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How to make the switch from permanent to contractor?

Switch From Permanent To Contractor
Submitted by Harry Double on

As job seekers continue to chase a higher level of flexibility, greater variety in their working patterns, and more autonomy over their careers, the hiring market is witnessing an increasing number of professionals who are requesting to find contracting jobs.

Gone are the days of staying in one job for the duration of your career. Nowadays, a rich and varied CV is often preferred by hiring organisations - contracting offers you the opportunity to gain a plethora of experience and really improve your profile.

Making this switch from permanent to contract is not a decision to be taken lightly; it’s a significant change to your working life, and there are many different factors to weigh up.

Why do people choose to become contract workers?

It’s widely known that contracting offers you more control over the type of projects you work on and where you can carry out your tasks, not to mention the opportunity to earn a higher rate of pay compared to permanent employment.

In other words, you become your boss.

If you do make the switch to contracting, it’s now up to you alone to make the decisions that ultimately shape your career from that point onward.

Having full control over who you work with and which projects you get to work on can be truly invigorating for your career. In project-based and fully remote roles, you have the freedom to choose your "windows of work," allowing total flexibility in your working hours throughout the day. These factors will probably help to give you a clearer picture of what you want to achieve in the long term.

How you can make the transition from permanent to contractor

If you have decided that contracting is the right move for your career, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your transition is successful.

1. Take a moment to plan your next move

Given the buoyancy of the contract recruitment market, there is a wide variety of exciting and intriguing opportunities that may be suitable. Try not to get drawn into going for the first thing you come across; take a bit of time to carefully consider what you want to do next.

  • a. Market research is important

Researching the market is fundamental to success in the contracting industry. Understanding market trends, industry needs, and emerging technologies enables contractors to upskill and customise services to meet specific demands effectively.

Through thorough research, contractors can identify lucrative niches, predict changes in demand, and stay ahead of the competition. Moreover, market research empowers contractors to make informed decisions about pricing strategies, resource allocation, and business development initiatives, ultimately maximising profitability and sustainability.

  • b. Build a personal brand

Leverage online platforms like LinkedIn to showcase your skills and connect with potential clients. Tailor your CV to highlight your skills and experience relevant to contract work. Build a portfolio showcasing your accomplishments and previous projects. Establish what your biggest strengths are, how you can bring value to a business, and what your unique selling point is. Having all this straight in your head will bring clarity to your decision-making.

Remember, every contract is an opportunity for you to build long-term relationships with clients. Exceed expectations, communicate effectively, and prioritise client satisfaction. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful marketing tools.

Lastly, share your success stories through case studies, client testimonials, or even blog posts. Building a personal brand takes time and consistent effort. Be authentic, and passionate, and always add value to the conversation. By establishing yourself as a reliable and knowledgeable expert, you'll attract ideal clients.

2. Building a relationship with a recruiter in your field

In contracting, it is important to build networks. Connect with recruiters and professionals in your field who specialise in contract work. Building a strong rapport with a specialist recruiter in your agency can make things work much better.

Firstly, recruiters can provide information about a wide range of job opportunities in your area that may not be publicly advertised, providing you with exclusive access to potential roles.


Secondly, by building a rapport with a recruiter, you can ensure that they are aware of your qualifications, background, and professional objectives. This will make it easier for them to match you with jobs that fit your goals. Moreover, recruiters may offer insightful data on industry trends, job market, and salary expectations, helping you make informed decisions regarding your career path.

Finally, building a solid connection with a recruiter can lead to long-term benefits, as they may become a trusted partner throughout your career, offering support, guidance, and opportunities for advancement.

3. Be prepared to stay on top of your finances

Perhaps the biggest change when switching from permanent employment to being a contractor is that you will need to manage your finances yourself. Having HR or a payroll department sort it all out for you is a luxury reserved for permanent employees.

Did you know: We have a dedicated contractor experience team that makes the payment process a lot easier for you.

It’s vital, as a contractor, that you have a good grasp of both your income and business expenses.

Be prepared to negotiate your rate, contract terms, and payment schedule confidently. Research industry standards using tools such as salary guides, and know your worth. Don't be afraid to walk away from contracts that don't meet your expectations.

Professionals active in the market must also have a thorough understanding of the legal obligations and tax ramifications associated with contracting. Acquainting yourself with relevant rules and regulations guarantees adherence to regional, state, and federal legal structures, protecting against possible legal conflicts or sanctions.

Additionally, understanding tax obligations enables contractors to manage finances efficiently, accurately report income, and take advantage of available deductions or credits. This knowledge also helps with long-term financial planning, contract negotiations, and business structure decision-making, which promotes long-term success in the contracting industry.

4. Ensure you are well organised

Being your own boss means you are far more responsible for what you’re working on and when. Yes, your employer will have outlined the project details and expectations, but as they’ve hired you as a contractor, they will expect you to get on with the tasks at hand without much direction.

In the world of project management, organisation becomes crucial. A strong documentation system can be your new favourite ally. Every meeting, task, and decision needs to be meticulously recorded and stored in a system. Consider making everything easily searchable, user-friendly, and available so that, even in the face of impending deadlines, locating any information will be easy.

As you progress as a contractor, your project management skills will be tested but ultimately refined!

5. Never stop upskilling

It’s quite natural that, as a new contractor, you become more concerned about making sure you can seamlessly move from one contract role to the next to keep your financial stability intact. In this scenario, you could be in danger of missing out on opportunities to further improve your profile.

Always make time to maintain your skills and keep up-to-date with developments in your industry. Attending events, watching webinars, and reading industry news are invaluable ways to upskill and broaden your understanding of what is going on around you.

Whilst acknowledging the potential for increased earnings from contracting, it is equally important to highlight upskilling in high-demand areas. You should prioritise enhancing your capabilities in the fields that require technical expertise, as these skills are often in short supply but in high demand. For example, proficiency in reporting tools such as Power BI or Co-Pilot is highly sought after in finance roles, while experience with cloud-based technologies is extremely valuable in the tech market.

6. Rethink how you interview

Just as with finding a permanent job, you will need to interview for your contract role. Whether it’s in a face-to-face meeting, a phone call, or a remote interview, you have to make sure you give a strong first impression.


In the interview room, your mission is to showcase how your skills perfectly align with their project goals, illustrating success with your expertise at the helm. But remember, projects aren't done in a bubble—you're joining a team! So, let your personality shine! If you can exude sincere enthusiasm, positive energy, and a willingness to collaborate, that will make you an even more appealing choice.

Explaining your transition from permanent to contracting is key. Whether you're looking for a work-life balance, a taste for industry diversity, or a chance to advance your career, be honest about your reasons. Frame your move as a positive choice aligned with your career goals.

Talk the walk—quantify your impact! Numbers speak volumes. Prepare data points on results, achievements, and how you've driven performance, productivity, efficiencies, revenue, or profit in previous roles and contracts. This information turns into your power bundle, highlighting your accomplishments and making an impact. Consider compiling a portfolio of accomplishments that shows your influence in real terms.

You are not merely filling a role but contributing your special skills and experiences to the table, ready to work with others to accomplish incredible things.

Is contracting the right way forward for you?

More and more companies are looking to the contingent workforce, meaning there is a wide range of opportunities out there across numerous industries. Now is potentially the most exciting time in history for a professional to make the switch from permanent to contractor.

If you are considering the move, or already have and you’re looking for your next assignment, our contracting jobs page contains tips and advice, as well as currently available contract roles.