The pull of contracting
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    Nervous Newbie

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    Arrow The pull of contracting

    Evening,

    I'm not sure what it is about contracting, but the idea of doing it keeps dragging me back. The possibility of more money is great, but there's something about the freedom I love the idea of. A technical gun for hire, so to speak.

    So about 2 and a half years go, I read a bit and posted on here about my fancy job title and lack of experience and (rightly, I feel), I chose to get more experience in my field as a permie. The idea of taking the leap has come back to me over the last few months though, so here I am.

    As a permie, I'm a senior line engineer who focuses mostly on a variety of infrastructure projects for a MSP, which means I do lots of stuff, for lots of people, in lots of different environments. Hopefully something that fits in nicely with contracting!

    My question is, from a market perspective, is the timing right? I've read a lot about the uncertainty of Brexit and IR35 changes, but are the contracting waters ever settled? Is there ever a right time?

    I live in the west country and my salary (comparable to similar permie roles) is pretty low, so the money does appeal somewhat! I'm also happy to travel around. I have a family here, but I'm happy to work anywhere in the UK really and travel back occationally, obviously accounting for the extra accomodation/travel outgoings.

    I've got a bit of a warchest, the missus works full time, I've seen some 6 month contracts around.. So ultimately, what's stopping me from getting an accountant, getting a Ltd fired up and jumping in now?

    Cheers,

    Sam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam3773 View Post
    Evening,

    I'm not sure what it is about contracting, but the idea of doing it keeps dragging me back. The possibility of more money is great, but there's something about the freedom I love the idea of. A technical gun for hire, so to speak.
    Ah these head in the clouds newbies. Having to trek up and down the country to get work isn't exactly freedom and the idea of being a technical gun for hire will quickly evaporate (if that idea should ever exist in the first place)

    So about 2 and a half years go, I read a bit and posted on here about my fancy job title and lack of experience and (rightly, I feel), I chose to get more experience in my field as a permie. The idea of taking the leap has come back to me over the last few months though, so here I am.
    I'd probably have given the same advice if you came on and said you've got 4 years experience but it's a step in the right direction. Not sure if that's a starter for what you do, but then what you put below doesn't tell me what you do really.

    As a permie, I'm a senior line engineer who focuses mostly on a variety of infrastructure projects for a MSP, which means I do lots of stuff, for lots of people, in lots of different environments. Hopefully something that fits in nicely with contracting!
    Arghh. I hate the word senior in titles. You've got 4 years under your belt and your senior? Really?
    Not sure what lots of stuff for lots of people in different environments means tbh. Sounds a bit jack of all master of none. Many of us tend to do a pretty small scope of work in fairly similar environments hence being specialists providing skills the client won't need. Dunno much about infrastructure work so maybe that level of flexibility is a bonus. Dunno on that one.

    My question is, from a market perspective, is the timing right? I've read a lot about the uncertainty of Brexit and IR35 changes, but are the contracting waters ever settled? Is there ever a right time?
    Not really but it's getting worse and worse. Some say contracting as we know it won't be around in the next 3 to 7 years. If HMRC hit the private sector like the public then it's pretty much game over for most.

    I live in the west country and my salary (comparable to similar permie roles) is pretty low, so the money does appeal somewhat! I'm also happy to travel around. I have a family here, but I'm happy to work anywhere in the UK really and travel back occationally, obviously accounting for the extra accomodation/travel outgoings.
    Why is your salary low in comparison? That might be an indicator along the lines of the 'senior' comment. They've either given you a title instead of the right wage or you aren't quite as experienced as you need to be for the permie roles you are looking at. You'd have to do some research in to that but it's a bit of a flag. Could be just you are working for a Public Sector or bad paying client...

    I've got a bit of a warchest, the missus works full time, I've seen some 6 month contracts around.. So ultimately, what's stopping me from getting an accountant, getting a Ltd fired up and jumping in now?

    Cheers,

    Sam.
    Can your missus support your lifestyle and outgoings if you have no income? We rarely count our partners as warchest. It's the ability to keep yourself going. If she can single handedly keep you in the black for 3 to 6 months it's a good place to be though.

    Nothing is stopping you. If you've done the research and you are absolutely sure without a shadow of a doubt there are contracts on jobserve and the like that are exactly what you do, and I mean exactly, with plenty of experience to back it up then it should be a problem. If the gigs ask for experience doing X and you've only done it once in the past and the rest have been something else you could be struggling.

