"Contract Scotland helped me make the move from working in a permanent position to a freelance role, providing the right support and advice every step of the way."
Martin Burnett, freelance Site Engineer.
I hear time and time again from candidates in permanent positions: "I've thought about going freelance in the past, but I wasn't sure where to start." Sound familiar? While many express an interest, more often than not, they decide against it. Why? A lack of information or guidance on where to start.
We must acknowledge the unpredictable circumstances of today's market, but don't let that put you off. There is still a high demand for freelance resource within the construction industry across all sectors, and if you're toying with the idea of a freelance career, then you have come to the right place.
So, let's look at this objectively:
Flexibility: YOU can choose where you want to work, how long you wish to work for and take as much time off as you need. If you're tired of striving to achieve that elusive work-life balance, then this could be the option for you.
Experience – Many people believe that by working freelance, you'll do little to help your career development. This is not true; in fact, you're likely to find the opportunity to work with different contractors and build up a varied portfolio of work across different sectors of the industry.
Financial: There's no denying the economic benefits of working as a freelancer. You can choose a tax payment method that suits you with the option to negotiate rates and expenses. Working on an hourly rate means you receive payment for every hour you spend working on site, so say goodbye to all those long overtime hours for which you were never financially rewarded! Also, if there is a requirement to work evenings/weekends, you may be able to negotiate an uplift to your rate.
Continuity (pro) – Opportunities to establish useful connections via your freelance contracts occur the longer you are there. It's an excellent way to build your brand and get your name out there when sourcing future work.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Notice Period: A one-week notice period is standard in the freelance industry for both the employer to the candidate and the candidate to the employer. The freelance market can move quickly; however, not everyone feels comfortable with having such a short notice period, and this extra pressure can sometimes take its toll.
Continuity (con) – The rise and fall of individual job disciplines and poor market conditions can all have an impact on a company's need for freelance resource. Contract Scotland always aim to keep every freelance candidate in continuous work; however, it's often hard to predict where and when the next freelance contract may arise.
Additional expenses: You might take for granted the costs an employer covers, but as a freelancer, you are responsible for the day to day running of your work. For example:
Site qualifications - these must be current and updated/paid for regularly.
Personal vehicle – You'd be considered lucky to secure a freelance contract that provides you with a company car/van, as in most cases, a freelancer must use their own vehicle and cover any related expenses.
Accountancy fees (limited company only) – You may need to think about hiring a professional to manage your finances/tax contributions.
The Freelancer That's Always in Work
You might have worked with a freelance candidate or heard of your friend's mate who's been a freelancer for years and somehow has always managed to stay in work. I know what you're thinking; "How do they manage that?" I hear what you're saying, but I'm here to tell you that these guys are not a myth! Contract Scotland has hundreds of freelancers working with our client's week to week. To give you an example, we currently supply a Site Engineer who has sourced freelance contracts via us for over 15 years, and throughout numerous uncertain market times, he's still managing to make it work.
So, what do you need to become that desirable freelancer who always has the next contract lined up?
Location, location, location: We talk about it a lot, but the more open you are to work in remote areas, the more of a desirable candidate you become to clients. Essentially, you may create a work opportunity for yourself if you are willing to work in a location where the client's permanent staff won't.
Experience: There may be a need for a freelance candidate on a project to help resolve issues, push a job on, or step in quickly to cover for a permanent member of staff. This can be pretty daunting, as you may not always get a full handover or time to establish yourself within the team, but you must be cool, calm and confident. "Go in and hit the ground running" is a phrase we often use here at Contract Scotland, so having a fair amount of experience under your belt can be a massive help.
Keep yourself in check – Organisation is key. After all, you are responsible for souring work, so keep your CV up to date, have your site qualifications ready to go and be proactive in your attitude. Using freelance candidates is sometimes considered a luxury to a client, so if you are there to do a specific job, make sure you complete it to the specification, time frame and budget provided. You never know, the client might be so impressed that they extend your contract for longer than you initially discussed.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Q. Can I still work as a freelance candidate after the new changes in legislation to IR35?
A. This topic is starting to come up more regularly as we begin to approach the end of the current tax year. Contract Scotland will have more to come on this; however, I think it's safe to say that it's unlikely the freelance market will come to a grinding halt. Don't panic, it's not all doom and gloom but stay tuned – more to follow.
Q. How often will I be paid?
A. Contract Scotland has an in-house payroll team, meaning you have dedicated members of staff working to ensure you receive payment on time and without any issues. We operate an online timesheet system to make this process as simple as possible for both you and the client. On the basis that you and your client sign a weekly timesheet, payment will be made each Friday of your contract without fail.
Q. What type of hourly/day rate would I receive?
A. This will vary depending on the role you are looking for. The great thing about being freelance is that rates are often negotiable, and several factors could impact this, such as location, sector, responsibilities of the role.
Interested In Discussing Further?
If you like the sound of what you've read or you have any more questions, give us a call. Contract Scotland provide a confidential service, and we never send your CV to a client without your express permission, so you know that you're in complete control of securing your next job, with our help of course!