Is anyone an IT contractor?

26
Found 17th May
I appreciate this might be a bit niche but I know IT geeks are traditionally tight so think there is a high chance someone is a contractor

I've been a permie all my career but looking at potentially going out as a contractor. Do you have an experience you could share?

Is it better to be a ltd company or under an umbrella, is there a good reference guide for IR35?
Is it really worth the uncertainty?
What's the longest period you've been without work?
How do you find your roles, through agencies or direct?

I'm an architect (Mixture of Technical, Solution and Infrastructure) with about 20 years expierence with 5 in architecture and the rest in support and project delivery.

Many thanks
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Been contracting since 2001. IR35 is a problem but manageable if you are Professional and not just money motivated. The right to substitution is key. Executing it is 24ct gold. Good contracts matter so be prepared to walk away.

Always worked by personal reference until lately when a lot of friends/colleagues are dropping out. I'm ready to retire but spend to much on gadgets and holidays. There are a hell of a lot more contractors out there today than on 2001. Network like crazy, even in the good times.

You need your personal finances in very good shape before you start. Own your car. No Mortgage or debts. Pension pot looking healthy. 12m cash in bank.

Stay trained and stay technical. Move contracts to get more exposure. Do not sit in one job and think things are rosy

Ltd is my preference and use a respectable Chartered Accountant rather than a fly by night 'we do your books' firm. Do not take the michael out of expenses.
Edited by: "ccnp" 17th May
Thanks very much, in your expierence are most contracts on site or from home?

Also, did you have sickness insurance to protect you if you were out of work for a period?

Mortgage is unfortunately very much in the back of my mind, unless I win the bingo its going to be there I'm afraid. I've got about 6 months to fall back on but its a worry at the back of my mind.
I'm retired but used to be a freelance consultant.

The vast majority of contractors are what we used to call BOS Bum on Seat and were in effect just the same as permies but without the supposed long term safety nets that come with normal employment. Those people are why IR35 came in - the employers and contractors took the piss with NI, dividends and tax. I knew people who had done the same job in the same place for over 15 years - they weren't really running businesses in any meaningful sense.
They basically reply to ads from recruitment consultants.
Oh and most people in this category hate to have all this pointed out.

If you will be working like that you will almost certainly be IR35 caught and pushed down the brolly route. Don't take the piss with tax avoidance schemes and expenses - I've seen people broken when hmrc catch up with them.
In general the industry has moved towards acceptance of ir35 because the clients arent willing to take the risk, so you may well not get any choice.

From what you say about your experience I would say you could be in a different category.
I used to be an expert in a couple of niche technology/business areas. I had contacts with the vendors and customers and did work usually on a project or on call basis for a number of firms. I did pre-sales work for hardware and software vendors, design work, consultancy and bits of development.
This sort of thing involves maintaining relationships with multiple firms and having concurrent contracts with them. I found work either through vendors or word of mouth or direct approach to clients. I worked through a Ltd either direct or as a sub-contractor. I also employed other people on a subcontract basis for some projects, varying from specialists for specific tech things to generic bods to help with project roll outs.

You can make very good money in either scenario.

Things to think about:

Location - I'm in rural north yorkshire, travel was a pita.
Time of life/lefestyle : freelancing can mean lots of time away - if you have family/kids this can be an issue.
people skills - are you able to talk to directors/decision makers and advise or are you an implementor of other peoples plans?
contacts/networking - how well known are you in the industry? Do you have good relationships with key players? do you go to user groups, conferences etc?

I used to be a mod on contractoruk which is probably still the best forum for contractors in the uk contractoruk.com/
Go read stuff and ask questions. There are good guides to ir35, s660 etc and you can see the sort of issues that crop up for people.
Would you employ an FTE and let them wfh? No. There are some jobs where you will be able to once your role is implemented and they trust you. You need kit and that is an IR35 problem.

Yes, I had a sick policy but wish I hadn't bothered. Friends Provident £35pm paying £2kpm after 6 m sick. Never used it. Medicine has come a long way.

I am an honest god contractor pure and simple and I don't pretend to be anything else. I like the life. No company BS about valuing me as an employee and doing an appraisal 2 times a year. If they value me, they offer me more work but at 2 years, I move on (HMRC expenses rules that you will discover). I work for myself doing the jobs I choose and accepting the lack of protection and benefits. I get no sick pay, unemployment benefit from the state, no training, no counseling service, no unfair dismissal protection, no parental maternity leave etc etc. When I work, I get paid. When I don't work, I don't get paid.

