How to Become an IT Contractor in the UK

IT contractor

Becoming an IT contractor isn’t for everyone. It certainly has its benefits, like higher pay and the freedom of being your own boss. However, there are things that you should consider before deciding whether you want to become an IT contractor permanently. 

What is an IT contractor?

The job of an IT contractor is to deliver skills and knowledge to clients, to do what is best for their business. They apply their skills to other businesses, and this can vary anywhere from working in an IT desk, to being a high-end software developer. IT professionals will have a breadth of knowledge and should be able to work alone.

How do I find IT contractor work?

Finding IT contractor work can sometimes be difficult. Most contractors tend to work via agencies, but you can use contract boards or apply to a recruitment agency directly, or you can always be recommended by someone you know.

How do I apply for a contractor role?

Begin by creating or editing your current CV. Your CV is your selling point. People don’t get to see your face or hear your voice, instead, you have to sell yourself via an A4 document. Recruiters are interested to see what skills you can bring to the table and the experience you already have.

In terms of how your CV should actually be structured, you should have your skills and experience towards the top of the page. Make sure you keep your CV to two pages maximum and making your CV look neat and professional is key. You’re being hired for your skills, so really make sure these come across well on your CV.

You don’t just have to use your CV to apply for a contractor role, there are newer methods of applying for jobs – like LinkedIn. More and more recruiters are trying to find IT contractors using LinkedIn and the posts that individuals make. LinkedIn allows you to show your expertise through posts, for example, you can post if you’ve recently completed an online course or training.

What challenges will an IT contractor face?

Like any job, there are challenges and benefits. Some of the challenges an IT contractor may face include the IR35 rules, which came into practice in the year 2000. These laws were established to make sure that people didn’t leave their permanent jobs, to then return as a contractor or limited company. But, instead of usually acting how those who are self-employed do, instead they act as they were employed still. 

IR35 rules can cause serious problems financially if they are not properly followed or understood, so it’s essential that you read up on them if you think they may affect you in any way. The internet can be your best friend with learning about this kind of topic, so there are lots of free guides and trained professionals you can ask for help.

Using an umbrella company

As just mentioned, IT contractors sometimes find themselves in the bracket of the IR35 rules. So some prefer to work under what’s called an “umbrella company”. Working under an umbrella company blends both employment and contracting. Those dubbed as umbrella companies tend to employ contractors as they would any other employee, with statutory rights and insurance. However, you still get the freedom and versatility you would if you were working independently as an IT contractor. For example, you can still work in different roles and for other companies under the umbrella company.

Working under an umbrella company can certainly save you a lot of hassle, not only with IR35 rules but also with paperwork and stress. Also, some contractors prefer working this way to ensure they prioritize the work that interests or challenges them.

Becoming an IT contractor lets you be in charge of your own future

Any job has challenges, and becoming an IT contractor is no different. However, if you do take the plunge and become an IT professional, then you get to be in charge of your own future and you make your own decisions. By prioritizing networking with different people in the industry, as well as other contractors, you can ensure that you’ll be able to secure work further down the line.