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How Do I Transition From a Permanent to a Contract Testing Job?

A permanent job offers a sense of safety, comfort and a secure future. Nevertheless, we see people constantly taking the plunge into contract jobs, leaving their permanent position behind. So why do people do that?

Leaving something so safe and swimming into something perceived as an abyss of the unknown!

According to ITContractorsUK , the number of self-employed professionals has increased by around 43% in the UK.

Well, as someone who has been working as a contractor for over ten years, I can tell you that it had its rewards. As a contractor, I have been rewarded with higher pay, a network of clients, flexible work hours, and much more challenging work. The decision wasn’t easy, nor was it made in haste, but it was worth it.

So, you are ready to leap into the contracting world? The first step is to understand and plan the transition. Ask yourself this question: “how do I transition from a permanent job to a contract job?”

If this is waht you are looking for, you have come to the right place! Here are few tips that will help you make the transition successfully.


01. Preparation

Polish your CV as much as possible with insights and advice from people willing to help you. Here is one thing that I learned the hard way: loads of people will be willing to give you free advice, but advice from people who have done it before extensively will help you most.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is get an example CV from a couple of established contractors, who have actually got contracts and have had regular work. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can, make that your plan A.

Talk to experienced contractors and learn from the success and horror stories they are willing to share. Growing a network of like-minded people at the start is key to preparing for the contracting world.

Most importantly, do your research on the current scenario in the market. Sharpen your skills. Get yourself acquainted with all the latest practices, standards, techniques, and technologies.

02. Know How to Find and Secure Contract Jobs

You need to be armed with a polished CV that is short, focused, and highlights your strength. You may even need to customise it for a more targeted approach towards specific clients.

Promote your profile on the contract job boards available in the market. You can make use of agencies or professional networks to get this done. You’ll need to follow-up with agencies and clients regularly to secure an interview.

Once you have secured the client interview, research what they do, what they need, and all the latest news related to them.

Be proactive in the meeting. Take time to understand the issues they are facing and show them how your skills can help tackle these issues successfully. The right pitch will help you come to an agreement on the rates with the client and close the deal swiftly.

03.Time Your Notice Period Right

I won’t recommend quitting the permanent job impulsively without a proper base. Lay a strong foundation and secure your position setting up as a contractor as you plan your exit.

Now the client may (or in most cases, will) not wait for you for three long months of the notice period, or even 30 days. Also, you don’t want to put yourself in a bad light in front of your employers.

You may need a positive reference from them. Talk to your boss, come up with a plan in which you can wind-down professionally with a phased handover, resulting in a shorter notice period.

Handing over notice period without any contracts in hand may be risky, but if you have done your research and preparations correctly, you will have no problems securing contracts after job.

Think of it this way, worse comes to the worst, you can go back to where you came from before or get another permy gig.

One cheeky technique I used, which minimises risk, but might upset a few agents, is I secured a perm position first, handed in my months notice, then kept looking for contract roles.

I actually landed a contract offer in that month window and took that offer instead. I figured worst comes to the worse, I will take the permanent role. 

04. Consider Setting Up a Company

You don’t need to go all solo here! You can use an umbrella company or set up a Private Limited company. In fact I started out with an umbrella. Then later on I moved to a company.

Using an umbrella company will take away the headache of taxes, payroll, accounts, and VAT returns from you. Another vital benefit that an umbrella company offers is it might free you from IR35 worries as well. Less financial and administration annoyance will allow you to focus more on getting the work done, and rake in more money.

Setting up a limited company has its own benefits as well. A limited company will help you gain credibility with new clients, help you claim more expenses (compared to umbrella company).

It will also offer limited liability protection in case things don’t work out as planned. The only downside to this is you’ll be loaded with lots of paperwork and administrative responsibilities as well.

Choose your company set up based on your circumstances and requirements. Contractors prefer limited company for a long-term plan. If you don’t want to take too many risks in the initial stage, an umbrella company offers a viable short-term solution.

Limited Company Vs Umbrella Company. Who Wins? 


05. Get Your Business Insured

No contractor is perfect. When you start out as a contractor, mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t you agree with me when I say that it's better to be safe than sorry?

A professional insurance adviser can help you with a policy tailored to your business needs. Sound business insurance can provide financial protection as well as liability cover, and ensure IR35 compliance.

