contract work freelancers

It’s the start to a volatile year on the political front for those living here in the UK. The “B” word is dominating the headlines. And suffice to say, the job market in some areas is lacking commitment as we launch into 2019. If the Prime Minister doesn’t know what the future of this country is going to look like, then how can hiring managers? The rise of contract work is happening…

How are hiring managers tackling uncertainty?

Instead of thinking long-term, HR and decision makers are turning to short term contractors, freelancers and temporary staff. According to a study by the Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide, 1.6 million UK businesses plan to hire temporary or contract work staff in the next twelve months.

There are other factors that contribute to this short term hiring trend. As technology advances new skills need to be brought in to companies to close the skills gaps. Existing employees tend to stick to what they know, and often that leads to them being technologically left behind. A younger workforce, more at ease with the latest technological advances, is well placed to step in and bring the organisation up to speed. This is particularly common in data-driven or AI based roles, jobs that wouldn’t have existed 10 or even 5 years ago.

This flexible approach to hiring means that the risks are limited – companies can scale up or scale down dependent on their requirements and at short notice, without having to give long-term employees the chop.

And where there’s demand, comes supply…

There are over 2 million freelancers in the UK alone (and rising).Freelance economy jobs

At the end of last year, despite Brexit and economic uncertainty, the national employment rate fell to 4.1%, its lowest since 1975. This is despite the UK’s hiring rates slowing down, and business growth being put largely on pause. How? The growth of contract work.

If you’re open to change, then the rise of the gig economy gives you the chance to try something different. Perhaps to utilise your skills in a different environment or industry, or work in a different part of the company.

So what does this mean for candidates?

If you’re facing redundancy or a change in career, then think about repackaging yourself. Instead of looking only for long-term opportunities, why not consider contract work? Contract work is short-term, but contractors are generally highly paid and highly valued. Many candidates find it more interesting and challenging than normal roles! It also allows you greater flexibility than a long-term position.

More than a third of UK businesses are already using contractors to fill the skills gaps in their businesses, and that rate looks to rise in 2020. So why not embrace the change and make the most of the job market’s changing opportunities! 

Contractors earn more.

There are no two ways about it. Contract work is better paid than the long-term employees. The pay is higher, they pay less in taxes, have less overheads and they get to deduct their expenses (all those coffees and train fares!). So a short-term position could be beneficial to your bank balance in the long run! And being a contractor isn’t as complicated as you might think. A survey conducted by health technology start-up WeMa Life found that 39% of full-time employees surveyed were put off contracting because they didn’t know how to raise invoices or take payments. Technology has revolutionised the world of self-employment. There are now apps to make tax returns, invoices, expenses and all other elements of business simple.

How could you repackage yourself for short-term contract work?

Consider what you could offer to a company looking for short-term hires. What skills do you bring to the table? When it comes to contracting, the focus is on the technical skills rather than the soft skills. The recruitment process for short-term hires is different to long-term hires, and often only involves one or two stages! Create a CV that (much like the recruitment process) is short and to the point, featuring your skills, achievements and career history to date. Make sure your CV is personalised for each application and then your success rate will be much higher finding contract work.

Let’s embrace the changing world of work.

The job market is changing (as is the EU). Candidates need to be flexible and change with the world of work and external influences. Look for the opportunities, adapt your search, and embrace the rise of the gig economy.

If you’d like help figuring out how to approach the world of contracting, get in touch!

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An Award-Winning Success Story

I recently heard Paralympian Georgie Bullen talk at an event celebrating International Women’s Day.

Wow, what a woman. Georgie is one of five people in the UK with a rare form of macular degeneration, meaning that she has just 12 degrees of vision. When Georgie was told that she wasn’t going to be able to continue her A levels due to the dangerous straining of her eyes (which could have lead to complete blindness) she was devastated. Her dreams of going to University were shattered. Having been at a mainstream school all her life, for the first time Georgie felt disabled. Entering the world of work, she found that she couldn’t get a job as employers didn’t know how to adapt the role (or the workplace) to her needs.

Not surprising when you learn that 73% of blind and partially sighted people in the UK are unemployed.

Eventually Georgie picked herself up and thought perhaps I’m focusing on the wrong thing? Why do employers find it so hard to employ blind or partially sighted people? The misconceptions around blindness mean that employers often think you are blind, not realising that there is a spectrum. Why should everyone be labeled and assumptions made?

At that moment, Georgie decided to start her own business, introducing her sport (Goalball) into the workplace as a team building experience. With the support of Prince’s Trust, Georgie now uses her disability to enable others.

Turning Adversity into Opportunity

Instead of giving up, Georgie found a way to turn adversity into opportunity. As the saying goes, there’s always a window open when a door shuts!

There are over 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss which is a lot of talent currently being overlooked or turned away by employers. And 7 million people of working age are disabled or have a health condition.

As a candidate with a disability, you are able to request that employers make reasonable adjustments’ to the role (such as changing working hours or providing equipment) to ensure that you’re able to do your job. The costs of which are usually low!

Candidates need to help educate employers so that we can overcome the barriers to employment that disabled people so often face. Employers shouldn’t turn away candidates just because they are different. Awareness is key there are many organisations working in the UK to help overcome disability bias within the workplace the world of recruitment just needs to embrace them.

Inspired by Georgie Bullen’s story? Read more about how she overcame adversity in the workplace.

Support for Disabled Candidates & Employers

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Having a difficult conversation?

In almost any job, there will come a time when we will be forced to have difficult conversations.

In management roles, these are more common. You may have to make an employee redundant, address your Board about lower than expected results or address an employee’s performance.  Alternatively, it may be you who is nervous about approaching your boss, either about an issue at work or your personal circumstances.

On a day-to-day basis, there are almost always internal working issues that can be difficult to broach for fear of upsetting or offending a colleague.

None of us want to be disliked or, worse, lose our job.  Our tendency can be to take the least stressful short-term solution and avoid having these difficult conversations at all costs.

Meanwhile, more bullish individuals may approach these situations more ‘directly’, which could cause conflict and low morale within the organisation.

Our October Executive Career Spotlight session : How to Deal with Difficult Conversations will address these issues for individuals and organisations alike.  Katherine Wiid, one of 400 LAB Profiling specialists in the world, will be sharing her expertise in “decoding” the language that people use to help you identify what is motivating them to act in a certain way. Understanding this will help you to deal with difficult conversations.

You can listen to an excerpt of Katherine’s radio interview with Mark Peters on Star Radio Cambridge  here:

The Executive Career Spotlight  is taking place on Monday 21 October and will teach you invaluable skills to enable you:

  • To prepare for difficult conversations
  • To be alert for verbal and non verbal signals and have strategies up your sleeve to deal with them
  • To use language effectively to diffuse the situation
  • To control your emotions and have the confidence to deal with whatever comes your way
  • And much, much more!

This interactive workshop on How to Deal with Difficult Conversations is taking place in Cambridge. Places are limited so booking early is highly recommended. For more information and details on how to book your place, click here.

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