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Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Fergal1982, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    As a result of recent events, :dry, I've been considering the possibility of going contracting. Part of it is curiosity, and part is recommendation from a few people I work with and respect that they think I should.

    I've never really thought of myself as skilled enough to be a contractor, but then I think I confuse contractor with consultant in my mind.

    I've just picked up the Contractor's Handbook by Dave Chaplin. Only read a few pages so far in the intro, but it definately seems pretty good already. I'll provide more of a review once I'm finished it.

    I know the market isnt great for contracting right now, but I figure if I work out if I want to do it or not, and look at the things I need to do/consider, then by the time the market picks up again, I'll be ready.

    Does anyone have any good advice about contracting?
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  2. Waria Ahmed

    Waria Ahmed Byte Poster

    What kind of job are you looking to contract into?
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  3. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

    I have been contracting since 1998, you're either suited to it or you're not.

    Things to consider when you're a contractor.

    You are liable for your own returns, salary, company\personal insurance, expenses, Corporation Taxes, training, sickness and basically everything else that a company provides for it's employees. Depending on your potential earnings you have to decide whether to go for a limited or PAYE scheme, you have to get an accountant and you have to have a business bank account.

    Things to consider when contracting are things like.. starting a position (1 month, 3, 6 etc) only for it to be terminated the next day, payment terms from the agency, I have had it on occasion where they would pay within a week, on other contracts it's within 30 days.

    As a contractor you are the bottom of the food chain, you are expected to be the dogs body, to be the one covering the crappy holiday periods (xmas\new year) and also the one who get's it in the neck if something goes wrong.

    I know guys who tried contracting and it wasn't for them, they didn't like the uncertainty that contracting brings. They didn't like the undeterminable periods between positions (and I don't care how good you are, there will be occasions where you are out of work). They had no 'career' progression, contracting is not a career, it won't push you up the corporate ladder.

    On the other hand, for me contracting offers me choice, I don't tend to stay in a position for longer than 12-18 months (on occasion it's been close to 21 but beyond 24 months you start getting into trouble with IR35 and the Tax Man). It gives me a decent salary (when I am earning, I am out of work again although something lined up for the next couple of weeks). The other thing it gives me is the grief of working 10 - 14 hour days and the fact that there are times where I may not interact with my son for a few days simply because he is asleep when I get home and potentially when I leave to go back to work the following day.

    I have been glad that I have been a contractor, it's given me a great life style (nice car, decent house, good holidays) but it also gives me uncertainty of when my next pay check comes in, in the last 8 months I have worked a total of 3 months, with an expensive mortgage and associated bills to pay any savings soon get eaten up. Luckily enough with the type of money I can earn these days it's not too much of an issue, however with the kind of rates I was earning 10 years ago I would definitely have struggled had I been out of work as long as I have recently.

    Would I suggest it these days? Probably not actually, there are so many things going against contractors now days, it's actually probably better being a perm and just moving every two years, at least that way you get a career, a definite pay check at the end of the month, courses and sickpay (oh and holiday pay, remember you pay twice as a contractor, you pay for the holiday and for the loss of earnings).

    I would think long and hard about this if I were you.
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  4. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    Echo most of this. I've done both over the course of my career and, tbh, whilst the money when contracting is nice, the lack of 'permanency' really got to me after a while. I now do what Simon has suggested, and stick around for 18 months/2 years before moving on. That being said, I've been where I am now for over two years and am very happy (probably because I'm top of the tree, technically speaking, and don't have any ambition to move on to CIO/Director level).

    I too would think hard about it. The glory days of contracting are over - lots of my mates are now going perm simply because of the fact they aren't earning as much (or as frequently) as they used to. Of course, there's no such thing as job security in IT, and I think development is a lot more contract-based than systems... but still - tread carefully!
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  5. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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  6. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

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  7. Bri1981

    Bri1981 Byte Poster

    I've never contracted in the UK but in Belgium it seems fine. I moved over 3 years back from a perm job and it was straightforward, I went through an umbrella who sorted all my tax stuff out. First role was for around 18 months in a company where externals were treated great and by no means the bottom of the food chain, before everything went tits up with the crisis there were lots of contractors within the company.
    Thought my first role may have been a fluke but my current one is the same, been here 18 months so far, loads of freedom providing the job gets done, no discrimination for being external, no downside at all so far.
    Have mates in Germany, Holland, Switzerland who all say the same about their contracts as well.
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  8. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

    Is there not a concern that this could be misconstrued as job hopping? and if so, how do you explain at the interview stage why you are not sticking around for longer (and then persuade them to take you on KNOWING you don't stick around for long)
  9. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    Well the way I see is that you are selling your skill set to provide a particular service for a fixed amount of time. So when the contract ends it's either renewed or it isn't...if the latter then one would look for another contract.

    Jumping from permie role to permie role is a different story and can be seen 'job hopping'. But as a contractor, the company contracts out to your company to provide the service. Hence why contractors operate as a limited company or under an umbrella company.

    If a contractor got sick of contracting he/she would simply state on their CV their position in their Ltd company - normally a 'director' of some sort - and then would state the services provided for that particular time and who they were provided to.

    Bear in mind that as a contractor you are the employee of your own company...not the company(s) that purchase your services.
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  10. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    Thanks for the advice so far guys. The market is still looking a bit poor up in Aberdeen at the moment, and I wouldnt necessarily want to contract away from home for the first couple of contracts. Time will tell, but its definately time to start dusting the CV off and updating it I think.
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  11. Boycie
    Honorary Member

    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

    best of luck with it mate. :thumbleft
    Certifications: MCSA 2003, MCDST, A+, N+, CTT+, MCT
  12. matt645

    matt645 Bit Poster

    I've been contracting for 7 years and I really can't understand why anyone would want to do it now? I would have been way better off as a perm for the past 3 years considering the amount of 'bench' time I've had.

    Unfortunately I'm now tarred with the contractor brush so finding a permanent job is near impossible.

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