You are not ‘contracting’ – you are starting your own business

At some point during your job hunt, you will ask yourself whether contract positions are worth considering. The promise of high day-rates and more freedom is certainly appealing, but there is much more to contracting than simply doing the same work for more money. There is the additional risk you accept of being out of contract for long periods. You can wave goodbye to paid sick leave and holidays.

You will also need to consider the way you operate. Umbrella companies can leave you with the worst of both worlds: continuing to be taxed as a permanent employee, whilst shouldering the risk of being self-employed. Setting up your own limited company will give you more freedom, but you have to operate as a business or risk being taxed under IR35 legislation.

ContractingIR35 is a tax legislation designed to pick up people who are in so-called ‘disguised employment’. Put simply, if HMRC decide you are actually acting as an employee rather than a business, you will need to pay tax accordingly. This can be more costly than a permanent job as you have to factor in the costs of Employers’ National Insurance. If you are operating outside of IR35, as most contractors are, there is the risk of a considerable tax bill if you’ve accounted incorrectly.

The best way to avoid falling foul of IR35 is to look at contracting for what it really is: you are an entrepreneur running your own small business. Do it right and not only will you avoid tax shocks, you can actually build your business and increase profitability. Here are a few of ideas to get you started:

  • Outsource some routine work. specialise in subcontracting for IT Professionals. They can create dashboards, communication plans – even write up your meetings based on your whiteboard photos. As well as providing you evidence to pass HMRC’s ‘Actual Substitution test’, this will also allow you to work more efficiently – taking on more or higher value contracts;
  • Consider taking on fixed-price pieces of work, or work with additional payments for hitting key milestones. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be contracting if you were not confident in your ability to get things done. Fixed-price contracts or contracts with milestone payments can be more lucrative than pure day-rate contracts and will be attractive to the companies you work for as their risk will be greatly reduced;
  • Market your company and build your brand. It is surprising how many contracts are initiated through networks rather than job boards. Build a presence on Linked in and create your own company page. Raise your profile further by writing white papers on areas of expertise and maintaining a blog.  Don’t confine your marketing to the Internet. Business cards are still an important networking tool to use at meetings, conferences and networking events.

So there we have it. What started as a simple job search has resulted in you becoming director of your own limited company, subcontracting work and taking on lucrative fixed-price tenders. What started off as a desire to avoid IR35 has propelled you into running your own small business. Congratulations and best of luck for the future.


Essential tips for living in Dubai

Moving to another country is a huge step to take. But there are plenty of places you could move to that are a lot worse than the Emirate of Dubai so don’t knock it. So here’s a list of tips to help you through those first few weeks of settling in.

Before you go

If you aren’t moving because of work then getting a job is probably high on your list of priorities when arriving in Dubai. Recruitment agencies are just a quick Google search away but it might be easier to do the job hunt before you move. Dubai offers some very attractive salaries and a job is a common reason for the move so make sure you’ve found a role you love before upping roots from your hometown.

Check the most up-to-date laws on visa requirements. It’s not something you want to be worrying about when you’re on the plane or stuck at customs in the airport. Ensure that everything you can arrange from home is already done before you leave. Anything that you still need to sort out should be put onto a to-do list ready for you to check and work through when you arrive.

Plan to go shopping

When you arrive, chances are you’re going to want some sort of contact with the life you left behind. Enter a mobile phone. Your current one may work in Dubai but the rates to call back to the UK will be extortionate. Look into buying a cheap phone and then, once you’re settled in, consider buying a nicer one with a contract.

Luckily, Dubai uses the same plugs and sockets as we do in England so you probably won’t actually need to bring adaptors or replace your beloved hair straighteners. It makes settling in that little bit easier knowing you can go out with decent hair. You will want to invest in a GPS system though. Trying to find your way around is going to be difficult for the first few weeks so having a sat-nav and a paper map to hand can make life a bit simpler.


Know the local customs

Dubai is a wonderful place but like anywhere in the world, there are laws and rules. You are new to the country so follow all the laws strictly. There’s nothing to be gained from annoying the locals in your first couple of weeks. Alcohol is not promoted in Muslim countries so don’t go treating it like a week in Kavos, drinking and rolling around the streets. It’s possible to get jail-time for drink-driving so don’t even think about it.

The same applies for the way you dress. Women are generally expected not to flaunt everything they have. It’s disrespectful, and in any case, nobody wants to see you hanging out of your hot pants. Stick to loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders and thighs. Just think in terms of trying to be respectful to your grandparents, channel 1940s vintage and you should be set.