In fact you may find that it is mandatory before you are allowed to start some contracts.

06. Don’t let Failure Get You Down

Whatever you do, do not procrastinate on if you may or may not fail. Consider the possibility that you have worked as a contractor for three months, and you are out of contract. What do you do next? One option that can be considered is getting back to the old permanent job, simple.

That is a viable option, for the time being at least if you are out of resources and investment. Accumulate the resources and capital required over a period and then come back again. If money is not an immediate issue, it’s time to reflect on the following:

  • Reflect on the daily activities performed over the last three months.
  • Assess your approach with measurable KPIs.
  • Ask yourself if the targeted goal is realistic?
  • Ask yourself if a change in approach is required or the change in goal?

It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t work out. The key is not to get frustrated.

I often find motivation by studying entrepreneurs who failed spectacularly before becoming successful


Final thoughts on Transitioning from a Permy to an IT Contractor

I’ll be honest! I was worried about failure in my first contract! I actually got lucky and started with a really nice contract with great people, in fact if it wasn't for the location, I would of stayed a lot longer.

The key, for me, to a successful transition from permanent job to a successful contract job was a measured, an organised, and a customer-centric approach.

If your question before reading this article was “how do I transition from a permanent job to a contract job?’’, I hope this article answered that question. Just remember you stand a good chance of earning a lot more as a contractor.

Before you go, lets go a bit deeper, with sone Contacting best practices:

5 Software Testing Contracting Best Practices


software testing contracting best practices

Working as software testers, we all can benefit knowing the best software testing practises. If we ask ourselves what the best practises are, the answer is not very clear, and in some cases subjective. 

The truth is that there are many and many practises which can be easily used for testing software. Also, it depends on a certain project.

Naturally, every project is different and unique, therefore we cannot always
apply the same set of software testing practises. Luckily, there are few
practises which we can apply as transferable no matter what project we try to
resolve.

In this article we will give you the insight into 5 software testing contracting best practises which will make you be a successful IT contractor in demand.

01.  Understanding a project and communication is the key

To understand a whole project sounds super simple, but is the most important practise you need to do as the first step of your software testing.

You will notice that the most valued workers, permy or contract, are the ones that have the most knowledge. If you are most valued you can set your own day rate and last a lot longer than any other tester, simply because you can become a valuable asset to the business, or as they say, "The Guru".

You also have to see the project from different perspectives (e.g. business or technical) to be able to get the right idea what exactly is expected from you. Do you have any question? Ask right away at the beginning.

The overall project objective understanding is crucial when you work in a team. Every team member has to their role and what part they take in a project but it is also absolutely necessary that you understand others’ job too.

Why? Because when there is any defect ascertained, you can
actively refer to this problem and help solve it out a lot faster.

When you are  a part of bigger testing team, don’t hide behind the walls and proactively communicate with other team members on daily basis.

Why is communication within a testing team so crucial? Imagine a situation when there is a defect repaired by someone who works in a different department.

You can help triage and resolve an issue faster, by having that in-depth knowledge.

2. Good planning is not a big deal

Basically, this practise you can apply on anything, really. If you want
to be a successful IT tester, you need to have a good plan. The right
planning and timing of tasks is everything. 

You can make notes on paper, type them down on your laptop and make a time schedule which helps you finishes your project on time. It is important to know what sources and tools you will use.

Have a test schedule ready to use. Moreover, you have to identify all risks you might come across. Identifying all possible risks will prevent you from slowing down your workflow and will keep your healthy work pace. 

The last but not least thing you have to do before you start working on your project is to find a suitable strategy and define it in details step by step how you will deliver a project in the best possible way. Planning strategy will help you
avoid unnecessary mistakes.

3. The importance of stakeholders and business reviews

Now, when you have defined your work plan and work strategy, you might
know about a project scenario.

You barely can skip this step as it is crucial to test scenarios and several reviews. Do you remember I previously mentioned how good when you look at an overall project from different perspectives is?

So, this is exactly what I was trying to say by that. It is very useful and
practical when you have reviews from business perspective. Stakeholders often
see project scenarios from different point of view than a testing team. Reviews
boost your confidence with testing scenarios and ensure the tester´s
understanding.

