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Switching From Perm To Freelance or Contract Work? 4 Things You Need To Know


DATE: 26 September, 2022

Are you thinking about switching or starting freelance or contract work? It's a hot market for contracting, but navigating it can be tough so I thought I'd share some key advice for anyone considering it.

So, let's get into it…

1. Think about your day rates

Money, money, money. It's no lie, day rates are skyrocketing. I honestly haven't seen day rates this high in a long time, but that's a super positive thing because it means that your talent and your skill sets are in demand.

Do keep in mind that you need to be reasonable with your day rates though. People can sometimes go a little bit too high on the day rate without realising the problem that it might be creating for a short freelance gig.

There are quite a few factors I would recommend taking into consideration when working out your freelance day rate:

  • How long is the contract?
  • Is it a really interesting company?
  • Will this work look great in my portfolio?
  • Is it remote?
  • Do you need to work on site or can you work from anywhere in Australia?

And there's probably more you might like to think about. All of these should be considered when negotiating and deciding upon your day rate.

When negotiating your freelance day rate, I'd also highly recommend the following:

  • Asking your peers
  • Talking to businesses
  • Looking at our salary guide 
  • Talking to recruiters (Our recruiters at Aquent are always happy to chat! Contact us here)
  • Finding out what the standard bracket is for your role

Let's expand on that last one. I always like to think of day rates in a bracket. Your range might be $600 to $750, or $700 right through to $900. Having a bracket and really knowing where you want to sit, depending on the work, can help give you direction.

For instance, if the job is onsite 100%, you might want to go a little bit higher in the bracket because you've got to factor in travel and other costs. Another factor to note is that most companies are normally given a budget, so they know exactly how much they can pay for the role.

Don't be afraid to have a chat and make it a really open and honest conversation when negotiating day rates. If you'd like any help with this, reach out to me or my team.

2. Think about the duration of the freelance job

The second thing is time. First off, find out how long the contract is going to be. If it's a three month job, that might be a nice quick, juicy contract to get in and get out.

However, if you're looking for something more long term, especially if you're leaving a permanent role, I would recommend trying to aim for a 6–12 month contract. Then, I would also do some digging around the gig. What does extension look like? How likely is this project to get funding? Find out those details before signing away, especially if you're looking at long term contracts.

3. Think about the project

There are always lots of juicy, exciting projects coming through for contractors, and it can look absolutely great on your portfolio—especially if it's a big business and you're involved with high level stakeholders, and there's loads of customer touch-points.

It can be really exciting but be sure to find out more specific details of the project to make sure it's something that's going to benefit your career path.

4. Think about your non-negotiables for freelance work

No one likes regret. I would strongly encourage you to be really upfront with yourself and write down a list of all the things that are your non-negotiables when it comes to contracting (hint, money will be there!). You might add in your day rate bracket, maybe remote work, maybe onsite — but write down what's important to you for your next career move.

I would also recommend deciding if you want to stay contracting, or if you want to do a short term contract and then go back into a permanent role. Another big thing to find out is what the notice period is for the contract. Many don't have notice periods but big corporations normally ask for two weeks, so if something was to go wrong you've got that little bit of a buffer.

Another thing to remember is your day rates. With contracting day rates, you are entitled to higher pay as you normally won't get holiday pay, sick pay and so on. But if you are sick, or if you do take days off, you won't be remunerated for that time off work. It's important to factor this in.

My advice?

If you're excited and you're interested in doing contracts, do it. It's a great market, and I don't see it slowing down in the contractor space.

If you want to chat more about salaries, day rates, contracting—reach out to me here or message me on LinkedIn. We can email or book a time to have a chat.