I am not a 'freelance consultant'. I don't have an ego that needs that view of myself in the world. I was a consultant in one of the premier global professional services partnerships so I know the difference between contracting and Consultancy. Very very few 'freelance' consultants exist in this world. Most who entitle themselves as that just have a massive inferiority complex that manifests itself as a superiority complex.

But there are plenty of BoS as mas99 describes and they do need taxing. They stir up resentment among permies and contractors alike. IR35 is needed for them. Personally, I believe you should not be able to work for more than 2 years at one place without being classified as inside IR35.

A lot depends on you and your approach to life.
ccnp32 m ago

I am not a 'freelance consultant'. I don't have an ego that needs that …I am not a 'freelance consultant'. I don't have an ego that needs that view of myself in the world. I was a consultant in one of the premier global professional services partnerships so I know the difference between contracting and Consultancy. Very very few 'freelance' consultants exist in this world. Most who entitle themselves as that just have a massive inferiority complex that manifests itself as a superiority complex.


Bit of a strange rant

If its aimed at me then I certainly don't have an ego that needs stroking.

I'd differentiate that a contractor typically does sequential contracts, usually 6months and more.
What would you call it when you are really working like a small software business? I call it freelancing and the work is consultancy. both sides of the sales process, help writing ITT for a client, responding to ITT as part of a vendor team (not the same itt). Couple of weeks developing performance tests to compare platforms. Couple of weeks reviewing an install that has issues. Report writing, bespoke design/development, tech liaison between different parties collaborating on a bid, bits of project management etc. Basically much like the work I did for a vendor before I went freelance.
I was just someone who enjoyed the variety of interesting work but wasn't enough of a salesperson to want to actually set up a software house and didn't enjoy managing people.
Just another thing for the OP - whats your notice period? Thats the usual first stumbling block, especially if you're on 3 months notice. Managing the whole process of getting out of the existing job and into a contract can be stressful. Some people just walk out on their perm job when they get a contract but that burns bridges.

Do you have an opening that you are lining up or would you be taking a leap of faith?
OK, I just call all of it contracting unless working for an Exec directly on something very special.

You are absolutely right about what jobs you can get to do once they realise how useful you are; be useful and you get variety. When on the payroll, that seldom happens.

Notice period is an interesting choice and marks out genuine contractors from the pseudo permies in my book. I usually go for None. Walk me to the door. That is a significant difference over an employee even though HMRC pretend otherwise. When reading agency contracts, its important to avoid being 'under the direction/control' of the client and that links back to zero notice. Sadly, not all firms get (yet).

Agree that building bridges is essential. Today's colleague/trainee/opposition counterpart is tomorrow's job prospect.
Been contracting for the last 10 years and everything, financially is about to change. The new IR35 changes are about to screw over a lot of contractors as they are changing the responsibility from contractor to employer and no "Right to substitute" or other current loop holes will work. Unless you are desperate for a change i would wait and see how it pans out.
mas993 h, 20 m ago

Just another thing for the OP - whats your notice period? Thats the …Just another thing for the OP - whats your notice period? Thats the usual first stumbling block, especially if you're on 3 months notice. Managing the whole process of getting out of the existing job and into a contract can be stressful. Some people just walk out on their perm job when they get a contract but that burns bridges.Do you have an opening that you are lining up or would you be taking a leap of faith?


I'm on 3 months however I'm currently reviewing a VR offer which would give me a comfortable 6 month buffer and would release me within 3 weeks. I've been looking around at agencies and there is work around my area and I'm a train ride from London (although I'd rather like to avoid London) so I don't think there is a limitation of work, its just the change. I've worked from home for 5 years with my entire team being hundreds of miles away so am used to lone working but am also used to leading meetings\customer briefings and liason as well as mentoring etc.

I've always been told that I'd get a job anywhere so given my VR offer, its a consideration that's crossed my mind as I won't have a lengthy notice and have 6 months as a backup upfront.

I've worked with contractors for years and some will work 14 hour days and others will claim travel, lunch, stationery! and then leave at 5:30 on the dot however they all delivered quality so the company was happy. All were however bought in for niche projects or with a particular skillset. Even in my support days I was always a jack of all trades however I never struggled for work and was able to pick and choose jobs I wanted rather than take something to feed the dog.

I wouldn't burn bridges as my industry is very much based on references and previous experience. It's very incestuous!

Will read the rest of the comments tonight. Thanks again
In that case go for it. I'd make a point of letting people in the existing business know what you're doing - A lot of people get started with a short contract with their perm employer.