4. Getting data sets identified before the test execution

We are sure that as an IT expert you understand that every project is
unique in its own way. There are non-transferable universal tests you can apply
anytime. Unfortunately, software testing does not work this way.

In order to deliver the best project you have to develop many different types of tests. That includes positive and negative tests. When you start the test execution, you have to test data, too. When you identify the data, you might use several sources to get the data from, transform them or deliver them in different
systems.

This situation can cause few problems and slows down your workflow.
Thus, it is more than useful to identify data clearly even before the test
execution phase is started and get all the data ready for the
identification.

5. Make a template or try to get automatisation for your next project

You know very well how much time you spent on each project. You tried to
finish them smoothly according to your time schedule while still keeping your
workflow and quality pretty high.

You know how much effort and energy you put in every project. So, what if we tell you that in your next project you can save some time and energy by using a template or trying to apply the automate script.

First of all, try to find what causes you the biggest pain and consumes
the most of your time and secondly, have a think about the automation of this
area. How would you make it easier and quit the manual? What do you have to do to make it work? Sometimes you are lucky enough to find the automation during the execution part and that is pretty sweet, isn’t it?

If you really want to be a top IT expert, you better keep our 5
practises in your mind.

Of course, there is no need to use all of them in one project but they surely will make your life much easier, save you time and energy which you can devote to other activities such as relax, building your portfolio or searching for new clients.

Transitioning from a permanent employee t a contractor is challenging, but when you do get there, you need to make sure you become a great contractor so you can have a long career in the game.


What is included in the ISTQB Agile Syllabus?

So, What is included in the Syllabus?

At the time of writing the ISTQB Agile Extension is relatively new and many potential candidates, like yourself are interested in the Syllabus

These are three high level topics covered:

  1. Agile Software Development
  2. Fundamental Agile Testing Principles
  3. Agile Testing Method

Many people do not have an understanding of what is included in the ISTQB Agile Syllabus so I decided to put up all this useful information in this article.

These days, in the testing industry, you can't get away from the Agile methodology. When I first started testing, approx 17 years ago, the V-Model was the norm. Nowadays it is seen as quite an old fashioned methodology, albeit quit a solid one.

What is the ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension-Certification?

You may probably have an idea of what the extension certification is but I am going to provide a detailed description all the same.

Who needs the certification?

This Agile tester is very important to people who are directly involved with iterative projects and comes in handy to individuals such as test managers, user acceptance testers, software developers, testers and testers.

What Qualifications do you need for the  certification?

Apparently, you do not require a lot of qualifications to be eligible for the course. The certification requires you to have general knowledge of terminologies, processes and test designs of different software.

However, acquisition of the ISTQB Foundation-Certificate is considered to be an added advantage.

What we can You learn from the Agile tester certification?

This syllabus provides a useful insight into key aspects such as: a clear understanding of the fundamentals of Agile Software-development, mastering the skills and roles of a software tester as well as understanding differences of software testing using traditional methods and Agile techniques.

It will also familiarise you with Agile testing methods, processes, techniques, and tools. Another important lesson is acquiring the knowledge of quality risks involved in Agile projects.


What is the best ISTQB agile-certification book? 

If you are reading this article, there are high chances that you are probably one of the people mentioned above who need the ISTQB Agile syllabus. We are well aware that you may be asking yourself which is the best book to purchase and our answer is “ISTQB Agile-Tester: Agile testing lesson”. 

This book is printed in three versions whereby there is lesson one, two and three. The book is authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen.

The lesson one book will prepare you for the syllabus since it introduces you for all that you need to know about Agile Software-Development. The author takes you through the fundamentals of Agile processes as well as the principles of testing and software testing practices.

It will also equip you with agile testing techniques, tool and methods.

On reading the lesson 2, you will find that the author goes into details on the processes and practices and mentions the nine agile testing principles of software testing. The author systematical elaborates the differences in traditional testing methods and Agile approaches.

The lesson three book provides you with the rest of the information that you need to know about Agile techniques such as the acceptance criteria and important definitions. This is the book that we feel is good for anyone who wishes to have an understanding of Agile techniques that will enable the reader to acquire ISTQB agile certification.

Is the ISTQB agile tester one-for-all all-for-one Book any good? 

This is a 117-page book authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen designed to take the reader through comprehensive know-how of the ISTQB Agile-Test Foundation materials.