Make the most of your time there. The culture is drastically different from the UK so if you go there with your eyes wide open, you’ll gain some truly magical life experiences. Expect to have moments where you feel overwhelmed and, in those instances, do something that makes you feel closer to home. That could be calling your family or it could be visiting the shopping malls and indulging in a little retail therapy. The most important thing is to make sure you’re happy and have the time of your life.

Author Bio: Andy Jonson is a human resources specialist and recruitment consultant. Through this article, discover up to date career and Dubai recruitment agencies to find the right job.

When a PMO CV can be too good

I have been working with a new client who is a PMO guru – she has an impressive portfolio of contract positions in a variety of industries and is highly regarded in her field. When I was first presented with her CV for a review I was pleased to tell her that her CV says all the right things although it was missing some key facts, and as a recruiter I would be delighted to receive her CV. However I also stated that her CV was a little too good, as a recruiter passing on CVs to potential clients my fear was that it is just too good. Now at this point you may ask how can a CV be too good – well you need to think about who will be screening CVs when you apply for roles, as a project management specialist I can understand the terminology, but a great deal of clients would struggle to get their heads around it. Also when you apply for roles you may not be sending your CV to a PMO specialist – there are a great deal of recruiters with no specialist knowledge in the project management field and also HR representatives alike.

My suggestion was to add in the key areas missing in the CV and break down the information supplied into a more reader friendly piece of information. Not dumb it down but use plain English with a good level of keywords put into context within the CV.

Don't make it too complex

Assuming the reader will know what it is you are trying to say is one of the biggest mistakes professionals can make when writing CVs – by sitting on the other side of the table you can start to think about how you communicate with non-project personnel, perhaps in a work environment. Therefore you are demonstrating on your CV an ability to be able to turn complex pieces of work into easy to digest information.

Working with my client has been very interesting – we agreed a plan of action and worked together to clearly promote her experience and skill-set so she has a balance of what is expected recruitment wise and what she wants to say.

This is a clear example of a client recognising she needs to do something right with her CV and accepting that change is the order of the day – that’s a great project person, taking a pragmatic approach to ensuring she comes across in the right light.

Dealing With Conflicts within the Workplace

It would be great to think that you would always have a harmonious relationship with your work colleagues, but the reality is that relationships can sometimes run into trouble. This probably shouldn’t come as a great surprise, given the circumstances involved.

Unless you happen to be in a very lucky situation, it’s probable that you didn’t actually get to choose your work colleagues. It’s rather more likely that you were forced together and that there was an expectation that you would be productive.

New members of staff

When interviewers are looking at hiring new members of staff, they will frequently consider the work experience of an individual and will be looking to assess their abilities. It’s often more difficult, however, to identify whether someone will really fit in.

In part, that’s because each business will have its own ethos and working environment. It’s not correct to assume that it will be easy for everyone to adapt to the unique demands that are associated with a situation.

But conflicts don’t only occur when someone new joins the organization. In fact, it’s often the case that a level of stress, created by the pressures of working life, can cause a conflict to emerge. When we are under pressure, we may act in haste. We may so, or do, things that we later come to regret.

walking out

Remaining calm

Although it’s clear that the priority should be to keep calm and to avoid encountering such issues, it’s also true to say that it’s incredibly hard to avoid problems. What is critical is that you have a response that you can rely on.

In general terms, your aim should be to remain professional at all times. Although the issue that you have with another individual may make life uncomfortable and you may feel that the other person is acting unreasonably, it’s vitally important that you should avoid responding in a similar manner. That’s only likely to make things worse and it probably won’t be very positive to your career prospects.

Instead, you need to think about how you can handle the situation. It may be that a frank discussion with the other individual is all that’s required, but that may not be appropriate. You’ll need to judge whether that’s likely to make things better, or whether it may simply inflame the situation. You very clearly don’t want to make things worse.

A more realistic approach may involve reporting the situation to a senior manager. In this case, you need to be careful that you provide all of the facts and that you take a fully objective approach. It can be tempting to paint a picture of the behaviour of the other person that is intended to show them in a bad light. It’s usually best to avoid such a temptation.

Instead, explain the problems that you are having and how they are having an impact on the smooth operation of the business. This should ensure that your manager views the situation with the sort of importance that it clearly deserves.

About the author

Keith Barrett writes about workplace mediation and dealing with difficult situations. He believes that most issues can be resolved in a manner that is appropriate for all concerned.