Hi, I just got offered my first contract. I'm scared Hi, I just got offered my first contract. I'm scared
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    Default Hi, I just got offered my first contract. I'm scared

    Hello!

    Talk about last minute, I've always been a full time employee, never contracted and I got laid off a few months back. After putting the feelers out, I (Today!) got offered a two month contract starting on monday.

    Despite the guides, I'm still sat here confused, and now signed up to an umbrella corporation (nasa consultancy) who will handle the tax, payroll, expenses and insurance side of things, at least, I think that's what they do.... yes, yes they do...

    In short, I'm scared. I've never done this before, I'm confused as anything about this, but excited at the same time. Of course two months isn't that long, and I'm wondering how on earth I end up looking for roles at the end of it, what I can and can't claim for, etiquette, what to expect.... it's all a new and very confusing world right now, but any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Last edited by photomile; 23rd October 2011 at 10:02.

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    First of all - congratulations

    I'm sure you are nervous, but please try not to worry. Think about walking in on Monday with a positive, can-do attitude. You are probably there to help them solve a problem, using your valuable (and hopefully expensive ) experience.

    Try and get along with people and be friendly, don't discuss money and make sure you get your timesheet signed at the end of every week/month(check your payment schedule carefully to make sure you don't miss a deadline). Enter your timesheets with the umbrella co too.

    You'll be able to claim travelling expenses via your umbrella co. Genuine expenses will be offset against tax. Check with them for frequency etc, but you'll have to supply receipts for rail travel, hotels or petrol etc., so make sure you keep them. You'll also be able to claim for some other stuff.

    Don't worry about what happens at the end of the contract for now. Concentrate on playing yourself in to a new way of working and identifying upcoming work that they may want to keep you on for. Do be subtle about it though - I don't like the hard sell and some clients don't either. Make 'em like you first
    About two or three weeks before the end update your cv and put it on Jobswerve/Monster etc etc. I've stopped putting on the name of the co and just put "current client" (or similar) to discourage agents from trying to sell in to your client's co.

    I'm sure others will have other/differing advice but would like to wish you all the best in your new venture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomile View Post
    Hello!

    Talk about last minute, I've always been a full time employee, never contracted and I got laid off last month. After putting the feelers out, I (Today!) got offered a two month contract starting on monday.

    Despite the guides, I'm still sat here confused, and now signed up to an umbrella corporation (nasa consultancy) who will handle the tax, payroll, expenses and insurance side of things, at least, I think that's what they do.... yes, yes they do...

    In short, I'm scared. I've never done this before, I'm confused as anything about this, but excited at the same time. Of course two months isn't that long, and I'm wondering how on earth I end up looking for roles at the end of it, what I can and can't claim for, etiquette, what to expect.... it's all a new and very confusing world right now, but any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Good luck.I still remember my first one. I bricked it.

    Umbrella is the way to go. Play it by ear. Be has helpful as you can and try and become invaluable. You have nothing to lose.

    It's the second one which is the challenge. As 1/2 of contractors fall into it because of lay off or walk out (see previous CUK polls for stats) it can be daunting and you can feel lucky that you got the first one (I remember I did). But skills, being helpful & professional, adding value & flexibility will stand you in good stead to secure a second, and as Zippy says, watch the likes of Jobserve.
    What happens in General, stays in General.
    You know what they say about assumptions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomile View Post
    In short, I'm scared.
    I've only just joined this site and been contracting 7+ years and every contract brings new challenges and never stop learning. You'll find a wealth of excellent advice here. It's natural to be slightly anxious, however using the duck analogy if you're flapping inside don't show it on the outside (you'll be expected to hit the ground running) and IMO 'go with the flow' and don't upset the permies but don't be too friendly either (common sense I guess). Bon chance.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomile View Post
    Talk about last minute, I've always been a full time employee, never contracted and I got laid off last month. After putting the feelers out, I (Today!) got offered a two month contract starting on monday.
    Go for it, you'll be fine. Be flexible and willing. Be prepared for a certain amount of discrimination against contractors, some places will treat you just like anyone else working on site, others will do little things that will annoy you like making you sign in at reception every day and wait till someone comes down to escort you.

    Hopefully you are making enough money to be able to grin and bear it.

    Read the umbrella's expenses guide from cover to cover and make sure you claim for everything you can.

    I 2nd Zippy's comments about timesheets. It's vital that you do this or you won't get paid. For the first few it's worth calling up the umbrella company to make sure you've done it right and you're going to get paid as expected.

    Think about how you will start saving some money to cover for unemployment, sickness, holiday etc. You will want to aim for at least 6 months of living expenses in the bank if you are going to stick with this contracting game.

    Good luck!

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    Thanks all for the kind words. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm still rather nervous.

    There's a few things that confuse me of course, like my umbrella company seems to be a bit weird about submitting expense claims unless it's your second job, although there's some things in there that contradict that. Even they can't give me a straight answer (lessons for next time I guess) So I'll be turning up with my phone, and a screwdriver, noting every single thing I do.

    The other thing that confuses me is references? How exactly could I get a reference? From the agency, the people I'm doing the job for... or the umbrella company that I'm now "employed" by?

    More to that (We touched on it briefly earlier), CV's and LinkedIn... do I put my employer as the umbrella corp with contracts underneath? It's all rather confusing but I'm asking as I understand reputation does you far more favours than flat out experience, and at the end of the day, I'd like to keep contracting!

    Hopefully during the last few weeks of the contract I'll be able to look for more work and, as said, fall into another contract (although, does that mean I have to leave the umbrella corporation until I do find another job? or do I only pay them when I have a contract?)

    So confusing, it's probably already answered, but hopefully all will become clear!

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    You should be able to submit expenses from day 1 of your contract (I think umbrellas process them monthly though?). If in doubt call the brolly and ask them again (e.g. I spent £100 on train fares so how do I claim this on my expenses).. They may simply mean that you can't claim expenses until you have some income to offset them against.

    References - you'll find a wealth of information on here, and I think it's fair to say that the consensus is that they are sales leads. I've found that half the time nobody cares. Not sure if your umbrella would provide them. Provide the details of HR dept of your last permie co and the hiring manager of your new co (if they agree - if not return here for advice).

    Be careful with Linkedin. I'd just put some generic stuff about your experience and keep the details of current clientco confidential. Don't link to agents (you'll get lots of requests).
    The umbrella may be your "employer" but they are not really, so I'd just put past client co names on there.

    No, you don't have to leave the umbrella co when your contract finishes.
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    Thanks, I'll give the umbrella company a quick call, a few things don't make sense on there about expenses, and they are one of these, 'pay by week' umbrella co's so I need to find out if I'm paying that fee even if there's no work. The frustrating thing is that the last company I was with, well let's just say we split on some very bad terms, it was a layoff, but the company didn't handle it very well! So it's a chief concern for me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomile View Post
    Thanks all for the kind words. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm still rather nervous.

    There's a few things that confuse me of course, like my umbrella company seems to be a bit weird about submitting expense claims
    This is utter nonsense re: expenses. IMO you need to get grips with this contracting game pretty sharpish. Bon chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomile View Post
    I'll be turning up with my phone, and a screwdriver
    What kind of gig is this?
    Jez, I've had enough.

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