Someone asked about contracting in the UK on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to- a mate in Auckland who has been there done that posted a fantastic reply. Reproduced here for your information and pleasure.
Tims guide to working in the UK...
Cheat Sheet Version:
* Its way easier when you're there (if you're applying from here many aren't interested or wont take you seriously)
* Gift of the gab goes a long way
* Many agents are petty & classest - don't out-class the agent
* Be good, but not too good - most contracts will become rolling
* Good contractors rates can provide a cheap and enteraining night a some antipodean pub
* Register quick and flirt with agents for securing invites to xmas functions.
* Stock up on condoms
Long Winded Inane Banter Version:
Looking is always easy (no more difficult than doing single handed searches for porn on the web) - Securing a job is another story - I've found a lot of agencies and potential employers will ignore you if you're applying from here - however when you're there & they can see a face it makes all the difference (although I've also secured jobs remotely from here so it is possible - probably more so because they didn't actually get to see my face first).
Be good (quite easy because poms are lazy whining bastards - you'll seem like a breath of fresh air to management) but not so good that you have a high profile - most contracts will turn out to be rolling, ie if you're good and keep a low enough profile they'll just forget you're there and keep paying you. Here's a few other dubious tactics to increase your revenue:
- I've heard of some contractors billing more than 24 hours a day (dodgy)
- Also heard of some guys creating off shore accounts and invoicing from there (ie zippo tax), you just need to find an 'imaginative' accountant (very dodgy)
- I've also heard of contractors decreasing income (for tax purposes) by having a large entertainment account - the record I know of is one evening costing 1200quid for a few guys having dinner.
If you're a true billy-no-mates IT nerd then you'll probably have the social skills of a boy donkey's dingle dangle, fortuntately you're in luck, london is crawling with poor antipodean travelling scum who choose a socialistic view and correspondingly poorly paid bar jobs (unlike you with your superior capitalistic pig point of view and matching high paid job)- on any given night you can find a herd of these steaming social animals at a pub in Shepherd Bush who will be instant longlost mates if you buy a few rounds of snake bites with you're new found wealth (read: contractors rates). The down side is having to listen to their drivel and pretending that just because you were brought up 400kms apart that you have something in common..
The worst are the kiwis, after 12 pints you'll be expected to strip off and do the haka half naked on the bar. Another down side is the prevalence of STDs within this incestuous bunch.
Also, it goes without saying that regardless of whether you're a pure genius or a complete plonker who cant tell the difference between a virus and a visual development environment whose name ends in .NET and was developed by one of the biggest s/w companies, if you've got the gift of the gab and can spin a yarn or two about how you single handedly re-architected all the backend systems of a forbes 500 multinational then you're in with a grin.
Oh, one more thing, they're a cheesy classest society over there so it pays to target your self sales pitch to suit the audience, you know, if the agency is located in the east end then talk applesnpears cockney drivel or if its some snooty cow from knightsbridge then just drop a few names, like the time you & uncle steve ballimer went skiing in tahoe or that time you got drunk as a skunk on larry's yacht and fell overboard etc.
And lastly, now is a good time to go over there - some of the bigger agencies throw fantastic christmas functions, and some of their staff are really slutty (guys & girls - depends on which way you bend)