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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie

    Urbanfox81 has no reputation


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    Default Hello!

    Hi folks,

    I am new around these parts (clearly). I am currently in the land of permie but have been thinking about jumping on the good(!) ship contracting for a while. I have a few t's to cross and some i's to dot, but once done I think it may be something to look at even more seriously, and as is often the case I am here cap in hand asking for advice.

    Firstly a little bit about me;

    I work in IT (vague). I've worked in IT for all of my working life, which is the last 21 years. I have held various roles ranging from the general dogsbody (age 16) to managing a small team of people (age 37) and managing clients on a daily basis. I have experience but no certs to back that up with. During my career I have done tech support roles for specialised software, infrastructure support, general IT support (deskside / working for an MSP) and also overseeing the IT for an international company, which included me running a project to move everything from on-prem into a cloud solution.

    I feel that I am at a point now that I could put my skills to use in various contracting roles, but as you can probably deduce from the aforementioned, I do not specialise in anything. I am not adverse to a little risk and I have some money behind me should I be out of work for a while.

    Questions;

    I aware of some changes taking place to IR35 - is this a factor that should be considered going from Permie to Contract?
    Is the IT market for Contracting too heavily saturated?
    Would not specialising in something be a major disadvantage?
    As a new entry in the Contracting world, is there a day rate that I should aim for?

    Thank you for reading, your time, patience and advice. Apologies for probably going over old ground.

  2. #2

    My post count is Majestic

    northernladuk is always on top

    northernladuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanfox81 View Post
    Hi folks,

    I am new around these parts (clearly). I am currently in the land of permie but have been thinking about jumping on the good(!) ship contracting for a while. I have a few t's to cross and some i's to dot, but once done I think it may be something to look at even more seriously, and as is often the case I am here cap in hand asking for advice.
    Welcome. There's a ton of stuff on here to help the new guys out. There are all the links to the right including a First Timers guide. There is also the google method to search for information that has already been asked, and you can guarantee many things new guys need has been done to death. Go to google and type in <Keyword> site:forums.contractoruk.com

    Always have a go at digging around first before asking general questions which might seem simple but are very difficult to answer completely.

    I work in IT (vague). I've worked in IT for all of my working life, which is the last 21 years. I have held various roles ranging from the general dogsbody (age 16) to managing a small team of people (age 37) and managing clients on a daily basis. I have experience but no certs to back that up with. During my career I have done tech support roles for specialised software, infrastructure support, general IT support (deskside / working for an MSP) and also overseeing the IT for an international company, which included me running a project to move everything from on-prem into a cloud solution.
    Hmmm.. I smell a problem....

    I feel that I am at a point now that I could put my skills to use in various contracting roles, but as you can probably deduce from the aforementioned, I do not specialise in anything. I am not adverse to a little risk and I have some money behind me should I be out of work for a while.
    And it's likely you will be with that skill base. Contracting is about selling highly specialised and demonstrable experience. It's about being the best in your field at the time. It's not impossible to get a gig as a generalist it's going to be very difficult to keep them coming end to end and make a 'career' out of contracting. Same can be said for going for the decent rates as well. You aren't there to do various bits of work, you are there to do what you are a specialist in.
    The problem is getting past the agents. They will be checking keywords in the requirements against your CV. You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be plenty of people out there that have done exactly what the agent wants for decades so the keywords will be all over the place. For you they will only appear in a short section where you did that work. The agent won't care about the rest and you'll go in the bin.


    Questions;

    I aware of some changes taking place to IR35 - is this a factor that should be considered going from Permie to Contract?
    Looks like it's been put off until 2020 now so a bit of breathing space but I don't think so in general. Most of us contract so we can apply our specialist skills in different environments without getting bogged down in the politics and the like so I would expect many of us will continue to do this even if it does hit. Just have to take a cut to the income.
    Is the IT market for Contracting too heavily saturated?
    If you are good no. If you are average or a generalist it's going to be tough. That said nothing has changed in that respect for many years.
    Would not specialising in something be a major disadvantage?
    Quite the opposite. I think you have to be to get the gigs. Depends on what exactly so a discussion point in itself.
    As a new entry in the Contracting world, is there a day rate that I should aim for?
    No idea and we can't tell you that. You know your skills so you just have to go to market and see what's out there. You might have to go for junior roles which will be less or you might be able to bag a gig where they want a generalist of a good rate so we can't help. It will be anything between 200 to 600 a day depending on where in the country etc. You are going to have to put some legwork in yourself here I think.

    Sorry for sounding negative but we live of our skills. If those skills aren't there, by the nature of contracting, you are going to have a bit of a tough time. It's possible, for periods of time, but I wouldn't be comfortable with it.
    'CUK forum personality of 2011 - Winner - Yes really!!!!

  3. #3

    Should post faster

    fatJock is good enough for Jehovah!


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    Hmmm don't want to piss on your bonfire but what NLUK says is true, whilst a generalist has lots of use in an IT department it's not really what businesses are looking for when looking to bring in contract resource.

    Normally their requirement is for someone skilled in a particular area who can hit the ground running and has a track record. That's not to say you can't up-skill before the leap but then you have the experience challenge.

    I'm a PM but have lots of experience in particular sectors - although some would say that project management is a bit of a generalist skill my experience has been that businesses have been after people with a particular and proven history of delivery in their field.

    Good luck whatever you choose but read up on all the newbie stuff here - it was invaluable to me 18 months ago when I made the leap.

  4. #4

    Should post faster

    edison is good enough for Jehovah!


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    In my opinion, the only way you can survive as a longer term generalist contractor is to have a so called 'T-shaped' skills and experience profile. The top part of the T is the breadth of your skills/experience such as multiple sectors, different business areas, different technologies or business processes and different soft skills etc. This can be broad experience but not necessarily deep.

    The vertical part is a specialisation which is where the depth comes in.

    I have no current certifications but I've worked in a dozen industry sectors and around 25 organisations. I've also worked with every business function and have some experience in project management, business analysis, IT planning, financial management, innovation and communications to name a few disciplines.

    However, I specialised in one type of role for the last 9 years of my perm career before I started contracting in the same type of role. In the last three years all that breadth of experience has eventually helped me to move into more general management IT roles. I'm currently a Head of IT which has become a much more generalist role in recent years. As a guide, generalists are more likely to work on the non-technical side.

    It doesn't sound from your description that you have quite the breadth and depth of experience to be a generalist, especially given much of your experience has been on the support side. As others have said, it's likely to be a challenge for you.

    Good luck though.

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