Be the contractor who employers can’t wait to return from maternity leave

We show you how to stay at the forefront of your client’s mind during your maternity leave

One of the concerns women in contracting have when planning a family is how their maternity leave will affect their overall career progression, regardless of how long they decide to take off. Concerns can include wondering if it’ll be much harder to get back in the swing of things when returning to work, whether savings will see you through the months you’re not working, and if you’ll be an attractive candidate after taking time out from the rat race.

 

Whilst taking maternity leave will not affect your employability, there are some things you can do to ensure you remain at the forefront of your client’s minds during this time.

 

In this blog we look at what you can do to bridge the gap between bump, baby and beyond!

 

Swap being physically present for virtually connected

In this day and age you don’t have to be stood in front of your client for them to notice you. In fact, you could be taking your maternity leave whilst travelling the globe and still remain closer than ever to your clients.

 

Here’s a few tricks you can try to achieve virtual connection:

 

  • Read news that’s specific to your client’s industry as well as yours as a Limited Company contractor. Let your clients know of any changes that might affect them and keep a dialogue open to discuss how topics can develop. Your interest in their industry will keep you fresh in their mind and show how much you care about what’s affecting them.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and professional website up to date. Don’t be afraid to let people know how long you’ll be out of contracting for and therefore when you’ll be back. Join groups of interest on LinkedIn and conversations where you’re able to showcase your industry knowledge. Just because you’re not currently contracting, it does not mean you don’t know your stuff.
  • Keep in contact with past clients and colleagues. Ask them about upcoming projects and how your skill set and experience could help them, then have work lined up for when you’re ready to return.

 

Network with like-minded mums

For highly skilled contractors, taking time out from work can either be a welcomed break or a professional nightmare. Fear of stepping off the train to success, only to try and get back on and find someone has taken your seat, can be a daunting and often frightening concept for some.

 

Finding a group of like-minded mums can not only ease your concerns, but can also banish any maternity blues or isolation you may be feeling. It will also grow your group of contacts and could lead onto future contracts.

 

Fill any knowledge gaps

Whilst your number one priority when on maternity will of course be on your new arrival (or arrivals!), there will be times when you’ll have some time to yourself. So why not use it to update your skills, or to take a look and see what skills are currently in demand?

 

Not only will you keep your mind sharp, you’ll hit the ground running when you’re ready to return to work, as you’ll have the skills clients are looking for.

 

Use your time to work on you

Everyone has their own strengths and interests which make them unique, and sometimes it’s those individual quirks which make us stand out to a particular employer. Why not use your maternity leave to explore a few hobbies or interests that you’ve always wanted to do?

 

For example, photography can show a client you’re disciplined and have an eye for detail, whilst volunteering can demonstrate your passion to improve a situation without the need for financial gain. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing that can be your escape for when you’re not busy being mum.

 

The contracting world is waiting for you – when you’re ready to return

We hope that this blog has given you some inspiration on ways in which to progress your career when you’re taking time off to be a new mum, and given you the confidence to ensure future clients will be waiting for you when you’re ready to return. After all, a career in contracting should work for you, rather than the other way round.

 

Have you previously been on maternity leave and have a tip that’s helped you get back into your working groove? Share it with us on twitter using @IntouchAcc, we’d love to hear your experiences.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Self employment advice: The different ages of contracting

Self employment advice: Why contracting is a career for life

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been taking a journey through the different ages of contracting in conjunction with IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. The four-part series ran on the IPSE website and aims to provide self employment advice and shows how contracting can provide many lifestyle and financial benefits at different stages of life.

 

Whether you’re fresh out of college or university and looking for that first job, or a seasoned professional with a lifetime of experience under your belt, setting up a Limited Company and contracting is a career that can grow as you do.

 

Age 18 to 30; Stepping onto the ladder

In the first of our ‘Ages of Contracting’ series, I explore why contracting can be a great choice for people taking their first step onto the career ladder.

 

The Flex Appeal Report carried out by The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, shows many young people start contracting age 18 – 24 to find work and make money quickly. Other reasons to contract at this age include the flexibility to fit study or hobbies around work or to fund your way through further education.

 

Those in their mid to late twenties who have perhaps been contracting for a few years might feel ready to consider setting up as a Limited Company.

 

If you’re entrepreneurially minded and earning over £25,000 per year, choosing the Limited Company formation route can open the door to even more potential benefits. These include:

 

  • being your own boss in control of your working conditions
  • greater take home pay
  • cut out competition for jobs by starting your own business
  • the satisfaction of building your own enterprise from a young age

 

Contracting through the Flexible Thirties

In the second article of the series, I show how contracting can open the door to new opportunities once you reach your thirties. Whether it’s taking a career break to travel the world or settling down, the flexibility of contracting can provide a greater work / life balance without sacrificing take home pay.

 

It’s also a great time to become your own boss. Recent research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found almost 50% of employees are considering setting up a Limited Company. Again, flexibility and financial independence are strong motivations for going Limited.

 

Samantha Bell, 41, contracted throughout her mid to late thirties and has since launched her own successful marketing agency, DML Strategic Communications Ltd.

