As the tech talent shortage continues, Jimmy Sheehan of Contracting Plus shares his best advice for IT contractors in demand.
The demand for experienced IT contractors is on the rise as the job market continues to heat up and a growing number of employers report critical skills shortages.
With the latest CSO workforce survey Showing a 9.8% increase in employment in the year to the end of September, the demand for critical positions for the company is increasing.
Technology contractors with the most sought-after skills in areas such as cybersecurity, data science and analytics, DevOps engineering, and cloud architecture are in particularly high demand right now.
All of these skills are necessary for employers in Ireland and elsewhere, and they are needed right now. A staggering 91% of Irish employers experienced hiring challenges last year, according to a survey published in December by Hays.
The most recent figures we have on Contracting Plus show a 6% year-on-year increase in the number of technology contractors signing up for our services. This is not at all surprising, because these highly skilled professionals can add immediate value and are generally on top of their game.
They are often in the middle or more of their career and have built up a bank of knowledge, experience and expertise that is very attractive to companies. Because of this, these contractors generally demand high salaries.
Last year, Contracting Plus partnered with Trinity Business School to publish The economics of the Ireland project, a report on the Irish market to focus solely on highly skilled independent professional contractors.
We found that technology contractors earned an average daily rate of € 529, their average age is 48, and their contracts last, on average, 14 months. More than a third (37 percent) have a master’s degree and are very confident about their future.
Even in May 2021, before the job market began its recovery, 87% told us that their expertise was in demand and 55% agreed that it would be easy for them to find another contract. 71% said they expected the recruitment industry to grow in the next three to five years.
All of this bodes well for tech professionals with in-demand skills who might be considering a career in recruiting in 2022.
However, it is very important to make sure you are laying the groundwork before you make the leap.
Be clear about your goals
One of the biggest benefits of hiring tech professionals is the potential to develop a specific skill set faster than you could in a full-time job.
You can work in different companies and with a greater variety of senior professionals and experts, gaining experience and knowledge more quickly than you would expect in an internal promotion at the discretion of a boss or manager.
This type of autonomy can be very attractive, but, without the structure of a permanent role, it is important to think carefully about your goals and establish a roadmap to stay on track.
Are you hiring because you want to ‘supercharge’ your skill set? Need to save a lump sum quickly, for travel, for example, or for a down payment on a mortgage?
How long do you want to do this? Where do you see yourself in five years? If you’re in it for the long haul, what kind of financial planning should you consider?
Having a clear plan up front will help you better navigate this new way of working, increasing your chances of success for the duration of your contracting career.
Lean on your network
I’m talking about people in your work life who know you and what you can do. Don’t be afraid to reach out to tell them who will be available and what kinds of contract roles and projects interest you.
We surveyed 1,458 respondents for Ireland’s Project Economy, and 38% said they were relying on their own initiative to find a new job. 21% trust third parties, such as a recruitment agency, and most use a combination of both.
This really shows the importance of networking for freelancers. Those who are moving into their industry circle and connecting with their peers and contract recruiting companies will find it easier to move into new roles.
I would also really recommend making the effort to build your own network of trusted peers – other IT contractors with the same or related skills that you can call on for help if you face a particular challenge or need to step away from a project for a while. . time for whatever reason.
This will help ensure that you don’t disappoint your customers, helping you build a solid reputation over time.
In the same way, be sure to factor in the unknowns when agreeing to the terms of a contract with any new customer. The better prepared both parties are for all eventualities, the less likely you are to face project cost overruns or cost disputes.
Plan ahead and stay on top of management
While matching wages are generally higher upon hire, you will not be eligible for vacation or sick pay contributions and some welfare payments will not apply.
It’s important to factor all of this into your work schedule and budget planning, so you can forecast your earnings as accurately as possible and be prepared for whatever happens.
Research public liability, employer liability, and professional’s compensation insurance as soon as possible. Income protection in particular could provide that all-important safety net in case you are unable to work for any reason.
No matter how busy you are, take the time to keep correct records so that you can claim the business-related expenses that you are entitled to.
Instead of operating as a sole proprietorship, consider operating under an umbrella company or establishing your own limited company. This will give you much better legal protection, and multiple clients and different sources of income can be more easily managed under a limited partnership or umbrella structure.
A good accountant or specialized service provider will be able to manage income and payroll, if applicable, for you, as well as VAT payment and tax obligations.
This will also help you optimize your income and build wealth later through proper pension planning.
For jimmy sheehan
Jimmy Sheehan is Managing Director of Contracting Plus, a specialist service provider for professional contractors offering business start-up, account management, billing, payroll, tax and pension advisory services.
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