A new survey, carried out by the UK’s leading contractor accountancy firm, suggests that IT contractors are a happy bunch, with almost three quarters of respondents reporting a better work/life balance since they left the world of permanent employment behind them.
The latest edition of SJD Accountancy’s ‘contractor attitudes’ survey confirms many of the trends long associated with the contracting life – improved pay, and more freedom being the most prominent.
Unsurprisingly, 9 in 10 of the 1,000 contractors polled are men, and 55% of them are aged over 40. Just over one third are earning between £500 and £700 per day – which is up 13% on the results of the last poll, carried out six months ago.
How do contractors find new sources of work?
According to the poll, 38% of respondents used a recruitment agency to find their last contract role, and 10% used a job board. Interestingly, a larger percentage used other means to secure work – 22% used their own industry networks, 7% were recommended by colleagues, and 19% secured the role directly via the end-client.
Of course, some of these results will overlap (e.g. many contractors who used their own networks, or were recommended, would still work via a recruitment agency, as a majority of clients will only hire contractors via intermediaries.
Historically, around 80% of contractors use recruitment agencies, regardless of how they came across the role (i.e. job board / recommendation / speculative applications), so the 19% figure for contractors who are working direct for their clients would seem to indicate that the direct/agency split remains on the long-term trend.
The survey reinforces the generally accepted view that most IT professionals who take the leap into contracting don’t regret the move: 91% said they were ‘positive’ about contracting in general, and 73% felt ‘positive’ about the outlook for the contracting market in general.
A vast majority of respondents cited the better rates of pay as being the most enjoyable factor associated with contracting, with other commonly held views including: more control over career choices, greater responsibility and respect, and a massive reduction in the ‘administration’ associated with being a permanent employee – including regular appraisals, no doubt.
Contracting more of a career choice?
The authors of the poll believe that the reasons why many people choose to leave the comfort of the permanent world behind, for a less-certain life as contractors, have changed over the years:
Commenting on the survey findings, Claire Johnson, MD at SJD Accountancy, said: “Contracting used to be seen as a way to bridge the gap between permanent positions. However in the last few years, more professionals have realised that their quality of life, rates of pay and diversity of work is improved when they work for themselves.”