COVID-19 pandemic: Support for contractors

Covid-Pandemic Image

It has been an unprecedented few weeks for everyone, not least for the self-employed community as the coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the globe, leading to lockdown in country after country, the UK most recently. As well as the obvious worries about our health and that of our loved ones, it has also led to worries about how incomes will be maintained when the world has effectively ground to a halt for an indefinite period.

The Government has announced a variety of measures designed to help both self-employed and employed people protect their incomes, so what measures are available?

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Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis

working from home

We’ve written a fair few articles on working from home over the years. After all, it’s often one of the major changes faced by employees becoming contractors. But this one’s somewhat different as now everyone who is able to is working from home and the challenges faced by contractors and freelancers working from home are a bit different too.

Contractors are now finding themselves working from home while their partners also work from home and, with schools closed, with their children at home too. So, while we usually offer tips on dealing with the isolation that working from home can bring, this one is about dealing with the pressures of working around people who aren’t normally at home with you, while you try to get to grips with the UK’s current way of life.

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A contractor’s New Year’s resolutions for 2020

NY resolution

It’s that time of year when the words “next year I’m going to drink less/join the gym/lose weight” start popping out of our mouths. Quite often, we really do mean it as well. We’ll then all hurtle into 2020 with the best of intention before promptly giving up on 12th January. But what about making some New Year’s resolutions that you can keep?

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A self-employed Christmas

 

self-employed Christmas2

Before you became self-employed, Christmas at work was probably either the most fun you had all year, or a horror you’d prefer to forget. Office Christmases can be wildly hit or miss and, if we’re being honest, can be often more of a miss (except here at Kingsbridge HQ, obviously).

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What does the General Election mean for the IR35 Reforms?

What does the general election mean for ir35

Just when we all thought things couldn’t get any more complicated with regards British politics, a 12th December General Election has been thrown into the mix. As the news is filled with stories of campaigns, Brexit, and whether or not nativity plays will need to be cancelled, most contractors are wondering what this (and the delayed Budget earlier this month) will mean for April 2020’s IR35 reforms.

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Do I need a website as a contractor?

Do I need a website

If you’re in the process of setting up your own business as a contractor or freelancer then one of the biggest things on your mind is probably how best to market yourself.

There are lots of things you can do and some you’ll have already implemented: designing business cards, polishing your LinkedIn profile, signing up with recruiters, and speculatively calling and emailing companies or brands you would like to work with are just a few. However, building a website could well be something you’re undecided over whether or not to do.

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What to do with an unpaid invoice

What to do if an invoice goes unpaid

It’s an unpleasant fact about contracting and freelancing: occasionally you may come across clients who either pay late or don’t pay at all. Sometimes this can be an innocent mistake, sometimes it can be a deliberate tactic on the part of the client to manage their business’s cash flow. Either way, it’s annoying for the self-employed who then have to dedicate time and energy to chasing up late or missing payments, which takes away from time spent on actual work projects.

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Do you know how to spin yourself?

How to spin yourself

No, we’re not talking about some crazy exercise fad or bizarre pastime. Instead, we’re talking about ways you can disguise your perceived “weaknesses” as a freelancer or contractor and turn them into strengths that will make you uniquely hireable.

But what does this look like in real terms?

 

Availability

 

What got us thinking about this was reading about Hannah Martin, co-founder of The Talented Ladies Club and successful freelance copywriter, who was also a parent. In the early days, she found being a mum meant she could rarely be available to work onsite with a client. However, she performed a rather genius sleight of hand by identifying her USP.

 

This was built around being the go-to copywriter if you had an urgent brief, or if you needed work doing overnight or over the weekend. Clients suddenly weren’t bothered by having to brief her over the phone and have her work remotely if it meant they were delivering work to their boss on time. This is a great example of putting a spin on a supposed shortcoming and making it a strength that sells.

