Contracting in the Data Analytics Markets
Our Principal Contract consultant Samuel Cormack recruits into the field of analytics, here he gives you an insight and some advice on the contract world.
Transitioning from a permanent employee to a contractor is quite simple, but can be a big step for a candidate to take. Being a contractor is a great way for someone to potentially earn a lot of money, along with gaining a lot of experience working at numerous companies. Opportunities arise for you to work on a variety of different projects which will help to endorse and improve your skills and experience quickly. This flexibility can be very appealing.
When transitioning it takes a bit of courage as you are moving into a different world and many people fall into common pitfalls when they are not aware of the differences. For example, a lot of permanent roles have notice periods, and clients will not wait for 1-3 months for a contractor. Therefore, when transitioning you are going to have to hand your notice in before you have anything lined up and be confident enough with yourself to get something when you finish. One thing I always tell my candidates that do make the transition is; you are not going to struggle because you have come from a permanent role, if anything this might make you more attractive to clients.
The main difference between the permanent and contract market is the speed things happen. The contract market moves very quickly, you have less time to decide on the occupation and the interview process is usually only 1 stage with a higher rate of competition. Furthermore, within the contract market, the pay rates tend to dictate what the role consists of. A key bit of advice would be to make sure you only apply for roles that you are happy with based on what the rates can offer or the role itself. It is sometimes a wise decision to choose a role based on the project rather than just what it is paying. You need to be very decisive as there are usually back-up contractors available. Being a good interviewee is key to getting offers and long term, high paying contract roles.
The PROS of working as a contractor include earning more than a permanent employee at the same level; you get to take as much time off as you want, you can work on lots of different projects and work for a variety of companies. Another factor would be that if you are lucky enough to work within a niche area through a Ltd company you can claim expenses. But as always, there are always negatives, working as a contractor you are not entitled to any benefits such as pensions, bonuses, holiday allowance and other benefits that permanent employees are entitled to. There is also the possibility of your contract getting cut short which is a major concern for those who question making the transition along with the lack of stability compared to that of a permanent role.
As a contract consultant I remind my candidates when they question the lack of progression available that it depends on what they as a candidate are trying to achieve. If they want to become a senior member of staff in a certain company then yes being a contractor could hinder that. However if you just want to earn as much money as you can and increase your day rate and seniority in your field then contracting will not hold you back, in fact there is a strong chance your day rate will increase from one contract to the next. I have worked with a number of candidates that I have placed in multiple roles one after the other and their rates have increased dramatically.
Employers that look for contractors do look to candidates with strong professional and personal skills but they also look for more specific skillsets. For example, they could be looking for a contractor to come in and just create reports, nothing else. Or they could be looking for someone to analyse large volumes of transactional data using a specific tool like SAS. Clients are usually very specific about what they want from the start, a specific tool like SAS or SPSS, Industry background like Retail or Insurance, a certain rate they cannot exceed and they need the candidate to be available for a certain date. The main thing that I find clients want and struggle to find is a technical analyst that can analyse large volumes of customer/transactional data, build Models and then present their findings to a technical or non-technical audience. They can either do the technical side of the work or present, not many can do both. The candidates that can do both are very valuable.
For those entering an industry I would say it is quite difficult for a graduate to go straight into contracting as clients hire contractors who can hit the ground running. My advice would be to graduate, get into a good company that are doing some great work, stay there a year or two and then move into contracting. The types of industries and experience that clients like are Retailers, Consultancies, Grocery, Digital Agencies that are using SAS or SPSS on a daily basis to analyse large volumes of data. Presenting your findings is very desirable also
Advice I would always give is to only work with a few agents. The more agencies you work with, the more duplication of roles you will have. Pick a few agents that you like working with as the good ones will always have roles and will soon know you, the types of companies, roles and the way you like to be worked with. I have found that a very good Contractor will always find work no matter how quiet the market is; clients are always interested in the Top Talent!
If you are interested in making the transitions from Permanent to Contract then do not hesitate to contact Sam on: Email: SamuelC@xcedesolutions.com Telephone: 0203 301 9919