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Finding and securing a contract when you arrive in the UK

Contractors who have successfully navigated the process of securing their visa under the Commonwealth UK ancestry route and have arrived in the UK are now in the position of being able to start the next key stage of their UK contracting career – finding and securing a contract.

Being based in the UK and already having a visa that allows the contractor to legally live and work in the UK places them in a much stronger position when talking to agents and clients about potential contracts.

Even if the contractor is planning to work in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa and has already found a sponsor and secured their contract before arrival in the UK, this article provides invaluable advice and links to other key articles on this website that can assist in successfully securing their next and subsequent UK contracts.

Preparation and research

A key element of successfully finding and securing a contract is the preparation and research the contractor undertakes. The important fact that a contractor must remember is that they are on their own – no-one is going to do this for them.

Preparation and research requires the contractor to:

The research and preparation is not a ‘one-off’ task – it is an ongoing process until a contract has been signed and the contractor has started the contract. Even then, there are ongoing actions, such as networking, that contractors must do to ensure they are always in a contract when they want to be.

Finding UK contracts

The main sources for target contracts for an expat contractor new to UK contracting will be via advertisements:

  • On job boards
  • On other websites, such as agency and contractor/freelancer sites
  • In the trade media, both online and print (eg trade magazines).

In addition, some expat contractors may have extensive personal contact networks, perhaps via the fellow alumni of UK or other academic institutions they have attended – these can be very promising sources of contracts.

The research process should have identified to the contractor the most promising job boards, other websites and trade media that will carry contract advertisements for their sector and skill set.

Once suitable contracts have been identified, then the contractor must systematically target and apply for each one to ensure they secure a contract that meets their criteria and allows them to start earning as soon as possible.

Using the CV to secure an interview

Probably the most challenging and important element of the process is securing the contract at interview. In this stage the contractor has to use first their targeted ‘killer CV’ and then the full range of sales, marketing and negotiating skills to win a lucrative high paying contract. This important aspect of winning UK contracts is outlined in the Contractors’ Handbook.

Once suitable contracts have been identified, then the contractor must systematically target and apply for each one to ensure they secure a contract that meets their criteria and allows them to start earning as soon as possible

Having identified the contract(s) they wish to apply for, the contractor should:

The CV and follow-up phone call, which are frequently phone interviews, should be used to gain the contractor a face-to-face interview with the end-user client who is recruiting the contractors for the role.

Successful interviews secure contracts

Once an interview has been secured, the contractor will have an opportunity to win the contract by applying their personal sales and interview skills. This is probably the most important stage of the entire process of finding and securing a contract.

A contractor may be the best engineer or IT developer in their field, and may also be able to write (or pay someone else to write) stunning CVs, but if they lack the skills to pass the interview stage with the client, then they will never be a successful contractor.

Expat contractors should remember that preparation for interviewing for a contract position in the UK might be different to what they are used to. Most UK agents and clients are accepting of cultural differences and make allowances for them, because their focus is on the skills the contractor can bring to the role.

However, expat contracts should remember that it is likely that they will be competing for the contract against experienced UK contractors who will know all the skills and tricks of interview techniques, so they should not lose out through lack of preparation.

Updated: 05 March 2012

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