Working as a tech professional in the public sector can be rewarding, but many individuals eventually contemplate a change, seeking more flexibility, autonomy, and potentially higher earnings. Transitioning to IT contracting offers an exciting opportunity to explore new challenges and enjoy the benefits of self-employment. Here, we will guide you through the steps to successfully make the move from the public sector to working as an IT contractor.
Assessing Your Skills and Market Demand
Before embarking on your journey as an IT contractor, it’s crucial to evaluate your skills and assess the demand for your expertise in the contracting market. Research the most sought-after skills and technologies, and identify any gaps in your knowledge that may need to be addressed. Consider obtaining relevant certifications or acquiring new skills to enhance your marketability.
Understanding the UK Contracting Market
Familiarise yourself with the dynamics of the UK contracting market. Research different sectors and industries where IT contractors are in high demand, such as finance, technology, and telecommunications. Keep track of market trends, rates, and contract lengths to make informed decisions regarding your future contracting opportunities.
Setting Up as a Contractor
Establishing yourself as an IT contractor involves several administrative and legal aspects. Here are a few key steps to get started:
- Business Structure: Decide on the most suitable business structure for your contracting endeavours. Options include operating as a sole trader, forming a limited company, or joining an umbrella company. Each structure has its own advantages and implications regarding taxation, liability, and administration.
- Registering with HMRC: Register as self-employed or set up a limited company with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure compliance with tax and legal requirements.
- Business Insurance: Obtain the necessary insurance coverage, such as professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance, to protect yourself and your clients.
Building Your Network
Networking plays a crucial role in the contracting world. Cultivate professional relationships and build a network of contacts within the industry. Attend tech events, conferences, and join online communities to connect with potential clients and fellow contractors. Engage in social media platforms like LinkedIn to expand your professional reach and showcase your expertise.
Preparing Your CV and Online Presence
Update your CV to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments as a tech professional. Tailor it to emphasize your ability to work independently, manage projects, and deliver results. Additionally, optimise your online presence, including your LinkedIn profile and personal website, to present a professional image that reflects your expertise and availability for contracting opportunities.
Finding Contracting Opportunities
Explore various avenues to find IT contracting opportunities. These may include online job boards, recruitment agencies specializing in contract roles, industry-specific platforms, and direct client networking. Utilise your network and attend industry events to tap into the hidden job market and discover unadvertised opportunities.
Contract Negotiation and Compliance
Once you find potential contracting opportunities, focus on contract negotiation. Consider factors such as the length of the contract, payment terms, scope of work, and rates. Ensure that you understand and comply with legal obligations, including IR35 legislation, which determines whether you are considered self-employed or employed for tax purposes.
Continuous Learning and Professional Development
To stay relevant and competitive in the ever-evolving tech industry, invest in continuous learning and professional development. Keep up with the latest technologies, trends, and best practices. Engage in training programmes, attend workshops, and pursue certifications to enhance your skills and increase your marketability.
Transitioning from the public sector to IT contracting in the UK can be a rewarding career move for tech professionals. Embrace the freedom, flexibility, and potential financial rewards that come with being an IT contractor, while continually investing in your professional growth to thrive in this dynamic field. For support getting started on your contracting journey, or for help finding a contracting role, Evolution are here to help. Contact us now.