Looking for a Contract
Generally, engineers find work through an agent, though personal contacts are useful. Both avenues should be pursued.
Using an Agent
Agents provide both the client, and the contractor with a useful service:
Benefits of Using an Agent for the Client:
- Eases recruitment by providing an up to date list of suitably qualified and experienced staff who are seeking employment
- Eases accounting by reducing the number of invoices they have to handle
Benefits of Using an Agent for the Contractor:
- Provides an entry into a client's organisation
- Eases cash flow. A contractor invoices the agent weekly and is paid weekly. The agent in turn invoices the client, and can wait a period of time to get paid.
Generally agents are paid commission on each hour worked by a contractor. For example, the client pays £30 per hour to the agent, and the agent pays the contractor £28 per hour. The agent receives £2 for every hour the contractor works. There is no set commission. Some agents will take as much as they can; others view their contractors as long term partners and take a reasonable amount. Occasionally, the client will stipulate the contractor's rate. This can prevent animosity arising when two contractors find themselves doing the same job, but on different rates.
How to Find Agents
- Speak to other contractors. They will tell you the agents to be trusted, and those to be avoided.
- Look on the Internet. Try searching on any of the UK based search engines.
- Look at the technical press.
Found an Agent - Now What?
Send your CV to the agent, with a cover letter stating where you want to work e.g. Aberdeen, London etc, and what your availability is e.g. can start a week on Monday. Also give them a call. Chat with them and raise your profile. Keep in touch and let them know you are available. Eventually, they will sort you out with an interview.
This method is regarded by many as the ideal way to work. Contact everyone with whom you have worked before to let them know you are available. Give them a copy of your business card, so they will always know how to contact you. If something is available, and your work is known and liked, then you are in with a good chance. Most times you will not need an interview; you will be employed on the back of your colleagues recommendation.
The client may have a preferred agent, if so then that is whom you will have to use. Otherwise, you will be able to select an agent. This is where your work in talking with other contractors pays off. You will know who to select, and who to avoid. Obviously, talk with the client to try and find out the rate they pay the contractor, and then start negotiating with agents to see who will give you the best deal.
Play hard, after all you have done the hard work usually carried out by the agent.