Things You Need To Know About Contracting



Career choices written on napkin

Whether you specialise in Credit Risk, Analytics, Data, Modelling, SAS, Insight, Data Management or Marketing Analytics, if you want to work on contract, this article will ensure you’re in the know.

The demand for contract workers continues to rise, especially within Data and Analytics, as flexible working becomes a way of life in many companies. Skills offered by professional contractors are highly valued by a wealth of organisations, many of whom see the procurement of short-term expertise as a key element of their recruitment strategy. Additionally, the growing skills gaps in Data and Analytics has meant that contract resource has become a necessity for many employers.



What is contract work?


What are the options?

Other considerations?

Build a network

What is contract work?

Contract work means that you are not employed on a permanent basis by anyone (apart from your own Limited Company). You have the freedom and flexibility to decide when you want to work and for how long. Generally within our sectors and industries of focus contract roles range from 3 month assignments to 2 year contracts.

In today’s competitive business, environment employers are turning increasingly to contract professionals to provide additional resources as and when they are needed, as well as securing harder-to-find skill sets for specific projects. In fact, for some Data and Analytics skills such as SAS Analytics, Web Analytics, Marketing Analysis & Credit Risk, there is a real shortage of talent and that’s where you come in.

In addition, the flexibility, choice and variety of experience you can achieve by fulfilling contract or interim positions mean that this is an increasingly popular career choice for many professionals. As well as the career choice, contract work can also be an ideal solution for those between permanent jobs, travelling or looking to return to work after a career break. 

What are the options?
 

There are two main options for contracting; you can either set up your own limited company or go through an umbrella company. Which one is for you? If contracting is a long term career choice then setting up your own Limited Company may be the best option as it is the most tax efficient way of managing your income. However, if you are only going to contract for maybe 3 – 6 month with the intention of then getting a permanent job, utilising an umbrella company will potentially be your best choice.

If you choose to set up a Limited Company, which is the most common route, then you will need to:

  • Become familiar with the constraints of IR35 and what contractual agreements you should and shouldn’t enter in to. If you are paying taxes like a Limited Company, you will need to behave like one, for example restrictions potentially exist concerning how long you can provide services for one client. Also, your Limited Company needs the right to substitute its employees with other consultants.
  • Get a good accountant. Don’t cut corners, you really should do everything thoroughly and by the book. This is a real hot topic for the Government at the moment and you need to be familiar with and comply with all the latest regulations.
Other considerations if your choose to contract

Think about the medium term when it comes to income, as a stable contract for 12 months at a market rate is far better than a very highly paid one for 3 months. It can take another 2 months to find that next contract and you could be unpaid for that length of time.

Be careful contracting through micro agencies (1 or 2 staff) if you can. If you do choose this route, you must credit check them. Some micro agencies can be financially risky, remember they are the ones paying you, not the client.

One of the big benefits of using agencies, as well as an easy route to market for you, is the fact they will normally pay you within 2 weeks of the end of the month you have just completed. Be aware that contracting for companies directly can, in many cases, mean you are paid like a supplier and monthly invoices can take around 45 days to be paid in the UK.

Build your network

Lastly, build your network with all agencies and clients, as well as other contractors.  However you choose to contract, you are now the sales function for you and your skills, and your network will have the have the knowledge of where your next contract is.


<< By Simon Clarke>>

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2020: The Year of the Data Engineer

