How to find contract work

Being able to find work as a contractor determines whether you’re able to make a living as an independent professional or not.

But how hard is it to find a contract? What can you do to advertise your services? And where should you look for contract work?

We’ll run through everything you need to know.

What is a contract?

First, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of what a contract is before you start searching for one. In a literal sense, a contract is a written agreement between two or more parties, outlining a legally binding obligation.

For instance, a contractor would agree to a contract with a client, recruitment agency or umbrella company. This contract would detail the services provided by the contractor, along with rates of pay and a whole host of other legal information.

List your skills and services

When looking to secure a contract – whether as a contractor or an umbrella worker – you need to be specific about what it is that you can offer in exchange for payment.
In other words, specifically how you can meet their needs. A quick and simple way of doing this is to list your skills, along with the wider services that you provide.

For example, if you’re a developer, your list could look something like this:

  • Skills – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, SQL
  • Services – Full Stack Development, Front-End Development, Back End Development

Create a contractor CV

With a firm idea of what exactly you can offer clients, the next step is to create a contractor CV.

There are several ways you can do this – from writing a simple word document to creating a neatly designed PDF with a cover letter, or even building a portfolio website.
Whatever you opt for, make sure everything is laid out clearly and that the skills, services and examples of any work you’d like to highlight are relevant to the role.

Make sure you tick the following boxes:

  • List your skills
  • Outline your services
  • Highlight your experience
  • Provide examples of projects worked

Set your day rate

Charge too much for your services and you might find it hard to win a contract. Undercharge and you aren’t going to earn enough money. So it goes without saying that it’s important to find a sweet spot, where everyone’s happy.

There are a few ways you can gauge how much you should charge:

  • Recruitment agencies – speaking to a recruiter or browsing available contracts (which tend to include experience required and day rates).
  • Ask around – asking fellow contractors (ideally ones working in a similar field) how much they charge.
  • Research – there are plenty of online resources, which will guide you. For example, IT contractors could check out IT Jobs Watch.
  • To find out how much you could take home working through an umbrella company, take a look at our take-home pay calculator.


When it comes to finding a contract, never underestimate the power of your network. Relationships you’ve built over the years with colleagues, managers or previous clients may prove valuable in finding your next contract. After all, these people already know and trust you.

So try emailing your contacts and letting them know of your availability. Don’t hesitate to update your LinkedIn profile and tell your network that you’re open to offers.

Browse contractor job boards

To increase the chances of finding a contract, you might want to start browsing contractor job boards. These sites source the latest contract roles, either directly from a business or via recruitment agencies.

Here are three reputable sites:

Use recruitment agencies

Don’t rule out working via a recruitment agency either. Recruiters do the legwork for you, connecting you with contracts based on your skills, experience and fees. You could start by signing up with several of the leading contract recruitment agencies, which will update you as and when a relevant opportunity comes their way.

Securing a contractor interview

Once you’ve piqued a potential client’s interest, next comes the contractor interview. You might be wondering how – if at all – a contractor interview differs from a traditional ‘job’ interview. Well, the premise is the same – with the client looking to find out if you’re right for the contract – but the questions often differ.

Because you aren’t interviewing for a permanent position, don’t be surprised if you’re asked if you’re able to hit the ground running, how capable you are of working independently and quizzed on your ability to lead a project from start to finish.

A final thought

On the face of it, finding a new contract can seem daunting. But given the demand for contractors has reached record levels in recent months, there has arguably never been a better time to land a new contract.

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