What not to do as an IT contractor

Four leading recruitment agencies guide contractors through 'what not to do' before, during and upon leaving a temporary IT role in UK Plc.

Before you're on-site – What NOT to do:

Jason D'Silva-Williams, managing consultant at Hudson, heads the agency's London-based Contract IT Recruitment Division:

Tell a recruiter you have not been presented to a role when you have already!

"If your CV arrives into a client from more than one source, it suggests that either you have been unprofessional or the consultant(s) have not done their job properly. The end result is the client gets frustrated and it has been known that a contractor is completely disregarded if they have engaged a number of consultants to represent them.

"When on the rare occasion a rogue recruiter sends your CV without your knowledge, it is the recruiter that loses the reputation, if it is your fault, you lose your reputation with two recruiters and an end client."

Believe all recruiters are the same!

"All recruiters are different. Some are generalists, some are specialist, some are trainees fresh from University and others have been in the industry for more years than they can remember."

"The service you receive can vary broadly between recruiters, remember the good ones as well as the poor ones, tell others about the good one and don't worry about the bad ones, they'll be gone soon."

Lisa Jobson, Director of IT recruitment, Harvey Nash:

Ignore how the agent operates!

"Familiarise yourself with your agency's timesheet, payment process and deadlines to avoid disappointment at the end of the month."

Be complacent!

"Always prepare for the interview, research the organisation and give as much detail of your experience for the role as possible."

Be stubborn with your 'every-occasion' CV!

"Contractors must be flexible regarding tailoring their CVs to a specific job role to enhance the success rate of achieving interviews. Several versions of your adaptable CV should be to-hand."

Jane Harlow, customer services manager at IT recruitment agency Computer People:

Bombard the same agency with your CV!

"Don't send your CV to everybody within the same agency - because it lessens its importance. The agency contacts will think someone else will deal with it, if it is not addressed to anyone in particular."

Apply for whatever grabs you!

"Only apply for jobs you can do - not the ones you want to do."


"Think about the rate for the job - don't pluck a figure from the air because the consultant will have a guide from the client and you will be knocked down to a reasonable rate. As a result your credibility with the consultant will be diminished. Also, don't pretend to be looking for another assignment, just to get rate information - this wastes consultant's time and valuable candidate slots – just ask the question!"

Break your word!

"Let your 'yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no' - don't agree to an interview and then don't turn up as reputations are quickly built or destroyed."

You're now on–site – What NOT to do:

Harvey Nash has over two decades of experience placing IT contractors in innovative companies in the UK & worldwide under its Contractor Care Programme:

Ignore end client rules & regulations!

"Adhere to internal company policies relating to email / phone / diversity as any infringement will result in immediate termination."

Blab about rates!

"Do not discuss rates with other contractors – contact your agent if you are looking for a rate review."

Forget you are a business!

"Keep a copy of your updated CV on a memory stick with you during work hours so you can respond to opportunities immediately. It's also advisable to check personal e-mail accounts during lunch if access is restricted through work hours. You may consider carrying a tie with you to avoid being under dressed for spontaneous interviews."

Hudson has over 70 consultants in England, Scotland & Ireland, with the majority of its IT recruitment business now focused on contracting:

Tell the end client CIO the whole strategy is wrong for their business!

Speak to end clients about rates!

Talk about the amount you get paid to anyone at the end user site!

Use the end client's site, resources and your mobile to secure your next contract!

Clock-watch on-site!

Fake your hours!

Save up your timesheets for more than 4 weeks!

"This can cause a number of issues with both agencies and the end client. The end client receives a very large invoice; the agency has problems collecting the money. Whilst a reputable agency will honour a signed timesheet, some do have clauses that restrict the amount of time you have to present your invoice."

Dilute your core skills!

You're ready to quit – What NOT to do:

Don't honour the contract!

"Leaving a contract before the natural end is bad for your reputation, it also makes the client nervous about the future use of contractors. Remember, the reference you receive from your past assignments have a direct bearing on your future assignments and rates."

Convince end client's permanent staff to 'go' contracting!

Jan Stevens, director of Bromley-based recruitment agency DP Connect, and spokesperson for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's IT & Communications sector group:

Mouth off!

"Contractors should avoid bad mouthing an organisation before leaving. Not only could this jeopardise chances of future employment at that organisation but the world of IT is smaller then you think and people talk."

Forget the taxman!

"A reputable recruitment agency would always recommend that candidates who are leaving always keep a copy of their contract as HM Revenue & Customs may ask for a copy at a later stage."

Be complacent!

"Contractors should not assume they will find another contract quickly and therefore should start updating their CV whilst still in employment, don't take anything for granted."


Wednesday 30th Aug 2006