Data Engineers are the architects of Data. They lay the foundation businesses use to collect, gather, store, and make Data usable. Each iteration of the Data as it moves along the pipeline is cleaned and analysed to be used by Data professionals for their reports and Machine Learning models. A ROLE IN HIGH DEMAND Even as businesses reopen, reassess, and for some, remain remote, the demand for Data Engineers is high. Computer applications, Data modelling, prediction modelling, Machine Learning, and more need Data professionals to lay the groundwork to help businesses benefit in today’s Data-driven culture. The word gets thrown around a bit, but when the majority of business has moved online, Data-driven is the name of the game. Having a Data plan, a Data team, and all aligned with your business strategy is imperative to the way business is done today. This type of innovation can offer insight for better business decisions, enhance customer engagement, and improve customer retention without missing a beat.  Without Data Engineers, Data Scientists can’t do their jobs. Understanding the amount of Data, the speed at which is delivered, and its variety need Engineers to create reliable and efficient systems. Like many Data professional jobs, even still in 2020, Data Engineers are in high demand. Yet a skills shortage remains. This has created an emerging field of professionals from other backgrounds who are looking to take on the role of Data Engineer and fill the gap. Whether by necessity or design, these individuals build and manage pipelines, automate projects, and see their projects through to the end result. CAREER OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE THE NORM As this growing trend emerges, it has created career opportunities for those with experience outside the normal channels of Data Engineering study. While it might involve individuals from backgrounds such as software Engineering, Databases, or something similarly IT-related, some businesses are upskilling their employees with talent. Rapid growth, reskilling, upskilling, and ever-constant changes still leave businesses with a shortage of Data Engineers to meet the demand. It’s critical to fill the gap for success. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, Data Engineering is listed in the top 10 of jobs experiencing growth. THREE STEPS TOWARDS BECOMING A DATA ENGINEER This is a vital role in today’s organisations. So, if you’re in the tech industry and want to take a deeper dive into Data as a Data Engineer, what steps can you take? This is a time like no other. There’s time to assess your goals, take online classes, and get hands on with projects. Though having a base of computer science, mathematics, or business-related degree is always a good start. Be well-versed in such popular programming languages such as SQL, Python, R, Hadoop, Spark, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).Prepare for an entry-level role once you have your bachelor’s degree.Consider additional education to stay ahead of the curve. This can include not only professional certifications, but higher education degrees as well. The more experience, hands-on as well as academic, you have the more in demand you’ll be as a Data Engineer. Data scientists might be the rockstars of Data, but Data Engineers set the stage. As business processes have shifted online, looking for your next job has become more daunting than ever before. If you’re looking for your next opportunity in Data, take a look at our current jobs or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

How To Hire With Video Interviews

Virtual interviewing may have erupted over the last few months but the trends are showing that this is something that is likely to last well beyond the remote reality that many people are facing. Virtual interviewing is not as easy as it seems, in fact we’ve found our clients asking us over and over again for advice on how to run an effective video interview process. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of our top tips for clients and hiring managers for a successful video interview:  1. DON’T FORGET THE PRE-INTERVIEW PREP Confirm: Just like you would confirm a face to face interview with an email with the right address, instruction of how to get there and what to expect – the same applies for virtual interviews. Ensure to email candidates in advance with a link, information about who they are meeting and, most importantly, what you expect from a dress code. One of candidates biggest areas of concern is usually about what to wear for a virtual interview, so setting this out clearly in an email is a great way to start the process off on the right foot.Do not forget to provide instructions for using the video conferencing platform. Whether it is zoom, skype, google hangouts or another – keep in mind the candidate may not be familiar with your platform of choice.  Test:  Make sure to log onto to the interview early to ensure your camera, microphone and set up works. Be sure to ensure that your image is clear and that the volume is adequate. It is likely that the candidate will do the same and will ensure that the first few minutes of the interview aren’t focused on the technical side of things and ‘can you hear/see me?’.  2. 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Preparing for how to optimise your screen and information therefore is important so that you can focus more on the candidate.  Read up on the candidate: Complete your CV read through and background prior to the interview to ensure that you do not need to rely wholly on the CV to make sense of the candidate’s answers. Don’t try and wing it: Prepare your questions in advance, have the questions in front of you and use them to help you to keep the interview on track and ensure all your questions get answered.  4. BE AWARE THAT EYE CONTACT IS DIFFERENT One of the biggest issues that clients and candidates alike feedback to us is that the concept of eye contact when video interviewing has as slightly different meaning. Having real eye contact in a virtual interview is challenging, because it means that you are going to be looking at the camera and not at the candidate, which takes some adjusting to.  Top Tips: Train yourself to look at the camera when you are talking, as this will give the candidate more of that personal feeling.Avoid the temptation to gape at your image on the screen, or the candidate when  you are speaking. If possible, turn off your picture so that the only image that shows on the screen is that of the candidate – this avoids the very familiar desire to look at oneself.  5. AVOID DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS There’s only so much you can do to stop your child running into the room, or your partner forgetting you’re on an interview and heading to the fridge but you can control the digital interruptions. It is important that you give the candidate your full attention. If your entire process is virtual, these are the sole ways that the candidate has to judge whether this is the right opportunity for them – so remember that this is a key part of their experience. Turn off notifications: Interviewing on a computer means that you are more likely to be distracted by your emails, IM messages, we’d advise turning off your notifications for both emails and IMs and closing all unnecessary tabs. Turn your phone onto airplane mode or DND. Harnham are currently supporting our clients within the Data & Analytics space on running completely remote interview processes for candidates. If you're looking to hire we can help you optimise your process in order to get the best talent then get in touch with one of our expert consultants. 