It is a good book. The book takes you through detailed information regarding Agile Software-Development. As a reader, this book will ensure that you acquire necessary information on this type of software development such as tools, principles, practices, testing methods and techniques, and processes.

The author appreciates the fact that all the stakeholders in software development should act in collaboration to ensure that a project is successful. For this reason, the book is titled “one-for-all all-for-one” which is a slogan used by the famous three musketeers. The book stresses on collaborative practices by the stakeholders because the failure of one will ultimately lead to the failure of the entire team. The reverse is also true.

What is the best ISTQB agile-tester preparation?

Like any other exam, passing will entirely depend on how much you have prepared yourself. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to acquire the ISTQB Agile-Tester certification and therefore we advise you to follow the following procedure.

  1. Studying: The first step to passing certification is studying your reading materials. We suggest that you go through the book we have recommended “ISTQB Agile-Tester: Agile-testing lesson”. You should ensure that you go through all the three lessons at least 3-4 times. This will ensure that you grasp the concept of Agile Software-development and prepare you for any questions on the same.

  2. Booking the exam: Even if you study and publish your own book, you will not get the tester certification if you do not take the exam. Once you feel confident that you are ready, visit ISTQB’s website www.istqb.org to find a registered exam provider within your area. You will be required to provide your personal details such as passport or ID number, name as well as place & date and Foundation-level certificate number if you have one. After you have provided this information, you can proceed with making the payment.

  3. Checking the exam structure: The exam is based on multiple choice questions that are distributed evenly across three chapters. The chapters 1, 2 and 3 have 13, 12 and 15 questions respectively. The total number of questions is 40 and you are required to answer 26 or more correctly to pass the exam.

    We also recommend you to familiarise yourself with the sample paper and answer sheet provided by the ISTQB.


​The Importance of the Agile Tester Extension

For people who are in the Information Technology field, ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is an important element that not only improves your chances of getting employment, but also enhances your skills.

I realised that every business organisation has incorporated IT into their business processes with large organisations having an IT department.

As an IT expert, you are required to have extensive knowledge of Agile-Software Development and to prove this, an ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is necessary.

If you are preparing yourself to get certified, I strongly recommend that you go through this article again consider reading the suggested books.

I guarantee you that this will prepare you for the exams which will eventually lead to certification. If the article has been helpful, I urge you to leave your sentiments in the comments section and share the same with your friends on your favourite social media platform.

5 Things you Need to do to Get a Certified Agile Tester Job

certified agile tester jobs


Getting the Agile certification is one thing, getting a job is another.

I had a friend, an excellent software tester, arrogant even! He had joined a new organisation recently. Now, this organisation used the agile methodology integrated within all its practices.

He didn’t last three months there! So why did he fail? Despite being a good and experienced tester, he lacked certain qualities that are required of an Agile software tester.

So, you’ve only worked as a traditional Software Tester throughout your career. You don’t get involved much in the development stage and usually come in only at the end of the product development stage.

But now you have recognised that more and more companies are adopting agile development methodology. In fact, according to Project Management Institute, 71% of organisations use the agile approach sometimes, often or always.

They don’t want a traditional tester anymore! They want to work with a certified Agile Tester who will collaborate with the team throughout the development cycle. With Agile methodology, the testing needs to be done iteratively with each release to ensure that the client requirements are met.

To get an Agile Tester job, you need to move away from the daily routine that you performed as a part of traditional QA team. Let’s look at five things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job:


01. Get Your Certifications and Gain Working Knowledge

Start assimilating every information you get about agile methodology. Ask yourself these fundamental questions like:

  • What is agile?
  • How does agile relate to testing?
  • Why agile?
  • What are the principles of agile methodology?

The Agile Manifesto is a great resource for deep diving into each of these.

Once you understand the basics, focus on acquiring the technical skills necessary to be a successful agile tester. You can boost your knowledge base with additional certifications.

Here are few of them recommended by CIO:

Apart from the certification courses, make sure you gain working knowledge of the agile processes and learn the right tools that support agile testing.

2. Learn to Communicate and Collaborate

As an Agile tester, you’ll be working closely with the developers and stakeholders than ever before. You’ll need to brush up your communication skills as you’ll be working in a highly collaborative environment, attending standup meetings, looking at burndown charts, etc.

