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Worth taking a poorly paid "contractor" role to get my foot in the door?

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Hilazing, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Hilazing

    Hilazing Bit Poster

    Hi Everyone.

    I've been trying to find myself my first IT job since passing my 70-680 earlier in the year.

    After many applications, and only 1 interview I have discovered there's not a lot of opportunities for someone with very limited experience without going for minimum wage (which I can't really afford, as a 32 year old with a mortgage)

    I currently earn around £20k (17.5 basic - potential 3k bonus which I hit most months) in a customer service role. This is a job, not a career. the opportunities to progress are very few and far between, which is why I have opted to try and switch to IT. I have always enjoyed computers - ever since making rude words flash on the BBC Micros at school!

    Anyway, back on topic. I got a call today from an agency suggesting they would like to put me forward for a role with a bank in a level 1 helpdesk role, but it is an initial 6 month contract, and I would need to either set up as a LTD company, or join an umbrella company.

    The wage is not high at all- £9.21/hr. Apparently this is for 35 paid hours a week, which I make to be just over £16k per year if I take no holidays (I assume there is no holiday pay as a contractor)

    I can probably just afford this pay cut, thanks to my wife having a reasonably good job, but there's always the risk of losing the job, or not getting renewed.

    So here is the question. Is it worth taking the above risk to get my foot in the door and get some experience? Say I get the job and do the full 6 months, surely finding a position would be easier with 6 months experience on my CV, but how long would it take me to get another position?

    Having read a little about umbrella companies, I see I can claim expenses and increase my take home a little bit, so this might help a little with the pay cut. Anyone with any experience in this got any advice?

    Certifications: MCTS 70-680
  2. Josiahb

    Josiahb Gigabyte Poster

    The choice is really down to your personal circumstances, I think the only advice I can give you is that the moment you start you need to assume you won't be renewed and be applying for new jobs. The fact you're in an IT role should make you more marketable for other roles.
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCDST, ACA – Mac Integration 10.10
  3. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    I wouldn't recommend anyone go contract for less than £25 an hour, my first contract was double that (and that was many years ago).

    You are better off being perm.

    Umbrellas and Ltd companies help you offset tax, at £16k you won't have much tax to offset, plus you will have to pay the extra costs associated with such arrangements.

    You can't assume full employment, you have to assume some 'bench time' and factor this into you rate. You will be out of contract, sick or on holiday at some point, like it or not, (some holiday is mandatory at many places.) The market is bad now in the UK, especially for unskilled people, assuming a very optimistic 40 weeks employment per annum means you will be on £12k pa which is minimum wage, and that is before you account for operating expenses which are generally higher as a contractor.

    Your tax bill is likely to be under £2k pa and you can only save a small percentage of it, and will have to pay accountancy costs of maybe £500+ pa meaning its likely to be a net loss versus perm.

    If you don't have enough savings to cover 3 months of living expenses or your wife can't cover 100% of the living expenses, then again I would not consider it.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  4. Hilazing

    Hilazing Bit Poster

    I get that it's not an ideal scenario, but I've ben trying to get someone to give me an opportunity now for 5 months, and I'm getting nowhere. Everyone wants experience, and I have no experience! Unless I want to go for a job earning 12-14k a year, I can't seem to get a permanent job.

    I was hoping to take this job, then see if I can get something permanent afterwards on the basis that I have 6 months experience, either that, or that this will turn into a permanent job (recruiter's email stated "The role is initially for 6 months but for appropriate candidates this will be extended and there will be opportunity to progress within the company").

    I think I'll ask them to put me forward for interview, and at least see if I get offered the job. Then I'll take it from there.

    Thanks for your help guys!
    Certifications: MCTS 70-680
  5. Cunningfox

    Cunningfox Byte Poster

    I agree with your approach there is no decision until they want to offer it to you. Then it's a tough one.
    Certifications: CCNP, CCNA, MCP
    WIP: ??
  6. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

    I would have to advise against going for a contracting role for the basic reason that you have a mortgage, if you didn't have any major outgoings then I would say go for it, what have you got to lose, but in this case you have a house to lose.

    Contracting isn't for everyone, I did it for over 10 years and loved most of that time (apart from the periods of time when I was out of work, running the risk of losing house and family due to no money) but it's not for every one, I know people who after mere weeks decided that contracting wasn't for them because there is no guaranteed income, no sick pay, no training allowance and on top of that you generally have to pay someone else to make sure your company is being run properly.

    Whilst the money can be very good in contracting the fact that you're coming in to this with literally no experience will basically mean that they can afford to drop your offered rates, the basic premise of a contractor is that they are someone who can hit the ground running, be left to their own devices and expected to know their 'stuff' and I am sorry to say that with no commercial experience you don't fit what peoples expectations are.

    Yes I know that you need to get some experience but at £9ph you would be better off staying in a perm role and looking for another perm role in IT because let me tell you that it's not pretty out there and it's especially not pretty with Xmas just 8 weeks away (you don't want to be looking for work then because you would be lucky to get something by April if you're out of work at the end of the year).

    What I can tell you is that after my 10 years in contracting I took a perm role on nearly 3 years ago, I sure as hell am not earning anywhere near the salary I was earning as a contractor (circa £450pd when I was contracting) but I took on the perm role for the job stability, holiday pay, sick pay and training allowances, it's the longest I have been in a perm role since I left the Army (back in 98) and still don't have itchy feet to move on (which I usually did after 18 months with each contract).

    Stick with looking for that first IT role because it will come along but please think hard about making that first role a contracting one.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
    jk2447 likes this.
  7. dales

    dales Terabyte Poster

    I agree with Simon on this one. Contracting is a risky game to play coupled with the fact you are looking for a first foot in the door job its not a game to be playing now.

    If you were in your early 20's and lived at home then yes I would say go for it, but with commitments its not worth the risk. Contracting is only really worth doing with a few years of IT already under your belt.

    Have you considered looking for jobs that includes shift work which should bump up the pay packet a bit, early in my career I found it quite good working shifts as I got to see my then 1 daughter at different times of the day and you soon get used to the pattern.

    The thing you've got to also think about is that you say at the moment you can just afford the pay cut , however I'm sure you've noticed things like food bills going up practically every month, a pound or two a week on a a few bills in 6 months time can make life extremely difficult financially and emotionally.

    Don't jump on the first IT based bandwagon that comes coming along I would wait for the perfect opportunity as you seem to have a stable (or at least as stable as it can be at the moment) job. Waiting 5 months for an IT job is not a lot of time compared to others and because you want to move into IT you should wait for the perfect start in your new career and this unfortunately does not sound like it.
    Certifications: vExpert 2014+2015+2016,VCP-DT,CCE-V, CCE-AD, CCP-AD, CCEE, CCAA XenApp, CCA Netscaler, XenApp 6.5, XenDesktop 5 & Xenserver 6,VCP3+5,VTSP,MCSA MCDST MCP A+ ITIL F
    WIP: Nothing

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