First timer’s guide to contracting

Mark Bremer our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 5/11/2016 12:18 PM
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.

Related blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out the related posts below.

Weekly News Digest: 14th - 18th June 2021

This is Harnham’s weekly news digest, the place to come for a quick breakdown of the week’s top news stories from the world of Data & Analytics. Gov.uk: Five signs of a good data quality culture Particularly post-pandemic, we all want to know that our data is fit for purpose. In this article from the Government Data Quality Hub, they look at five ways to ensure that your data's quality is right for your's and your users’ needs. This includes: Everyone is involvedData quality is a commitment, not a taskYou know what works for your organisationYou know why quality mattersYou are proactive not reactive We know that committing to a good data quality culture is a continual process. This core advice allows us to take a step back and think about how you can understand your unique challenges and involve the right people, so you can prevent bad quality data before it damages your work. See more on this here. Analytics Insight: 5 types of artificial intelligence that will shape 2021 and beyond We really like this article from Analytics Insight that explores the future of technology, and specifically the rise in uses of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is often seen to be disruptive as there is an assumption that robots could take over and jobs are wiped out, but it’s more likely that humans and machines will work together to streamline processes across a range of industries. The different types of AI to keep an eye on include: Customised technology providerChoosy algorithmHuman-machine interactionReciprocating machinesTheory of mind We’re always excited to learn more about new technologies, click here to read more on this. KD Nuggets: Five types of thinking for a high performing data scientist In this piece KD Nuggets look at how the way our approach to problem-solving may be guided by your personal skills or the type of problem at hand. As a Data Scientist, appreciating different approaches can help you more effectively model data in the business world and communicate your results to the decision-makers. Whether this is model thinking, systems thinking, agent-based thinking, behavioural thinking, or computational thinking, taking the time to understand your approach will significantly help the way you complete the function of your role. To read the full article, see here.  TechRepublic: These 220+ courses will help you master tech skills and prep for IT certification exams We know that there is a digital skills gap. According to Boston Consulting Group, there will be tens of millions of job vacancies by 2030 that will be hard to fill because not enough workers have the required skills, many of which are in technology. One of the best ways to upgrade your skillset is to complete extra training and qualifications to ensure you’re always learning more about your market and providing yourself with the best opportunities to achieve your next career step. ITU Online has over 200 courses covering cloud deployment, cybersecurity and more. Of course, this isn’t the only way in which you can level up your skills, but it’s a good place to start! To read more about this, click here.  We've loved seeing all the news from Data & Analytics in the past week, it’s a market full of exciting and dynamic opportunities. To learn more about our work in this space, get in touch with us at info@harnham.com.    

How Will Embracing Flexible Working Help The Life Science Sector To Grow?

COVID-19 has drastically changed ways of working in the Life Science industry. Overnight, teams moved online, while new research had to be prioritised. Life Sciences were already moving towards more remote working, and the pandemic has only quickened this shift. There is no doubt these changes have fundamentally changed the Life Science sector and how professionals working in this space operate post-pandemic.  However, uncertainty still remains about the viability of remote working for the sector and there is a divide between those able to work remotely and those who need to go into ‘wet labs’. Is remote working a step too far for Life Sciences? Collaboration  2020 saw an increase in collaboration between professionals working across different areas of Life Sciences. Interestingly, organisations who may usually compete came together to share data and work towards a shared goal. Collaboration is essential in Life Sciences, yet for many, remote working reduces spontaneous teamwork and creativity.  New flexible lab spaces may be the future for Life Sciences though. RUNLABS have recently opened their first fully equipped flexible lab space in Paris for scientists and companies working in Life Sciences. This space hopes to builds on the existing collaborative approach in the industry and encourage further cooperative innovation. Efficiency  Many employees noticed a spike in employee efficiency when working remotely. By eliminating commutes and increasing flexibility, employees were able to be more productive with their time. Remote working also allowed organisations to streamline processes and reduce time spent in meetings.  However, insight from McKinsey highlights that research and development leaders estimate productivity has fallen by between 25 and 75 per cent due to remote working. Those in pharma manufacturing have reported lower levels off efficiency, as well as the potential for lower-quality outputs.  Research The pandemic forced remote trails to become a necessity, and since then, they have increased in popularity. While face-to-face research is still preferrable, remote trials can reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Indeed, on-site monitoring accounts for a significant portion of the costs of bringing a new product to market, yet this is no longer necessary in remote trials.   Not only are remote trials more cost-effective, but they can open research to a wider range of patients and can increase the communication between trial participants. Diversity Flexible working can run a risk to diversity and inclusion though. McKinsey also notes that, ‘when faced with a crisis, leaders often revert to relying on the core team of people they already know and trust. This disproportionately affects women and minorities because they are often not part of that group. Differences in perceptions and experiences of inclusion results in individuals or communities being disenfranchised, which can be devastating to careers and create a two-tiered culture.’ We know that 27 per cent of D&I leaders say their organisation have put all or most of their initiatives that embrace diversity and inclusion on hold because of the pandemic. However, remote work unlocks new hire pools and opens up the workplace to a more diverse workforce. Workers are no longer restricted by their geographical location or personal circumstances. Flexible working is an opportunity for Life Science organisations to harness a wider talent pool and increase their diversity. There is no doubt that Life Science is one of the most cutting-edge sectors globally and the pandemic has only cemented this. COVID-19 has shown the potential for remote working in life sciences, and in-person health care professional access may never return to pre-lockdown levels. But, going forward life sciences need to remember remote working is not practical for everyone nor every role. Organisations will need to consider individual wellbeing and role efficiency as they decide their next step.  If you’re in the world of Data & Analytics and looking to take a step up or find the next member of your team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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