 

In article two, Samantha shares some of the lessons she’s learned along the way, including:

  • keep an eye on the future and where your next contract is coming from
  • look out for new problems that need solving for the client you are working for
  • be positive and professional at all times
  • make sure you know what only you bring to the role

 

Age 40 to 54; Consolidation and change

By the time you enter your forties, you may well have over two decades of experience and contacts behind you. If you were advised to make the most of your income and savings throughout this time, you should by now be able to reap the rewards of all those lucrative contracts.

 

In article three, I show how this can be a good time to audit your income vs outgoings to see whether self employment opportunities exist to ease your foot off the pedal or even change direction completely.

 

David Martin, who contracts in his mid-forties, believes confidence is the key to success:

”My advice for anyone considering a career in contracting is to go for it and have confidence – if you are successful as a permanent employee and enjoy meeting people then with the right attitude you will succeed at contracting.”

 

 

Age 55 and over; Flexibility, freedom and planning

In the final part of the series, I discuss the opportunities and challenges facing contractors in their mid-fifties and beyond.

 

Far from being worried about the future, research suggests those aged 55 to 64 are less stressed and more content than those still in the early stages of their careers.

 

Travel is a key objective for this age group, so it is no wonder that the flexible nature of contracting appeals. Contracting can also enable working in different environments and with a wide range of people, which helps to keep a career fresh if you’ve been doing it for a few decades.

 

Approaching retirement

If you are thinking about slowing down but don’t want to stop working completely, contracting provides a great way to reduce working hours without going straight into retirement.

 

Other reasons to carry on contracting in later life include:

 

  • making the move into retirement less drastic
  • the possibility of supplementing a pension with additional income
  • the opportunity to negotiate the number of hours and the type of work
  • greater freedom for those wanting to pick and choose the roles they will most enjoy.

 

It’s never too late to get advice

Whether you’re thinking about travelling the world, settling down or building a nest egg for the future, follow these five steps to make the most of your earnings and savings potential:

1. Speak to a reputable Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to ensure your money is working hard for you

2. Make the most of tax free savings, such as ISAs

3. Build up your pension pot

4. Review your investments – such as stocks and shares, or additional properties

5. Speak to your contractor accountant to ensure your salary/ dividends split is the most efficient for your needs.

 

Whatever your reasons for contracting at different times of life, it pays to seek advice on getting the most out of the potential benefits. To find out how we can help, speak to one of our expert contractor accountants today on 01202 375562 or email enquiries@intouchaccounting.com.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

How to avoid time between contracts

How to avoid time between contracts

As all contractors know, having a steady stream of contracting jobs is essential to keep the flow of money coming in. The length of individual contracts can vary widely and there can be opportunities for extensions, so in some cases a contractor could be with the same client for quite a while. Nonetheless at some point the contract will end and a new contracting role will need to be found.  If you’re keen to work constantly, with back-to-back contracts throughout the year, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you’re aware of opportunities and are more able to match your availability to roles as they come up.

Let recruiters and contacts know when you’ll be available

It’s quite common when you’re in the middle of a contract to be so focused on the work in hand that you forget to plan ahead. However, if you know that a contract is not likely to be extended, as the end date comes closer it’s helpful to update your CV and online profiles to show when you’ll be next be available. If you have agency and other contacts it’s also worth contacting them as they may not be aware that your current contract is about to end and don’t rely on your current agent alone.   It is unlikely that they will be monitoring the end of the contract they placed you on. Recruiters are focused on current vacancies and candidates who can join immediately and so may not be aware of those whose contract is coming to an end. If you leave things until the very end of your contract you’re more likely to have gaps between jobs as the process of finding your next contract, interviewing and starting could take a week or two, or even longer.

Explore other options with your current client organisation

In larger organisations there may be opportunities in other areas of the business. Different departments within a business may need your skills so it’s worth finding out what’s going on elsewhere in the organisation. You could make contact with other departments either directly, or through your agency, whichever is appropriate. Generally clients like to have contractors who are familiar with their business, so if you’re already working for them it can give you a real head start. Even if this approach doesn’t produce an immediate opportunity, it’s still worth exploring as it may produce something in the future.

Keep an eye on job boards

It’s possible to set up daily or weekly email alerts which list the latest jobs which meet your criteria. This is an easy way to keep up with what’s available and often these roles have slightly longer lead times so you can realistically pursue them while you’re still in your current contract. Agencies often advertise roles in this way, so it can be a good way of connecting with them too which may also open up new prospects.

Maintain relationships with your contacts

Keeping in touch with people you’ve formed good business relationships with is always worth investing time in. Whether you do this via platforms like LinkedIn, through phone calls or face-to-face catch up meetings and networking will depend on your schedule. Do factor this in though as it’s an essential part of your personal marketing. Keeping these contacts up to date with your projects and availability can potentially lead to contracting work and of course is also a good way to keep up purely socially with your peers and clients.

It’s a good idea to schedule some time in your weekly routine to search for potential contracts, update your CV and profiles and keep up with your contacts. This way you’ll be aware of what’s available as well as being visible to potential recruiters. This approach should help keep the contracting work – and the income – rolling in.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.