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So You Want To Go Contracting?

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So You Want To Go Contracting is a step by step guide for all freelancers, contractors, and interim managers.

Synopsis

What You Need to Consider Before You Go Contracting

Have you thought about going freelance, interim management or contracting but you are nervous about making the jump?

- Is it a good choice for you?

- How to set yourself up as a contractor?

- How to get your first assignment?

- How to operate on a day-to-day basis?

This is where this book comes in. By the end of this book, you will have a good indication of whether contract is the right fit for you and what is required to make the ‘jump’ from permanent employment into contract work

There are over 70 million freelancers in the world today, and many more are joining this fraternity daily. In So You Want To Go Contracting, Paul Taylor presents a simple guide for current freelancers and any individual who is thinking about freelancing or contacting.  The information the author provides in this short text, will help persons make informed decisions about freelancing.


I believe readers will love the structure of this book. The author often uses bullet points which makes it easy to follow and understand. I love the fact that the author takes a few minutes to explain the differences between freelance, contractor, and interim work at the beginning. While these terms are interchangeable, it is also important to know how they are different. I welcome the fact that the author uses simple headings and language because this makes it easy for readers to follow and understand. The Key Points Sections at the end of each chapter is a great idea and a bonus.


Taylor expertly guides the reader through sections like why do people want to become a contractor, why do firms want contractors, who would be your competition, the good and bad points of being a contractor, key points for a first time contractor, etc.  These simple headings leave no doubt as to what each section will cover, and that is refreshing.


So You Want To Go Contracting comes at a time when so many persons are considering freelance work. Most persons can benefit, and will be thankful, for the simple layout and language that the author uses in this book. Paul Taylor is highly qualified to write on the subject because he has been contracting for over 10 years. I highly recommend this book as a staple on the shelves of current and future freelancers or contractors.

Reviewed by

Mardene Carr is from the beautiful Island of Jamaica. She is a trained Librarian, doctoral student, blogger, journal reviewer, proofreader,and editor. She has authored several journal articles and blog posts. Mardene is also a motivational speaker and international student coach.

Synopsis

What You Need to Consider Before You Go Contracting

Have you thought about going freelance, interim management or contracting but you are nervous about making the jump?

- Is it a good choice for you?

- How to set yourself up as a contractor?

- How to get your first assignment?

- How to operate on a day-to-day basis?

This is where this book comes in. By the end of this book, you will have a good indication of whether contract is the right fit for you and what is required to make the ‘jump’ from permanent employment into contract work

So You Want to Be a Contractor? Why Do People Want to Become a Contractor?


Why Do People Want to Become a Contractor?

I assume you are reading this book because you are thinking about making the jump to contracting.

Therefore, I would imagine that you are in a state of permanent employment, and you are unhappy with one or several aspects of it.

Poor Job Satisfaction

This could be caused by internal politics where you are spending more time ‘playing games’ than doing your job.  

Poor Work–Life Balance

You are working long hours and do not have enough time off.

Poor Salary

You are unhappy with your remuneration. For example poor salary, no pay raises or having benefits being cut. 

People Being Promoted above You

Maybe you have seen your fill of people being promoted above you even though they are not as talented as you.

Dull Work

The work itself is dull or not motivating

No Career Progression

There is no real prospect of intellectual growth or career progression.

Being Promoted Away from Your Job

People sometimes get promoted away from their preferred job.

For example, as a top accountant or good software programmer, you may be good at your job and enjoy it. However, because you are good at your job, you tend to get promoted up the management chain which means you move away from what you are doing. 

Therefore your job satisfaction drops and you become unhappy.

Being Made Redundant from Permanent Work

With the increased number of redundancies over the past decade, there are a growing number of people going contracting because they either do not want to go back to permanent work or they are actually struggling to find permanent work.

No doubt there are several other reasons which I have not listed. 

However if you answered “Yes” to any of the reasons above then I would strongly recommend that you investigate whether contracting is suitable for you.


Why Do Firms Want Contractors?

Despite what one reads in the media, contractors are very much in demand.

Firms will recruit contractors because they have a skill gap and also because they can be recruited and removed much easier and quicker than permanent staff. 

Contractors will be used in a variety of situations. A few are listed below:

Specialist Skills.

To provide specialist skills that the firm does not have or only needs for short period of time. Such as tax accountancy, specific training or skills in a specific technology

Interim Management

To provide interim management skills. For example a manager has left and a contractor is brought in to bridge the gap while a permanent replacement is recruited.

Change/Project Management

To provide specific skills to support a project or change programme. For example project management, business analysis or technology skills.

Company Expansion

To support a company expansion. For example a firm is expanding but is worried about the financial risk of recruiting permanent staff. Therefore contractors are brought in initially because they can be recruited and removed at short notice.

Company Downsizing

To support a company downsizing. For example a firm is downsizing and contractors are brought into ‘plug’ skill gaps due to downsizing. Contractors can be recruited and removed at short notice.


Who Would Be Your Competition?

Competition would come from several areas.

Other Contractors

The most obvious would be other contractors who would be after the same roles. Therefore your competitive advantage would be driven by your skillset, rate, availability and as well as your ability to sell yourself through your CV and any interview process. (This is discussed further on in this book).

Larger Consultancy Firms

The other area of competition is from larger consultancy firms who are brought in to complete a project or piece of work. 

These firms tender to go for the bigger pieces of work because they can bring a team of people onsite to complete work. Also it is sometimes easier for a client to ‘outsource’ the work to a single firm as opposed to recruiting and managing several individual contractors.  

However it is not uncommon for contractors to actually be recruited to work for the larger consultancy firms to ‘plug’ any skill gaps they have. With the exception of the larger firms, most consultancies have a small set of permanent employees (say the owners, subject matter experts and administration staff). They then use contractors (or associates to use the correct term) to ‘pad’ out their teams for client projects. The advantage for the client is that they get a good team. The advantage for the consultancy firm is that they obtain decent staff that can be added or removed quickly. The advantage to us contractors is that we get some interesting work and normally at a decent rate of pay.

Permanent Staff at Client Sites

The final area of competition is the permanent members of staff at the client where we are working. It is not uncommon for existing permanent staff to hold some bitterness against contractors because they perceive them to be getting the more interesting work and being paid better. Therefore it is important that you build relationships with the permanent staff through doing a good job, working hard, delivering and being tactful


Changing Nature of Employment

As a side note, it is worthwhile to consider the changing nature of employment.

When I started working in 1980s, the focus was on getting a good permanent job. Because I lived near London, I was told to get a job with a bank or some large financial services organization. If you did well and kept your hand ‘out of the till’ then you could have a job for life.

However, as people know, things have changed since then. The world is more volatile and unstable. For example, the financial crisis in the late 2000s and Brexit in the EU and the UK

Therefore, firms do not want to employ vast amounts of staff as they did previously. This is because these are fixed costs which are hard to manage against a variable and unreliable external market.

Therefore this means there is an increased demand for contractors.


Millennials and Looking Forward

In additional the millennial generation has a different attitude towards work than older generations.

Millennials are very much more focused on a work–life balance. They are more than happy to move jobs more frequently. They would like much more flexibility, either in working from home or taking career breaks.

Therefore this means the structure of employment is actually moving toward a more freelance or contractor basis.

This means many people will probably move into freelancing or contracting even if they had no previous plans to do so.

About the author

Consultant with 30 years experience of implementing change. Chair and NED for a variety of industry and social enterprises Author and speaker on change , freelancing, technology, financial services, artificial intelligence, etc. An Associate Lecturer for the Open University teaching Technology. view profile

Published on October 18, 2018

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20000 words

Genre: Career

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