 

Experience

 

If you’re a younger contractor and freelancer, your comparative lack of experience can be a bit daunting. The same goes for older contractors who have perhaps only held one or two long-term roles prior to becoming self-employed – you may feel inexperienced compared to people who have a more varied CV.

 

Remember though, a more focused career doesn’t necessarily make you inexperienced, it makes you a specialist. While others may be able to do lots of things, you can do one or two things exceptionally well. It’s just a case of turning how you think about yourself on its head.

 

Fees

 

Fees may not seem like something you can put a spin on. They are what they are, after all. But that doesn’t stop prospective clients (for freelancers more than contractors) attempting to haggle when you give them your estimate for an assignment.

 

Putting a spin on your fees helps prospective clients see the full value of your service and what is included in that estimate. So, instead of simply telling a client your day rate and what deliverable they’ll get at the end – whether it’s a new company-wide email system, a civil engineering project, or simply some marketing copy – make sure they know that they’re also getting your years of experience, your various skills, your problem-solving abilities, your contractor insurance and anything else you consider relevant. This can be the difference between winning a contract and losing out to someone who’s cheaper but not necessarily as talented.

 

Spinning yourself as a contractor or freelancer isn’t about being dishonest – you’re not saying anything about yourself that’s not true. It’s simply about knowing how to market yourself and make sure that your USPs shine through. People can be quick to dismiss things that don’t fit into their way of thinking, so putting a spin on things that could be seen as problematic instead shows that they are, in fact, benefits of hiring you. And that can be no bad thing.

Personality turn-offs that could cost you a contract

Behaviours that could cost you a contract

While it’s popular to say “you do you”, this may not be the case if you’re in an interview situation.

In fact, a recent report from CV-Library and TopCV (based on a survey of 200 employers) found that a huge 75% believe that personality is the most important factor when considering someone for a job, whether that be as a contractor or as a permanent employee. Just to put it in perspective, that’s compared to those who believed it was education (13%) or appearance (12%).

So, you could have all the skills and education, but if there’s a clash of personalities, you could well lose out on the contract.

Personality no-no’s

According to the report there is a top ten of personality turn-offs that are almost guaranteed to get you taken off the recruitment shortlist. These are:

  • Arrogance
  • Dishonesty
  • Being unreliable
  • Close-mindedness
  • Being immoral
  • Ignorance
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Self-centredness
  • A short temper
  • Cruelty

The list of the most favoured personality traits is somewhat self-explanatory. It includes being reliable, having confidence, honesty, being honourable, loyalty, friendliness, and being self-disciplined.

Careers Expert at TopCV, Amanda Augustine, had this to say on the results of the survey: “Historically, assessing job seekers was contingent on two factors – experience and skills – but our new survey reveals that more intangible qualities, such as personality, are determining which candidates rise to the top.”

Of course, the fact that personality traits are intangible can mean it comes down to personal preference, but there are things you can to do make sure you’re at an advantage.

How to make sure you come across at your best

When bidding for a contract, you have a relatively small space of time to convince the hiring manager that you’re the right person for this project. As well demonstrating your experience and skills, you also need to use the time to show off your sparkling personality. So, what do you need to do?

  • Tread the fine line between selling yourself and coming across as arrogant and entitled
  • Be open, transparent and honest
  • Arrive in plenty of time and prepare anything you said you would
  • Show yourself to be open-minded and well-informed
  • Be kind, polite and pleasant – it costs nothing

While this might seem obvious to most people, it’s easy to get carried away in an interview environment, especially with the race-to-the-bottom business culture so often demonstrated on the likes of LinkedIn and in popular culture. It’s not necessary to be an awful person in order to get ahead and, as this report shows, it can actually damage your chances in very real terms.

 

Of course, there are other things that can also damage your chances at securing a contract and not having the correct contractor insurance is one of them. If you’re ready for renewal or need to buy for the first time, our expert team can help. Simply call 01242 808740.