    If there are plenty of those gigs going that can keep you in gigs end to end then go for it. TBH if it all falls apart you can go back to permie in a role with a better rate of pay equivalent to the market value. Just out of interest, why haven't you sacked the job off and gone for one of those in the meantime?
    Last edited by northernladuk; 4th September 2017 at 22:43.
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernladuk View Post
    We rarely count our partners as warchest.
    Unless you're one of Brillo's exes.

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    Actually reading your old post makes things a little clearer. You work at a college so there is the PS low pay element I suspected. Hopefully some others will post but I'm still not a fan of this...

    From there I was poached by a local college to go operate their second line support desk. Since being there (just over 8 months), I'm now the lead project engineer and infrastructure manager.
    From second line to Infrastructure Manager in 3 years? But you say you are a Senior Line Engineer. How does that fit in with what you've said. Sounds like you've had a lot of titles in 4 years but not much time to consolidate your experience, and just in a college. I hope someone with infrastructure experience comes on and helps but that doesn't sound like solid contracting background. Just a point as well, contractors with a heavy dose of PS can find it difficult to break in to the private sector which could also be a problem for you.

    Personally I'd like to see you sack the college off and get in to some big private company to get an idea of that side of it. I'd be willing to guess the size, pressure, focus etc will be quite an eye opener compared to a college. I also think you'd do well to progress in to more senior roles working with big teams, maybe towards PM, Architect roles and then jump and earn proper cash. That's my view though.

    Sorry to be Mr Negative but if you can overcome the bad stuff the rest will be plain sailing. If you go in unprepared it's going to be very painful to fix it retrospectively.
    Last edited by northernladuk; 4th September 2017 at 22:53.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesbrown View Post
    Unless you're one of Brillo's exes.
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    I suggest you get a job with a private sector client first before going contracting.

    The reason for this is agents and lots of clients only look at what you have done before. So if you have only worked in one market - education - then you have limited who you can work for.

    Ideally as a contractor a consulting role could help you. You will quickly learn if placed on client sites how you need to operate.

    Btw consultancies vary a lot. Some place you on a variety of projects and you have to go round the country, while others place you on one project that lasts for decades.
    "You’re just a bad memory who doesn’t know when to go away" JR

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    Thanks for the replies. Helpful to get an honest view of things.

    Apologies, I'm not at the college and haven't been since I last ventured on here. About a week after that post, I went back to work at a Managed Service Provider, hence the alteration of title.

    This is why I thought it might tie in nicely with contracting. Currently I plan and implement software, hardware, network, cloud, etc. Projects for all our clients, kind of like a consultancy. This has exposed me in a small way to larger organisations and I've just finished a 3 month stint in London changing network switches for a large bank.

    As you say though, this does unfortunately make me a bit of a jack of all trades!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam3773 View Post
    Thanks for the replies. Helpful to get an honest view of things.

    Apologies, I'm not at the college and haven't been since I last ventured on here. About a week after that post, I went back to work at a Managed Service Provider, hence the alteration of title.

    This is why I thought it might tie in nicely with contracting. Currently I plan and implement software, hardware, network, cloud, etc. Projects for all our clients, kind of like a consultancy. This has exposed me in a small way to larger organisations and I've just finished a 3 month stint in London changing network switches for a large bank.

    As you say though, this does unfortunately make me a bit of a jack of all trades!
    As I keep saying, e get hired for what we've delivered, not what we can deliver. Also, we get hired into usually very specific environments; building Linux servers and Cisco networks is no good for a client with Windoze (or even Linux) and Juniper. Part of that is down to the agencies, of course, but it remains a potential barrier. Multiple small projects aren't all that helpful either when you're up against people who have built out datacentres...

    As has been said, go look very critically at how many jobs are advertised with precisely your recent experience. If they are there then go for it. If they aren't then you have some learning to do.
    Blog? What blog...?

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    I love spending time giving advice to people who ask questions and the divulge key information later on in the posts. That said, that information doesn't really change anything.
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    More time posting than coding

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    Quote Originally Posted by malvolio View Post
    building Linux servers and Cisco networks is no good for a client with Windoze (or even Linux) and Juniper
    I was positively hunted down by a Windows shop when most of my experience was on Linux - they're starting to see the light (and M$ are facilitating it)

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