Once you find a defect in the product, you’ll need to communicate it immediately to the developer. You may even need to allow them to use your system to let them debug and solve the problem as quickly as possible. You may also be asked to present complete information regarding critical defects and the time it took to patch them to the key stakeholders.

You may also need to help the members of your team who may need assistance in completing their part of the project. You need to understand that you are not a “back-office” personnel anymore, but part of a team that is working together to deliver a project successfully. Clear communication and collaboration is key to that success.

According to a VersionOne survey, 63% respondents blamed the clash between business culture and Agile business philosophy for the failure of Agile implementations.

Want to know what a capable, agile team would look like? Watch this Rob Lambert video for the answer: 

3. Learn to Embrace Change

Instead of most people staying true to their human nature, always tend to resist change! Now moving from traditional practice to agile is a significant change as well. In an agile environment, you are not only expected to accept changes but also deal with them effectively. You need to adopt new practices and responsibilities. One minute you are working on developing a new feature, next moment you are working on redesigning the same feature based on client feedback.

Asking the right questions to your team and understanding client requirements before you start working on it is the way to go. Doing so will significantly reduce the change in your tasks and disruptions mid-project. Regularly groom and reassess the backlogs in case of disruptions. They are natural in big projects, and the benefit of agile methodology is that the interruption will only affect the current phase of the project rather than the entire project. Don’t cope with change, welcome it!

4. Programming is Important, Now More Than Ever

I am sure you’ll agree with me when I say that knowledge of a bit of programming will help you test the software more effectively. Organisations will consider you as a critical asset and powerful addition to their team if you have developed testing skills with the technical know-how of programming as well.

In an agile environment, knowledge in coding has become crucially beneficial to testers. This knowledge will help you execute your tasks efficiently and swiftly. No need to annoy developers for every little query related to coding anymore!

Did you know that coding is key to a test automation career? Learn about it yourself. And this where I take you to the next section...

5. Learn to Automate

As we read earlier, changes and disruptions are constant in an agile environment. Code needs to be tested every time it is changed, and manual testing will simply take too much time. You must know how to automate your tests and speed up the regression testing process.

Knowledge of coding is significantly useful in learning test automation as test steps can be coded and then can be reused to execute other scripts as well. Combine the knowledge of coding and automation, and you can be a significant QA force for your organisation.

Final Thoughts On Agile Jobs

Agile changes a lot, whether it is the pace of the development process, your KPIs, or how you collaborate with your team. However, fundamentally you are still a software tester.

These are the 5 things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job. Master these five essential skills, and you’ll be a valued addition to any organisation as an agile tester.

What are your thoughts on the points listed above? Do you agree with me? If not, do share your perspective in the comments below. If you liked what you read, please hit the like button below and don’t forget to share it with your friends and colleagues. 

 Before you go, lets look at taking action and look at the actual dates of the exam:

How can I Find the ISTQB agile tester extension certification exam dates?

ISTQB agile tester extension certification exam dates

Exam Dates 

Since ASTQB exams are conducted globally, they are issued on different dates depending on where you wish to have them. You are therefore required to find out where the exam dates of your preferred locality are being issued.

However, it is important to note that these exams are not issued in all cities and therefore you should select the location that is most convenient for you.

There are many places where this information can be sourced but we advise you look for the information on ISTQB’s website. It will assist you in identifying an exam provider within your locality that is licensed by the organization.

It is important to use their website since there are cases where people have cheated only to pay for counterfeited certifications.

Exam Dates in India

Lets look at one particular location, for example, ITB (Indian Testing-Board) is the ISTQB-approved national  board of India that conducts ISTQB certified tester exams in India.

ITB was founded in February 2004 and was officially recognised by ISTQB in April 2004. Right from 2014,  ITB has issued more than 60,000 certifications across the country.

ITB has already announced the dates and locations of the Agile-Tester
Extension-Certification Exam
for the year 2018. They will be held in
Bangalore, Noida, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Trivandrum, Kolkata, and
Chennai. The exam will be held in these cities throughout the year.

Once you have booked and confirmed your seat for the exam at a scheduled
date, keep a close eye on any communication you receive from ITB before
your exam. The exam dates or venue may change, and they will inform you
via email or message about the change.

