Have you dreamed of splitting your time between the rat race and an island resort? Calling your own shots? Earning considerably more for every hour you work? It could be time to start contracting.
Demand for contractors is higher than ever, with 1.91 million freelance people contributing £109 billion to the British economy. So how do you up and leave the comfort of your 9-5 job to join them? Here’s how…
1. Nail your niche
Businesses will be prepared to pay more for contractors with specialist skills, and they’ll pay even more for the best in the trade. Research your industry, find out which of your skills are most in demand, and then hone them.
2. Decide how much you need to earn
Do your research to find out what others with your skills charge per hour. Remember, contractors have to cover all their own overheads, as well as insurance and tax. Also, you’ll only be paid for the work you do, so make sure you factor unpaid holidays and sick leave into your annual earnings.
3. Understand your tax implications
There are lots of tricks to making sure you pay the lowest possible rate and off-set as many of your costs as possible. The iContract team recommends hiring an accountant, at least until you figure out how to do it yourself. See our financial matters guide for more advice.
4. Set yourself up with the right tools
Leaving your full-time job means handing over your phone, laptop, desktop, access to the photocopier and scanner. Some contract roles will supply you a computer, but you’ll most likely need to sort out your own and check it’s all working before you begin contracting.
5. Write a CV
Your CV sets the first impression, so it should be to-the-point and visually appealing. You should take 15-20 minutes to tailor your CV to each role you apply for. When you apply for roles through iContract, you can pull a CV together from your personal profile, so keep this up-to-date to save you time.
6. Update your social media profile
Many employers will check out your social media accounts before deciding to hire you, so make sure there isn’t anything on the internet that could tarnish your reputation.
Update your LinkedIn profile with keywords such as “contractor” so the right recruiters can find you through their searches. Regularly update your iContract profile and check in with recruiters on which roles they have going.
Have you got a website or a blog where you can express your opinion and help recruiters and employers to get to know you and your work? Read more about using iContract and other social networks to find work by checking out our contractor resources.
7. Start Networking
Attend events to mingle with contractors and recruiters face-to-face. Remember to take a stack of business cards with you!
8. Reach out to former contacts
Every one of your former business contacts should know that you are now an independent contractor for hire. Previous employers are often a contractor’s bread and butter, particularly if they need to keep on to maintain continuity in their client relationships.
9. Stay current
Continue to hone your knowledge by factoring in time every week to read up on industry news and trends. Make the most of time between projects to upskill through short courses and work towards industry-recognised qualifications. Read more in our Contracting 101 guide.
10. Develop good habits
In an office, there is collective pressure to work efficiently. When you’re working remotely, as many contractors do, it’s easier to develop bad habits that end up prolonging your workday. A healthy contractor is going to produce better work, so establish a routine that factors in proper meals, regular exercise and plenty of sleep. Read more in our guide to making the most of the contracting lifestyle.
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