How Web Analytics Can Help Grow Your Business

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The Evolution Of CRM Marketing – A Q&A With Catherine Allan

We recently spoke to Catherine Allan, an Associate Director of CRM at Babylon health, a Digital healthcare service with a mission to put accessible and affordable health service into the hands of everyone.  After starting her career in journalism, Allan moved into Marketing, a seemingly natural transition given her copywriting experience. Given the transformation in technology and the use of Data within Marketing, she has seen the significant impact that it has had within the space.  Reflecting on what attracted her into CRM Marketing in the first place, she explains, “It’s that ability to really get to know the audience, what they look like. You have a very defined group of people that you can look at exactly how they are responding – you can get to know their likes, dislikes and respond to them in ways that you can engage them more. You can keep them working with or using your product or organisation”.  Initially working for Ten Lifestyle Group, her clients varied from travel businesses to large financial brands. Like many at the time, they had their traditional methods but, as would soon become a trend within the industry, they started to change things up. Allan expands, “We started experimenting with CRM with the members of our concierge to see if we could. How much better would those people respond to tailored communication over those who received a newsletter of generic stuff?”. Enter the use of Data to tailor CRM offerings. Their first application was to their travel clients, “If we knew someone had a skiing holiday versus a holiday in September one year, we would follow up the following year. Isn’t it time to pick a holiday?”. It seems natural now, but it signified that shift from the mass-communication to segmented customer profiles.  As Marketing teams became more Data-driven, however, customers had to get used to that change of communication. Allan remembers the shift well, “When I first started in CRM, it wasn’t personalised at all but I started to see that people got more used to you knowing their Data and using it. It became less freaky to show that you knew something about them. At the beginning, we were having to be careful about how much we evidenced that we knew, you couldn’t really say I know you’ve had a Ski Holiday. But over the course of the years people have started to expect that, almost like it would be weird if marketeers didn’t know that. The culture towards that use of Data and personalisation has changed”.   However, she explains, there is a limit, “With what people are expecting from your CRM, there is a scaling to how you present stuff. You don’t want to be creepy, you don’t want to overstep it by knowing too much”.  Now, moving into the health-tech space at Babylon, her work revolves around the products that they have on the market. Everything from applications that allow you to log your mood and sync your wearable tech, through to a health check function where you’re given a digital twin of your body. The use of Data within these products is, of course, on another level. The products produce Data-driven recommendations that are very specific to each users. She explains, “obviously in the Marketing team we don’t have access to people’s health records or any health information which they input into the app. So it’s about finding the right cadence to actually engage people with the product, as well as personalising using the Data we can see, such as demographics. Men and women have different health concerns and they differ for younger and older age groups.” Moving into the health space has opened up a different way of engaging with customers. Allan and her team were able to use their Data and produce newsletters that actually engaged their audience on a wider basis. She expands, “We found great success in sending regular newsletters just about health in general, people love to know how they compare to other people and they also want to know to be empowered to manage their own health”.  Naturally, a company like Babylon feel the pressures of a global pandemic in what their customers expect from them to say and do. This is exactly what Allan’s team are now focused on. “When the pandemic came to the UK, as a healthcare company the first thought for the Marketing team was how can we support our members? What can we offer which is unique to Babylon which will add value. The answer we came to was offering information, guides and videos verified by doctors to counteract all those false stories out there about COVID-19”.  Despite the technology to innovate, with things like interactive emails and unique content, there was still a need to strip things back. As Allan explains, “people are anxious, they are worried, they just want the right information, you’ve already got their attention”.  Her team was responsible for launching this new product to members and developing lifestyle communications, whilst also keeping the members engaged and updated. Naturally, the communication during the pandemic shifted, “We upped our newsletter frequency from twice a month to twice a week for the first three weeks of lockdown, then down to once a week, a cadence which we are still maintaining with no drop off in interest” What were the results of these changes? “Our open rates went up, our click through rates went up and our unsubscribes reduced, although they were very low to start with) We reduced sends to once a week when we felt that there was less to say, which I think was better than continuing to send more and becoming boring. Our results over the last 6 weeks have been off the charts averaging a 34% open rate across the whole base of subscribers vs the 24% we were averaging before.”  It’s clear that regardless of industry, from lifestyle to healthcare, the world of CRM has progressed. The information that we gather on customers is evolving, as is the way that we can speak to those customers too. One thing is clear however, from Allan’s experience, especially in the current circumstances, nothing takes away from a clear message.  If you’re looking for your next CRM role or to build out your team, Harnham may be able to 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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