smart and take out a 0% on purchases card while still in your permanent employment. This may help you get through some of your initial contracting start-up costs if you don’t have significant cash reserves (insurance, laptop, travel etc..) , but only if you pay it all off quickly when your contracting money starts to come through.
- Leverage traditional and social networking to increase your network, discover unadvertised positions and promote the skills you have to offer. User groups, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging are your friends here.
- Consider joining the Professional Contractors Group (http://www.pcg.org.uk). They can offer you assistance in getting started and also have packages with insurance cover for tax investigation, jury service, agency failure etc…
- Get a copy of The Contractors Handbook (http://www.contractorshandbook.co.uk/). Most of the above and more are covered and will give you a good feel for whether you will like contracting or not.
And if it turns out after a few months that you don’t like it or an excellent permanent opportunity comes along one day, there’s nothing to say you can’t go back to permanent employment and given the flexibility of contractingit’s probably easier to swap back the other way given you’ll likely be on a shorter notice period.