Dear Contractor Doctor,
I'm currently in a permanent job that is neither fully satisfying nor
monetarily appropriate to my skills and experience level. I am thinking of
going contracting but, with a lack of savings and no experience in the
contracting market, I'm worried about how I can afford to hand my notice in
without the promise of a job in the near future.
Any thoughts on this?
Contractor Doctor says:
This is the common Catch-22 situation for most permanent employees thinking of
going contracting. You are certainly not alone.
As I explained in my previous article ‘Should I Quit My Job Before Applying for
Contracts?’ you will need to hand in your notice before searching for a
You could however test the market whilst you are still permanent and see if you
get any interest. Agents will phone you to ask your availability and then
subsequently rule you out due to you still being permanently employed. However,
if you get some phone calls it will give you the confidence that you won’t
necessarily be left on the shelf if you make the plunge. Prolonged testing in
this manner is not advisable though – agents will remember you. If you do
finally hand in your notice make sure you contact each agent you have
previously spoken to and let them know your circumstances have changed.
With regard to the financial situation, the switch from permanent to
contracting can actually work in your favour. Some contracts are paid weekly.
This means you may not have to survive a whole month on your last pay cheque
before getting paid. So you could find yourself with up to 3 weeks extra money
in your pocket! Even if you are paid monthly, payment is typically within a
week of getting your timesheet signed. Some agencies will give you an advance.
If your skill set is high in demand and you market yourself well and chase down
the opportunities well then you should be able to get yourself sorted out with
a contract within 4 weeks.
You might also find the following article useful should you decide to take the
plunge: Starting Contracting - Steps to Becoming a Contractor.