A Guide to Contracting in the UK

Becoming an independent contracting in the UK can be a daunting prospect – say goodbye to your steady salary, employee benefits and normal working hours. However, say hello to greater flexibility, higher earnings and more personal freedom. If this is your first time dipping into the world of contracting in the UK, then read this guide to help ensure you understand the requirements.

Guide to Contracting in the UK

Your CV

Since you’re going to be working for a much higher number of different employers than a full-time employee, your CV is going to be under frequent and intense scrutiny. That means it needs to really sell you and your skills. Put your skills first and foremost, since these are what clients are going to be looking for. Also, use case studies on your CV that highlight your skills and show how you have helped other clients. Finally, make sure your CV looks clean and professional – clients will be turned off by poorly designed or formatted CVs. There are plenty of guides available to help you write a great contractor CV.


This dirty word is a large part of contracting. You should be collecting business cards like they’re Panini stickers. Whenever you get a new client, give them several of your business cards to give to clients of theirs. Keep in touch with former clients and prod them every few months to see if they are in need of your services.

Use Agencies

For most contractors, the majority of their work comes from agencies. These are matchmakers for clients and contractors, facilitating fruitful partnerships and, importantly, steady work for you. There are agencies which specialise in certain industries, so find the right ones for the type of work you do and sign up to all of them. The more you sign up to, the greater your pool of potential clients will be.

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As a contractor, you have control over how you are paid. Contractors might choose to become a limited company or will use an umbrella company for administrative purposes. Using an umbrella company brings the advantages of having the administration of payroll, invoicing, tax, etc., taken care of by specialists. You can set payroll up quickly to sort out contractor pay as simply as possible. Using an umbrella company is also a great way of making sure that you remain compliant with IR35 and you will be paid PAYE, as if you were a full-time employee.

The Contract

Contracts are the basis for the agreement, the services you are providing and the conditions in which they are provided, so make sure that you get the contract right for both parties. It is essential that terms are defined, commercial obligations are clear, and you decide on how arbitration should take place. There are several resources available to help you with contract writing, so make use of them.


You are very unlikely to be able to work full-time, or even part-time for an employer, and also be a contractor. Embracing the life of a contractor often means giving up employment in order to make sure you have the time to deliver work for all of your clients and find more clients to work with. Be prepared to make a decision between your employment and your contracting work.


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