When talking to agencies dont give them all your contacts when they ask for 'references'.
darlodge2 h, 30 m ago

I'm on 3 months however I'm currently reviewing a VR offer which would …I'm on 3 months however I'm currently reviewing a VR offer which would give me a comfortable 6 month buffer and would release me within 3 weeks. I've been looking around at agencies and there is work around my area and I'm a train ride from London (although I'd rather like to avoid London) so I don't think there is a limitation of work, its just the change. I've worked from home for 5 years with my entire team being hundreds of miles away so am used to lone working but am also used to leading meetings\customer briefings and liason as well as mentoring etc.I've always been told that I'd get a job anywhere so given my VR offer, its a consideration that's crossed my mind as I won't have a lengthy notice and have 6 months as a backup upfront.I've worked with contractors for years and some will work 14 hour days and others will claim travel, lunch, stationery! and then leave at 5:30 on the dot however they all delivered quality so the company was happy. All were however bought in for niche projects or with a particular skillset. Even in my support days I was always a jack of all trades however I never struggled for work and was able to pick and choose jobs I wanted rather than take something to feed the dog.I wouldn't burn bridges as my industry is very much based on references and previous experience. It's very incestuous!Will read the rest of the comments tonight. Thanks again


Dont trust the job boards right now, Agencies are putting up fake jobs to get people to contact them to get them to agree to the GDPR changes. There is plenty of work for good engineers, but dont expect the jobs advertised to exist.

Also on your first contract watch out of cheeky agents, after i took my first contract and handed my notice in, the agent said the contract was in doubt as someone was willing to do it cheaper and i needed to reduce my rate. Which having handed my notice in I kind of had to. Long story short, the employer told me that was BS and the agent was being a rat. Computer Futures.
What is the agent's gain from asking you to reduce your rate? They get % commission based on your rate I thought?
Slash29 m ago

What is the agent's gain from asking you to reduce your rate? They get % …What is the agent's gain from asking you to reduce your rate? They get % commission based on your rate I thought?



They get a day rate from the firm then slash your take. B'stards all of them
Slash13 h, 16 m ago

What is the agent's gain from asking you to reduce your rate? They get % …What is the agent's gain from asking you to reduce your rate? They get % commission based on your rate I thought?


Because they had already agreed the day rate with the client
Never trust a recruitment consultant. They have lots of dirty tricks they use, They aren't all bad by any means but have your eyes open.

Avoid IR35 gigs like the plague, unless your SC and can attract a higher rate.

If you do a Mon-Fri commute gig, beware of the impact on family and loved ones.

Get a good accountant and don't extract the urine, unless you want to be forensically examined by HMRCs finest.

You will have to adapt your view of your sickness policy. Unless your actually dying you rock up and show up the permies for the slackers they are.
.
Develop a thick skin when it comes to moaning permies comparing their salary with your day rate, just get your head down and deliver.

Don't be afraid to double up on gigs if working at home, and the opportunity comes along.
mas9917th May

I'm retired but used to be a freelance consultant.The vast majority of …I'm retired but used to be a freelance consultant.The vast majority of contractors are what we used to call BOS Bum on Seat and were in effect just the same as permies but without the supposed long term safety nets that come with normal employment. Those people are why IR35 came in - the employers and contractors took the piss with NI, dividends and tax. I knew people who had done the same job in the same place for over 15 years - they weren't really running businesses in any meaningful sense. They basically reply to ads from recruitment consultants.Oh and most people in this category hate to have all this pointed out.If you will be working like that you will almost certainly be IR35 caught and pushed down the brolly route. Don't take the piss with tax avoidance schemes and expenses - I've seen people broken when hmrc catch up with them.In general the industry has moved towards acceptance of ir35 because the clients arent willing to take the risk, so you may well not get any choice.From what you say about your experience I would say you could be in a different category. I used to be an expert in a couple of niche technology/business areas. I had contacts with the vendors and customers and did work usually on a project or on call basis for a number of firms. I did pre-sales work for hardware and software vendors, design work, consultancy and bits of development.This sort of thing involves maintaining relationships with multiple firms and having concurrent contracts with them. I found work either through vendors or word of mouth or direct approach to clients. I worked through a Ltd either direct or as a sub-contractor. I also employed other people on a subcontract basis for some projects, varying from specialists for specific tech things to generic bods to help with project roll outs.You can make very good money in either scenario.Things to think about:Location - I'm in rural north yorkshire, travel was a pita.Time of life/lefestyle : freelancing can mean lots of time away - if you have family/kids this can be an issue.people skills - are you able to talk to directors/decision makers and advise or are you an implementor of other peoples plans?contacts/networking - how well known are you in the industry? Do you have good relationships with key players? do you go to user groups, conferences etc?I used to be a mod on contractoruk which is probably still the best forum for contractors in the uk https://www.contractoruk.com/Go read stuff and ask questions. There are good guides to ir35, s660 etc and you can see the sort of issues that crop up for people.



