IT contracting - hows, whys, whens, gotchas etc....

I’ve been made redundant, and my last day is tomorrow. I’ve given myself a few weeks to get me through an LPIC-1 exam, and then I’d like to start working again.

Since I’ve moved back in with my parents to save money, I can afford the potential unreliability of contracting, and I’d like the experience of lots of different shorter-term contracts.

So how do I do it? Does one sign up with an umbrella company and just wait for the jobs to come in? Any recommendations of umbrella companies?

I’m looking for Unixy/Linuxy servery stuff, if that makes any difference.

Hit the agencies. I put my CV up on LinkedIn, jobserve and Monster and let the agencies find it. But you can fins loads online and submit your Cv to em all. put in the legwork.

IME IT contract agencies wont touch you self employed, they need to work with a Ltd company. PM me if you want more details.

You can either use an umbrella company. Or have your own ltd company and a good accountant who can do all the admin work for you for a price.

The market seems OKish at the moment from what I’m hearing…

You need good strong CV and be a good personal salesman. Most contracts want someone to start immediately. So best of luck.

You’re in a perfect position to start.

I’ve been doing this for years. PM me if you want detailed advice. However, key points:

  • Set yourself up with a Limited company

  • Get a good accountant who will do your company accounts and filing but keep the day to day records yourself using a good software package. You can get an accountant to do your day to day records but in my experience it’s better, safer and more cost efficient to do it yourself.

  • Get a damn good CV and tailor it to the jobs

  • Approach agencies as you would if you were looking for a permanent job. When you apply for a role call the agent and get them to not only speak to you but read your CV when you talk to them. If they won’t do it then and there call them back. They get hundreds of CVs for each role, make sure they know that they have to read yours and why.

  • NEVER burn any bridges. Even when you think you’ll never come into contact with those in question ever again. You’ll be surprised. I have been.

I started contracting for the first time, initially a 3mth contract, now 9 mths laters still here :slight_smile:

Umbrella companies are definitely less hassle, but cost you in the long run, as you have to pay both employers and employees National Insurance. But I chose this way as I did not know how long I was going to contract for, and needed something set up within 2 days :slight_smile:

I still get a few basic expenses (subsistence and travel and laptops), I dont have to bother with chasing invoices, I just fill in my time sheet and I get paid a few weeks later. Also for mortgage applications I have a PAYE pay slip, which helps :slight_smile:

The big agencies will have recommended Umbrella partners, I just joined one of them.

Not much to add to the above, apart from don’t be picky on your first contract. It’ll be a lot easier to get a contract once you’re in one and can proove that a company have wanted to renew your contract at least once.

Be prepared to make loads of phonecalls, do loads of sweet talking to recruitement agents, people you may not like etc etc, and remember, once you’re in a contract, you don’t have to deal with the annoying agents for a while, so don’t judge the potential job on the agent. But once you have a job, still be nice to the agents, tell them when you’ll be available next and they won’t hassle you until that time.

:hehe: cough NHS :hehe:

Whooop! Cheers for the quick responses!

I’m pretty sold on the idea of an umbrella company over starting a ltd myself - I don’t intend to do this permanently, and basically less hassle is always good.

Anyone got any recommendations of agencies or the like, or are they mostly much of a muchness?

Hadn’t thought of that on the first contract, though; basically take whatever I can get for the first gig.

Lots of IT people on bikes :slight_smile:

Dont think of agencies, just think of jobs, use the internet to search and then get jobs based on that, think of the recruitment company afterwards. They will recommend an umbrella company from their preferred suppliers.

I am with Huxley and Parasol for the umbrella company.

Exactly! Others should learn from my mistakes!

I personally do not like umbrella companies. Government/HMRC target them a lot more than LTD companies and if you’re doing this for a while it’s possibly not such a good thing. However, for quick and simple they are good it seems.

your own Ltd company and a decent honest accountant (:w00t:) is indispensable. I hate doing VAT and payroll and tax returns for the company and personal. I prefer to spend the time riding!! :w00t::w00t::w00t::w00t:

The market is very good at the moment. We’ve got a contractor who’se phone rings every day at 11 with offers of more work.

As above get yourself a PLC and an account. As I understand you can claim the VAT on items to do with the business such as cars and computer and all that good stuff.

on that note, motorbikes are 100% tax deductible I believe!

IT contractor here too - Wow aren’t we a lot.

All good advice on the above here are things that I may add:

  • Get yourself clued up on IR35, it’s a piece of tax law that says that if you behave like a permanent employee, you shall be taxed like one. Thereby wiping the biggest advantage of all in being a contractor: less taxes.

  • I’d say go with an ltd + accountant, rather than umbrella. Costs less in the long run and it’s not much less work.

  • Do not worry excessively about setting the ltd. In uk you can do that in less than 24h, so concentrate on finding a contract first. You can set up a company right after with little hassle.

oh… and if you can get yourself an accountant girlfirend, makes life much much easier for a contractor.:cool: