More insights into IT Contracting: Recruiters, Interviews and the WORK itself!

As promised, here's the second part of the contracting story. 

Here's the first part if you didn't get a chance to read it:

Insights into IT Contracting

I have been a contractor since November, 2022 and have not really felt a massive shift in the way I approach my day to day work.

We are going to talk about the following topics

  1. Recruiters and notice Period 
  2. Preparation
  3. Accepting the contract
  4. What matters the most?! Work itself!

Recruiters and notice period!

If I am being honest, I was way too over-whelmed by the out pour of recruiters calling me and me being nice to them. After changing my status on Linked In and a few other job portals, I only hoped for a mild response. The calls sort of picked and then went silent. 

Following is a typical conversation I had in early stages:

Rec: Hello, how is it going? I am a specialist recruiter for blah and have an excellent job which you would be perfect for!
Nice me: Brilliant. I am very well, thank you! How about yourself?
Rec: I am great, ta! I see you are in the market for roles?
Nice me: Oh! I indeed am!
Rec: So, why are you thinking of leaving "Your previous company"?
Me: No particular reason really. Just really want to try out contracting. 
Rec: Are you permanent right now?
Me: Yes
Rec: What is your notice period?
Me: 1 month
Rec: Wow, my client wants someone tomorrow! What is your current salary BTW?
Me: It is £250K+bonus obviously!
Rec: Cool! So you would be happy with a day rate of £1000 right?
Me: I was hoping for something around £1500
Rec: Is that inside or outside?
Me: Outside
Rec: Mate, this is your first time contracting. You will be lucky to get £500 outside!
Me: Shall we have a look at the role
Rec: Sure, I will send you the role on an email in 5 minutes

Which seldom happens!

After I opened the flood gates, I got about 25 calls from such recruiters and only 1 materialised in an actual interview. Rest 24 were pretty much information gathering on the role I am leaving. There was also a trend of talking about random stuff which felt like a colossal waste of time!

This was me after a week of being tossed around by recruiters:

Rec: Hello, how is it going? I am a specialist recruiter for blah and have an excellent job which you would be perfect for!
Nice me: Brilliant. How much does it pay?
Rec: They are happy to pay the right rates for the right candidate
Nice me: My minimum is £500 pd outside and £700 pd inside. Can you tell me who they are?
Rec: Sure. I see you are a perm employee right now. How long have you been looking for contracts?
Me: Mate, I would love to chit chat and talk everything about my current job once you get me that contract. Until then shall we stick to business please. Pop me the job description and what you need off me into my mail box ASAP.
Rec: Sure!

At this point, you have eliminated day dreaming recruiters who don't have an actual contract for you. But the one's who have a contract will take you way more seriously! 

Which is exactly what happened with me after a couple of weeks. As soon as I changed my tone, I saw a shift in how I was perceived which led to interviews and then a contract that ticked all my boxes.

Bottom line is, recruiters are your dearest friends who have only their own best interest at heart. You as a candidate have to ensure their and your interests align as soon as possible! 😃


I am not going to delve into how to prepare for an interview but more into how I found interviewing for contracting roles different.

For starters, I had 4 interviews and was only offered one position. I will be candid on how I failed on the other interviews and how it worked out. 

One of my colleagues, Simon, explains a very critical point using a very simple scenario. You have 2 sets of customer service offerings, Bronze and Gold. Gold being the expensive one, obviously 🤔 He said, it is the bronze customers who want the most and you end up working harder to keep them as well, while the gold customers have fewer queries and rarely exercise their services. 

Same goes for interview, if your interviewer is asking you way too in-depth questions testing your memory then you will likely struggle with your common sense. People who see your worth are likely to gauge your aptitude to problem solving. In my personal experience engineers who can solve problems and can get along alright are priceless. 

In one of the roles, the interviewer literally had a list of 25 super technical questions which I was being scored on. Some of these technical questions were truly pointless in comparison to the role. Questions where I'm being asked about un-managed code in C# where the role itself is for Web API developer. In another interview I was asked how would I architect something when clearly the job was only paying for a junior developer. It's all well to answer questions however one has to remember that the questions being asked reflect the job that you will do. I think it's very important to ensure that you sign up for a contract that you think you will excel at. As a contractor your service is your product and the better you advertise it the better the results will be.

One thing to remember is never to discuss your rate with the interviewer. This is because quite often they don't remember how much they agreed with the recruiter and it may put off the interview or sour the conversation.

In one of the interviews there were three rounds and I passed 2 of them. In the final round, the interview was as vague as it gets and I didn't get any solid reason on why I didn't get the role. This is something I would like to point out, in permanent interviewing positions a lot of times people don't get any response however in contacting world it's almost always. You can't expect to get a feedback on how you did in the interview purely because it's a fast pace environment. A lot of times companies look for contractors to fill in positions quickly. So being ready for an interview is a great idea!

Accepting the contract

I was oblivious to the fact that a contract actually means a piece of paper. You have to read that contract and ensure every single word written there does not contradict with your understanding of what you're signing up for. I read my contract three times with a highlighter. Thankfully there was nothing in my contract that jumped out. However, it was only after signing in agreeing to the contract and giving giving my notice that I found a few floors in it. Now this was my first contract and have likelihood was I wasn't going to be paid for a month. So that got me rather worried! That said, things worked out in the end with my employer and I was inside IR35, which helped to a degree. 

Another thing that you need to look for is who your payment processor will be if you are inside IR35. So essentially, your employer pays the recruiter, your recruiter pays your payment processor and your payment processor pays you. Bottom line is, as long as you're getting what you want monthly you should not care who keeps what. On paper your payment processor will be your employer and your employment contract is with them. I know it is tricky to understand but believe me this is the easy way round.

You also would like to check your frequency of payment. It can either be weekly or monthly. I have chosen weekly but I know a few of my colleagues who want to get paid monthly to keep the cash flow in check.

Work itself

I think I will boil this down to two things:

  1. Are you happy with how much money you're getting?
  2. Is the work the correct amount of challenge?

In my opinion, if these two points are addressed then one has achieved a lot of things that a job should provide. Everything else is really secondary!

In terms of what I have found, people don't change and the people you work with don't change either. As a contractor, you have to bring the best out of yourself and that for me was just amazing. I have faced some really strong challenges in the past few years and also have learned an incredible amount of stuff. I find contacting no different to a permanent job apart from the fact that I'm getting paid almost time and 1/2.

I would strongly recommend everyone to try out contracting at least once in their careers. You will realise that the best wash version of you comes out shining when you are really under pressure.

Go contractors! 🤑