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How To Make The 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 the preference for 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 from, not to mention the opportunity to earn a higher rate of pay compared to permanent employment.

In other words, you become your own boss.

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

Having full control over who you work with and which projects you get to work on can be truly invigorating for your career and 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 are 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.

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.

2. Test out life as a contractor

It’s a big leap to take in your career. The unknown territory of being out on your own can be daunting. Before committing fully to life as a contractor, why not test the water first by taking on a few small projects whilst still working in your permanent role.


If you find that this way of working suits your lifestyle and you feel like it matches your career goals, then gradually ramp it up and take on more interim work. If it doesn’t quite work out for you, then at least you still have your permanent job to get back to!

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 sorting 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.

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.

A to-do list will become your new best friend and your filing system will have to be top notch so that you can easily find exactly what you need, fast.

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 fixated on making sure you are able to seamlessly move from one contract role to the next in order to keep your cash flow consistent. 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 is invaluable to help broaden your understanding of what is going on around you.

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, phone call or remote interview, you have to make sure you give a strong first impression.


Explain how you can make a difference to the project and how your skills are the perfect match to what they want to achieve. It’s also important to convey what you are like as a person - you will likely be working with the interviewer and their team, so showing yourself as a likeable person is vital.

You should also be ready to explain why you have made the move from permanent to contracting. Whatever the reasons are for your switch - more flexibility to your work-life balance or the opportunity to be at the top of your industry by working with a range of organisations - always be honest and transparent.

Is contracting the right way forward for you?

More and more companies are looking to the contingent workforce, meaning there are 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.