Leveraging LinkedIn to find a substitute to help beat IR35

Once. Twice. Even three times.

That’s how often contractors have received the same golden nugget of wisdom to address Budget 2018 scheduling private sector IR35 reform for 2020.

The nugget has Substitution as its coating. And the easiest way to make it shine is by leveraging an area I specialise in -- LinkedIn, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Business as Usual

As alluded to, there is some good news -- that nothing really changes until April 2020. This means there’s plenty of time for things to change between now and then. Who knows? Maybe aliens might abduct our anti-small business politicians, and replace them with people who actually appreciate the value that our flexible workforce and smallest businesses contribute to the economy?!

Make Hay

It seems to me that the best plan in the meantime is to make hay while the sun is still shining.

But there are also some ‘backside-covering’ strategies that are worth considering in the meantime. These are vital because the Budget signalled that clients, not contractors, will decide contractors’ IR35 status from April 2020. Substitution therefore looks likely to come into its own as a means to show clients, from the outset, an outside IR35 position.


It has long-been established by a number of IR35 experts (and the courts) that having a ‘substitute’ is one of the key acid tests of being a bona-fide contractor. This is going to be the case even more so now that the onus will be on contractors to demonstrate to status decision-making clients that they are a genuine business, a hallmark of which is having an able consultant who can substitute in their place. So how should you go about sourcing a trained, skilled, able substitute who you will administer and pay? One word -- LinkedIn.

A Huge Database

As you probably know, LinkedIn is a database of 560 million professionals, so if I was looking for any type of professional, for any reason whatsoever, I would be doing my searching on LinkedIn.

I’ve written many articles about the importance of networking and building a network of professionals that support your business objectives -- this might be recruiters, clients, suppliers or partners. But in this case, you’re after substitutes.


Slowly and carefully building your network has never been more important and building relationships with fellow contractors who might be able to ‘sub’ for you would seem like a smart move.

The way to do this is pretty simple, but having the ‘Business Premium’ account will make life even simpler -- it’s £58 a month, but it will unlock some very powerful search functionality that will help you find professional people who are appropriate substitutes.

Once you have the advanced search features, you can search on a plethora of different filters such as geography, job title, skills, keywords and industry.

Making Business Premium work for you (cont.)

Then, once you have chosen your search criteria, you simply hit the search button and up pops a list of people who fit that criteria.

Their profiles, information and contact details are there right before your eyes and you can simply send them a connection request with a personalised message. In that message, come straight to the point. But this article, along with those by IR35 status experts extolling the virtues of getting ‘subbed up’ ahead of April 2020, will potentially do the explaining for you!

Remember, over time, you can build your network with precision targeted professionals and thereafter, build proper relationships with them by having either a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting. This process would be the exact same process that you would adopt to build your network of prospects / clients or even agencies.

For more information you can get a Free CV and LinkedIn review here. 

ContractorUK has partnered with the UK's leading authority on contractor CVs to provide a FREE review of your CV and LinkedIn profile. Contact The CV & Interview Advisors and one of their team will get back to you to discuss if your CV and LinkedIn profile matches up with industry best practice.

Wednesday 13th Mar 2019
Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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