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First timers guide to contracting

First timer’s guide to contracting

If you are reading this article, you have decided to join the growing number of data and analytics professionals in the freelance market. As daunting as this may be for some, increasingly permanent staff are now exploring the prospect of contract work for their next career move. Whether it be for reasons of flexibility or a financial bottom line, contracting is now a credible career choice for many data analysts whose skill-sets are in high demand across many sectors that need additional resources.

This sentiment is echoed by the IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), who conducted a recent survey, which showed more than a third (35%) of freelancers indicated increased confidence in their business outlook for 2016.

Reaping the benefits


As we are a few months into the new year, this confidence seems to be well placed for data analysts in particular. Largely due to the breadth and wealth of experience gained from contracting across differing technologies and verticals.

This concentrated exposure can progress your career far quicker than a permanent role, in what is a fast-paced, increasingly real-time, data-led landscape.

So, no matter if you are already a contractor, or thinking of becoming one, this first timer’s guide will make sure you are getting the most out of each new opportunity.

I have highlighted five of the most common tasks I help job seekers with in order for them to be fully prepared to start a new contract job.

You should use this guide when you’re weighing up if contracting is right for you, and if you could make the leap to the contract market.

  1. Your CV: A targeted CV can make all the difference for you to stand out to both recruiters and hiring managers. Make sure, it’s high-impact and concise. With clear details of your previous technical experience.

  2. Taxes: As you’re self-employed, the company you work for is now your client. They won’t pay your tax for you; this will be your responsibility at the end of every financial year. Therefore, it’s always prudent to save 20-30% of your monthly pay to go towards your taxes when April arrives to avoid any nasty surprises now that as of April 2016, HMRC outlined new expenses and tax relief guidelines.

  3. Find a good accountant: Speaking of taxes, a good accountant will be your best ally. They will make sure your taxes are paid, and deadlines are met. They will also advise you on allowable expenses for contractors.

  4. Adaptability: As a contractor, you’ll typically join an established team in full flow, and be expected to land on your feet. You will need to reassure your client that this is something you’re highly experienced in. Whether this is due to jumping from project to project in a permanent role, or past contracts.

  5. Networking: You are now the face and sales function of your own consultancy, and will need to make sure you have the knowledge of where your next contract is going to come from. Whether it’s through using your preferred agency such as Harnham, keeping in touch with previous managers, or networking with other contractors within the market; who you know will be a big influence in where you find your next contract. It is key that you are vigilant and consistent in your search.

Have you been seen an impact of the tax changes for contractors or recently become a contractor?

If you have any questions about contracting, or would like any further advice, please get in touch with our contract team on 020 8408 6070.

   David Thorp
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