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10 tips for UK contracting - the ultimate first time contractor guide

The prospect of leaving permanent employment to go contracting in the UK can be quite daunting. But don't worry, there is plenty of support on this website to help guide you successfully towards a long term contracting career.

Your concerns can be quickly alleviated by reading about how to get started in contracting and also by understanding what to expect when you go contracting.

There are many reasons why permanent employees go contracting, ranging from financial reasons to having a more flexible lifestyle.

And if you are worried, here's the top 7 worries that soon-to-be contractors have, and how you can overcome them.

If you are thinking of becoming a contractor in the UK then here are 10 facts and tips to get you started, together with some links to further information:

10 ultimate tips for going contracting

1. Your skills are good enough

First timers often ask themselves “Am I good enough to go contracting?”. The answer is yes, there are contracts for everyone of every skill level. Not all contractors are expert gurus in their field. The demand for contractors is driven by the needs of a flexible labour force, not by the need for gurus.

2. The work will be varied and enjoyable

It is a common contracting myth that contractors get the tedious work to do. Contracting work is as varied and interesting as permanent work.

3. Will should be able to get work

The contractors who get the contracts are the best at knowing how to get the contracts, and not necessarily the best for the contracts. You will need to learn how to find a contract and get very good at it.

4. Learn some sales techniques and stay ahead

Don’t underestimate the importance of a professional sales approach when going contracting. This will minimise gaps between contracts, ensure you negotiate the best rates, and keep you ahead of the rest of the pack in periods of low market demand.

5. Write a high impact targeted CV

A well targeted high impact CV is essential to get you noticed by agents. Make sure you target your CV directly to each contract application.

6. Learn great interview techniques

This links in with sales. You are now the product. By preparing for interviews and avoiding the common interview mistakes you will increase your chances of passing an interview and securing a contract.

7. Know your rate and learn how to negotiate

Rates are driven entirely by market demand and are either hourly or daily. If you use agents to find contracts, which is advantageous, then your rate will depend on how good you are at negotiating. You should ensure you determine your own market rate before entering the market.

8. Choose the best payment structure

You can either use an umbrella company or start your own limited company. Both are quick and easy to do, and you don’t need to do this until you have signed your first contract.

9. Understand the IR35 tax, and stay outside it

To maximise your revenues you will need to deal with some tax legislation known as IR35 and get your contracts reviewed by a professional lawyer.

10. Plan for time off and manage your client

Taking time off for holidays when contracting is similar to when you are in permanent employment, except that you can take as many days as you like for as long as you like! Good planning will ensure there is no contracting downtime surrounding your holiday periods.

Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2016

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