8 of the most common mistakes to avoid as a contractor

 8 of the most common mistakes to avoid as a contractor

There are many benefits to operating as an umbrella employee or a Director of your own Limited Company. Some benefits include the possibility to earn higher pay rates as well as having more flexibility, however, it’s always very important to be aware of the common mistakes that can be made during a contractor’s professional career.  Here are some of eQuidity’s top tips to help you.

  1. Negotiation skills not being up to scratch

It is crucial for you as a contractor to be able to negotiate successfully, this skill alone can have an impact on your pay rates. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you are always up to date on the average industry pay rates of contractors with a similar skill set to you.  This can give you a starting point on what your rate should be, it is always best to try and ask for a higher pay rate but do expect to meet in the middle.

  1. Not being prepared financially

It is important that as a contractor that you are aware that there will be times that you may not get the “big contract” or you will have to adjust your pay rate to guarantee the contract.  There also may be times where there are large gaps between contracts which will mean that you may have to rely on savings, therefore it’s essential that you set up a savings account to put aside a portion of your earnings every month so you have a back-up when you miss out on that contact.


  1. Not adapting your CV

Another common mistake we have discovered from our contractors is to send out the same CV to all contract opportunities. However, sending a standard CV will not help you stand out from the crowd so it is important for you to continually customise your CV for each contract opportunity ensuring you match the skills you possess to the skills most desired for that specific contract.

  1. Only applying for a handful of jobs

Some new contractors will only ever apply for one or two vacancies hoping that it would be enough to land their next contract, it would be more prudent to avoid breaks between contracts, to play the numbers game. This is even more pragmatic if you operate within a competitive industry. The more positions you apply for; the more opportunities you will have.

  1. Not being properly prepared for an interview

You would be surprised the number of people who show up to an interview knowing little or nothing about the company or role they are applying for! You should always make sure that you do your research before any interview, for example:

  • Look into the company’s history and goals. How can your skills be used to benefit these?
  • Understand what the client wants from your role. Highlight how your personal and professional attributes and skills match these needs.
  • Always have answers in place for standardised interview questions, using the ‘STAR’ method can be useful as it gives you an effective structure to follow when answering these questions.


Situation – Discuss a previous circumstance you have been in.

Task - The task at the time.

Action – How your skills resolved the task.

Result – The result you achieved.

  1. Lack of networking abilities

You don’t need to be the most out-going or extrovert person but it is crucial that you maintain relationships with old colleagues and clients on social media sites such as LinkedIn as this will help you to obtain future work as well as a place for you to showcase your skills and being endorsed for these!  It might be helpful to join a few contracting groups to find out a bit more information on how others network.

  1. Not having the industry knowledge

Potential new clients want to know that you are knowledgeable and reliable, this means being up to date on all of the latest industry information which will make you more desirable.  It is important to have an over-all and comprehensive understanding on the latest trends and techniques within your particular sector.

  1. Allowing your skill set to be come outdated

In most industries, there is competition between contractors so ensuring that your skills are up-to-date is imperative to help you stand out from the crowd.  Enrolling in online courses or training sessions as well as going to industry events will be key in keeping your skills up-to-date. 

Being a contractor whether you work through an Umbrella or a Limited Company, just being aware of these common mistakes could mean the difference between being a highly desirable contractor and one who gets left behind.



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