How to start your career as a self-employed IT contractor
IT contractors have never been in more demand than they are right now, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of making the leap from your IT employee role to self-employment, it may just be the ideal time.
Of course, it’s not just as straightforward as handing in your notice and diving into the abyss – you need to carefully consider how to start your career as a self-employed IT contractor to be sure that it’s the right decision for you and that you’re going about it in a way that maximises your possible business.
The Kingsbridge team has pulled together what you need to think about (and some things you need to do) to get started in the sector.
What are the benefits of being self-employed?
Maybe you’re worried about the lack of guaranteed income, or perhaps you have concerns about giving up employee benefits. Maybe you just need a bit of convincing that being self-employed is right for you. Whatever it is that’s giving you cause to pause, you also need to think of the benefits and there are some seriously big ones.
The main one is that you can work your own hours. Don’t fancy working Fridays? Then don’t. Don’t want to start until after the school run each day? Then start when you need to.
You’re the boss, you set your hours. You also determine how much you’re paid by setting your rate. This will, of course, take some research, with factors such as experience, specialisms and location to take into account, but ultimately you get to decide what your services are worth and charge for them.
The other big bonus is flexibility. No more arguing with colleagues over who gets Christmas off, no more begging your boss for the afternoon so you can get to a dentist appointment.
You can make work fit around your life, not the other way round.
Consider the field you want to work in
IT is a pretty broad sector which houses many roles. You might be a software engineer, you might be a network architect, you might write code. You need to decide which field or fields you want to work in – and which you absolutely don’t.
The more niche or specialised your area of expertise is, the more you can charge, although the flip side of that is if you only work in one niche area then you may have less work or need to travel more widely. This means it’s worth really considering your specialisms and looking into whether or not you should upskill or broaden your horizons.
Speaking of potential upskilling, it’s time to dust off your certificates and diplomas so that you can check your qualifications. These might include:
- Relevant GCSEs and A Levels
- NVQs and GNVQs
- Undergraduate degrees
- Postgraduate degrees
- Professional and technical qualifications and certifications
- Professional accreditations
You’ll want these for your updated CV and, most probably, your website, LinkedIn profile and other places where you’ll advertise your services.
Checking your qualifications will also show you where you have gaps. For instance, has that professional certificate expired? Do you know how to do something but don’t have the accreditation to show it off?
Boost your qualifications and you can also boost your chances of being hired and, subsequently, your rates.
Open a limited company
If you’ve decided that being a self-employed IT contractor is right for you, and you’ve made sure you’re in a good place to get going, the next step is to set up your limited company.
This isn’t as complicated as it sounds, but there are still a lot of boxes you need to tick such as choosing an original name, registering on Companies House, setting up a business bank account, naming your officials, and deciding upon a share structure. Earlier this year, we wrote about all of these things and more. You can read the full article here.
Search for IT contractor roles on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great resource for IT contractors, allowing you to promote your services and skills while expanding your network of potential clients and recruiters. Unfortunately, many contractors use it as little more than an online CV, but it can be so much more with just a tiny bit of effort.
To make the most of your profile as an IT contractor, you need to:
- Complete your profile – LinkedIn’s algorithms love profiles that are complete
- Boost your searchability with key words
- Make connections to increase your network
- Make use of Premium features
- Regularly post useful content
It doesn’t take much time out of your week to use LinkedIn well, but the impact on your business can be huge. We’ve got some great advice on making the most of your LinkedIn account on our blog to give you more ideas.
Get your IT contractor insurance in place
Most end clients and recruiters will require you to hold suitable business insurance to ensure that financial risk is mitigated. The minimum you will usually need is Professional Indemnity cover, Public Liability cover, and Employers’ Liability cover.
Kingsbridge’s contractor insurance package covers all of this and more, giving you peace of mind that whatever your career throws at you, you have the cover that you need in place. Contact our friendly, expert team today or get a quote online.