en

Jobs

Our industry specialists will listen to your aspirations and share your story with New Zealand’s most prestigious organisations. Together, let’s write the next chapter of your career.

See all jobs

Exclusive Recruitment Partners

Explore the opportunities from a range of organisations that exclusively partner with Robert Walters for their hiring needs.

Learn more

Contact Us

Truly global and proudly local, we’ve been serving New Zealand for over 25 years with offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Get in touch
Jobs

Our industry specialists will listen to your aspirations and share your story with New Zealand’s most prestigious organisations. Together, let’s write the next chapter of your career.

See all jobs

Exclusive Recruitment Partners

Explore the opportunities from a range of organisations that exclusively partner with Robert Walters for their hiring needs.

Learn more
Services

New Zealand’s leading employers trust us to deliver fast, efficient hiring solutions that are tailored to their exact requirements. Browse our range of bespoke services and resources.

Read more

Capability Statement

We offer a range of services that we have perfected over time, yet we embrace all challenges without exception. Share your talent challenges with us and together we will find the solution.

Learn more
About Robert Walters New Zealand

Kia ora. For us, recruitment is more than just a job. We understand that behind every opportunity is the chance to make a difference to people’s lives.

Learn more

Work for us

Our people are the difference. Hear stories from our people to learn more about a career at Robert Walters New Zealand

Learn more
Contact Us

Truly global and proudly local, we’ve been serving New Zealand for over 25 years with offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Get in touch

What to consider before becoming a contractor

Contracting is a fantastic opportunity for you to take control of your career, and for some people, it’s the best decision they’ll ever make. 

But, leaving a permanent role doesn’t come without risks, so don’t let yourself get caught out by thinking the grass is always greener on the contracting side. 

To help you make this decision, we’ve invited two of our experts to share some important advice on what to think about if you’re considering the switch…

1. Do you have the right mentality? 

“When considering a contract role, you need to think long and hard about your motivations for making the move,” says Carly Adams, director of contracting at Robert Walters Hong Kong. It’s all about having the right reasons for making the switch, she adds. “Is it to grow your experience in a new industry, learn and enhance your skills, or achieve a better work/life balance?"

Wayne Bennett, business director at Robert Walters UK, explains: “As an experienced recruiter, I can tell that someone is perfect for contracting because they get excited about delivering projects and seeing what the next challenge is. If you’ve got the right mentality for contracting, you’ll always want to give the best service to the client and make sure you become an invaluable member of the team regardless of how long your contract lasts.”

2. What are the financial implications?

“The salary attached to contracting roles will largely depend on the nature of the project and the demands in the market at that time,” says Carly. Most companies will offer a gratuity completion bonus which can be included in the salary package, while others may offer an increase on basic salary to move into a contract role, she says, adding: “The financial implications depend on the individual’s lifestyle.”

Depending on the role, candidates might need a significant pay increase to help cover additional outgoings and make the switch worth it, explains Wayne, saying that in some sectors, such as IT, contractors should be aiming to earn at least twice as much as a permanent salary. He adds, “You might be away from home a lot, and you’re not guaranteed work, so you’ll need this extra money to act as savings to cover additional travel expenses, living expenses and employment gaps.”

“And don’t forget to check when you’re going to be paid,” advises Wayne. “Agencies will only pay you once they’ve been paid themselves, so if they’re on 60-day payment terms, that means you’ll have to wait two months for your first pay cheque.”

3. How will the change affect your lifestyle?

“When thinking about taking a contractor position, the impact on your lifestyle - particularly if you have a family - should be one of the most important things you consider,” says Wayne, explaining that this is often overlooked by candidates who focus too much on the financial side of the role and less on the practicalities and the impact it’ll have at home. 

“Depending on the location of the job, the type of role and the contract length - some contracts can be up to two years - you could be faced with a complete lifestyle change,” he explains. “Some contracting roles might be outside commutable distance and if you have to live away from home, you’ll need to factor in both the financial cost and the impact on home life. For example, living in Newcastle for five days a week is very different cost-wise to living in London and if you have children, you’ll probably only get to see them at weekends.”

4. Will you set up as a limited company or use an umbrella company? 

“When you’re a contractor, all the benefits you used to receive as a permanent employee you now have to manage yourself,” says Wayne. Using an umbrella company is one-way contractors can get help in sorting all these issues, he advises. “You pay them to handle things like tax, pension contributions, and holiday entitlement, although obviously all this comes at a cost and the umbrella company could take as much as 15% of your salary through their fees.”

The other option for contractors is to set up as a limited company. “If you set yourself up as a limited company, you’ll take home more money, but you’ll be responsible for things like your own pension plan and submitting your own tax returns,” warns Wayne, adding that contractors may need to employ an accountant to help deal with the financial side of things. 

5. What impact does contracting have on benefit packages? 

“If the benefits of a new role are important to you, make sure you discuss them with your potential employer before making the switch,” advises Carly, noting that these benefits could include medical cover, annual leave and a ‘completion of contract’ bonus. As she adds, “contracting is becoming increasingly popular, so benefits are now on par, or even more attractive than those offered for permanent positions. This makes it more appealing to permanent employees to make the move into a contract role.”

 

contracting is becoming increasingly popular, so benefits are now on par

 

6. Do you have all-important soft skills as well as the technical know-how?

“On average, 70% of well-performing contractors will be considered for a permanent role within the company when their contract ends. This is often because of the soft skills contractors possess, as these are the skills that really set them apart from the rest,” says Carly, emphasising that a positive attitude and willingness to learn are important soft-skill traits candidates looking for contracting roles need to possess. 

As Wayne notes: “Technology and business have changed so much over recent decades. For example, IT workers, have gone from sitting quietly at the back of the room to leading whole organisations through digital transformations.

“This means they now have to be able to talk to the business, understand what they need, and translate the technical aspects into a workable space that the business can use.” He adds: “IT is no longer separate from the business, it’s a driving force, and as a result, programme managers, business analysts, CIOs and CTOs can now effectively communicate with other stakeholders across the business. It’s hard to underestimate just how important soft skills have become.”

Should you make the move?

Any change of job will always require serious thought, but, due to the transient nature of contracting, the move from permanent to contract will often require more thorough consideration. As Carly states, “candidates need to consider what their main motivations are when moving careers” to ensure that they’re making the right change for themselves and their family, as well as their future career development.

Share this article

Useful links

Sign up for job alerts
Salary survey
Career advice
Get in touch

Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Take the next step

View All

Craft a killer personal brand statement

In a world that’s overflowing with information, it pays to make yourself memorable. Your personal brand statement helps to do just that. This essential self-marketing tool is basically a pithy statement of your key skills and the value you can bring to any organisation you’re hoping to work for. For

Read More

Market yourself to employers

Today's business climate has changed and there is an increased number of people jostling for jobs. So how can you set yourself apart? Put on your sales cap Think of yourself as a sales person whose livelihood is dependent on the sales of your product, except in this case, you are tasked to market an

Read More

How to find a new job

Once you have made the decision to look for new opportunities, it can be hard to know where to start with your job search. To make sure you are able to apply for the most relevant jobs, it’s important that you dedicate time to your job search and understand the different ways that new roles can be f

Read More

Find your incredible

Robert Walters and New Zealand Rugby invite you to find your incredible. When people and businesses find their incredible, icons are created, and the world's best teams are formed. Find your incredible with Robert Walters.