I've seen the BOM contractors, we've had a few who had been employed longer than permies, most staff didn't even realise they wore contractors as they went to all the usual staff perks, parties, meals etc.

That's all really helpful, the location and time away from the family is my biggest concern and what's holding me back. A few days a week isn't too bad but I'd always assume I'd be onsite for a customer.

I don't have a big range of contacts really, nor have I made any effort to create a network or attend conferences\seminars. I would hope to be able to get some good references from my current employer though.

Will check out contractoruk thank you
DKLS4 h, 30 m ago

Never trust a recruitment consultant. They have lots of dirty tricks they …Never trust a recruitment consultant. They have lots of dirty tricks they use, They aren't all bad by any means but have your eyes open.Avoid IR35 gigs like the plague, unless your SC and can attract a higher rate.If you do a Mon-Fri commute gig, beware of the impact on family and loved ones.Get a good accountant and don't extract the urine, unless you want to be forensically examined by HMRCs finest.You will have to adapt your view of your sickness policy. Unless your actually dying you rock up and show up the permies for the slackers they are..Develop a thick skin when it comes to moaning permies comparing their salary with your day rate, just get your head down and deliver.Don't be afraid to double up on gigs if working at home, and the opportunity comes along.


A friend is (or was) a rc so I know what you mean, he's shady as hell

I am SC actually which really plays in my favour. I think I could count on one hand how many sick days I've had in 8 years so no problems turning up on a stretcher with a wireless keyboard.

Thanks for the info
darlodge46 m ago

A friend is (or was) a rc so I know what you mean, he's shady as hell I …A friend is (or was) a rc so I know what you mean, he's shady as hell I am SC actually which really plays in my favour. I think I could count on one hand how many sick days I've had in 8 years so no problems turning up on a stretcher with a wireless keyboard.Thanks for the info



You will do well. You sure your a permie, no sick in 8 yrs.

In that case get yourself registered with some of the SC specialist agencies, I would recommend contacting Rachel B at COMXPS agency, she gets some great gigs in.

Don't give any RC your referees unless there is a job offer on the table.
Just a last point, I suspect that now might be quite a good time for it.

There must be shed loads of projects on hold until we know what Brexit will mean. Once there is some certainty I'd expect that a lot of work will be needed in very short order.
jimhuf17th May

Dont trust the job boards right now, Agencies are putting up fake jobs to …Dont trust the job boards right now, Agencies are putting up fake jobs to get people to contact them to get them to agree to the GDPR changes. There is plenty of work for good engineers, but dont expect the jobs advertised to exist. Also on your first contract watch out of cheeky agents, after i took my first contract and handed my notice in, the agent said the contract was in doubt as someone was willing to do it cheaper and i needed to reduce my rate. Which having handed my notice in I kind of had to. Long story short, the employer told me that was BS and the agent was being a rat. Computer Futures.


This....I have been looking for 6 weeks and not had a sniff after my last 6 month project was canned after 6 weeks

Known as CV harvesting as well to impress new clients with! But in my area I am finding it exceedingly slow at the moment.
discobob13 h, 17 m ago

This....I have been looking for 6 weeks and not had a sniff after my last …This....I have been looking for 6 weeks and not had a sniff after my last 6 month project was canned after 6 weeks Known as CV harvesting as well to impress new clients with! But in my area I am finding it exceedingly slow at the moment.


Whats your area and expertise if you dont mind me asking?
Beware of Bobs and their fake jobs. Don’t ‘revert’!!
darlodge22nd May

Whats your area and expertise if you dont mind me asking?



SQL Server - DBA/BI/DEV and windows platform (physical and cloud) - you?

sorry about the late reply
discobob44 m ago

SQL Server - DBA/BI/DEV and windows platform (physical and cloud) - …SQL Server - DBA/BI/DEV and windows platform (physical and cloud) - you?sorry about the late reply


Infrastructure Architecture, Microsoft technologies, little bit of cyber and defence goverance. No cloud here Currently looking at cloud training as I'm years behind the curve
if you are a contractor, what is the situation on getting a mortgage?
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