At least once a week, I have a conversation with someone in a permanent job who wants to find out more about making the step into contracting. I have helped many people make this move, and am always more than happy to talk through the many processes you need to go through in order to be set up for commercial freelancing. Everyone is receptive to this and keen to learn exactly how to go about getting a Ltd company set up or engage with an umbrella company should they be successful in securing a contract position. However, there are two sticking points which come up in almost every conversation I have:
- I am finding more and more, that people coming from permanent roles have hugely unrealistic expectations of the day rates they might be able to achieve on the contract market. You are competing for contracts against experienced contractors and although you may have similar level of technical skill, you do not have a track record of going into a new organisation and hitting the ground running from day one. Candidates new to the contract market should be making themselves as competitive as possible to ensure they are considered alongside the more experienced candidates, or you will more than likely be unsuccessful. Once you have a few contracts under your belt, you can gradually up your rate towards some of the larger rates you may have seen advertised.
- Candidates must also accept that the notice period you are held to in your permanent job may rule you out of consideration for a contract all together. I am not suggesting for a minute that you should hand your notice in and ‘cross your fingers’ that you land a contract quickly, but you should remain patient and be prepared to lose out to contractors with immediate availability.
In short, if you feel you are ready to make the step into contracting – go for it. However, bear in mind the fact that you should make yourself more competitively priced than experienced contractors and you should be prepared to lose out on contracts due to having a notice period in your permanent contract. The contract team at Cathcart Associates will be happy to answer any questions you have about the process so feel free to get in touch!