Entry Requirements, Test Procedure, and Structure

You must be I.S.T.Q.B Foundation Level certified [ISTQB Foundation Level certified] before you apply for Agile Tester Extension Certification Exam.

Who is This certification exam ideal for?

These are the ideal candidates:

  • Software testers with significant experience in traditional methodology but new to the agile environment.
  • Entry-level software testers with a noteworthy interest in agile testing.
  • Software testers with little or strong knowledge of agile testing looking to gain professional recognition or boost their current profile.

What is the format of the Agile Exam?

The exam is conducted in two formats: Public Exam and Corporate Exam. We will look at the schedule of the public exam below. If you have a group of minimum ten candidates willing to appear for the exam within your corporate premise, the board will visit your office and conduct the test.

The ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension-Certification Exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions. You need to answer these questions within 60 minutes. You also need to score at least 65%, i.e., answer at least 26 questions correctly out of 40 to pass the test.

You can get complete details about the exam structure to help you.

Helpful Study Material

There is an abundant amount of study material available on the market that can help you prepare for this test.

You can consider borrowing, renting, purchasing any of the following books/e-books:

  • AGILE TESTING I.S.T.Q.B TESTER EXTENSION-CERTIFICATION by Chhavi-Raj Dosaj
  • Sample Exam-Questions- I.S.T.Q.B Foundation-Level Agile-Tester Extension-Exam by Chhavi-Raj Dosaj
  • I.S.T.Q.B Agile Tester: "One-for-all, all-for-one" by Steen Lerche-Jensen
  • Agile Testing: A Practical-Guide for Testers & Agile-Teams by Lisa Crispin

I highly recommend reading the books mentioned above as they provide excellent fundamental knowledge of Agile testing.

You can consider refereeing Study Guides from following websites:

You can also view these study videos (Note: they are not the most updated ones. However, significant points covered are still relevant)

Even if you don’t plan to apply for the exam, these study materials will boost your knowledge regarding understanding the overall scope of testing in any project.

Final Words on ISTQB Agile Certification Exam Dates

You have the exam dates! You have access to the study materials! You know the syllabus!

I hope that this guide helps you with all the information you need to prepare well for the exam and pass it successfully. If you have more news or insights that you feel is missing above or if you have any questions or queries, let me know in the comments below.

Did you find this guide helpful? Spread the word by sharing it with your colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Hit the Like and Share Button below!

5 IT Contractor Phone Interview Questions That Might Trip You Up

The difference between a face-to-face interview and phone interview is not much. In fact, the goal for both interviews are the same and that is to provide the interviewer with evidence that their criteria are met.

In phone interviews, your voice is the only channel you are using. Therefore, the quality of your voice should reflect your emotional being and can influence the result of the interview.


A phone interview is part of the selection process and usually comes after the candidate is shortlisted. It is a deciding factor whether you will proceed with the next interview or in some cases whether you are awarded the contract.

You have to ace this interview and to better prepare you for your phone interview, this article provides the guide for you to stand on a good stead whether you are applying for a local or international contract.



Five Fundamental Aspects You Need to Remember:


  1. Client Criteria: Most clients are looking for these qualities among
    their candidates: flexibility, dependability, productivity, likeability,
    affordability, and availability. Among these criteria, these three are the most important: Likeability, Productivity, and Dependability.
  2. Prepare and provide evidence. You should not only be ready with evidence on how you are as a productive worker, this can be determined by your responses. However, like-ability and dependability are usually answered with reference to what you have done in the past as if how you solved a problem or how you beat a deadline even in difficult circumstances.
  3. Having the best approach. Make sure that your voice reflects your
    eagerness to respond to the questions.
  4. Ask questions. By asking questions, it shows that you are in a positive
    frame of mind and that you want to know more about the contract. This also reflects your like-ability.
  5. Leaving a good impression. Make sure that you leave a lasting impression on the interviewer by asking relevant questions, engaging the client in the conversation and most importantly show in your voice that you enjoyed the interview.

By taking note of these basic fundamentals, you are now ready to take your phone interview.

Whether you are the interviewee or the interviewer, you must also know the top five questions that IT Contractor asks when they are conducting the phone interview, obviously permanent employees could use these tips too, but it is even more vital for contractors.

This will prepare both the parties in navigating through the phone interview and getting what they want out of the exercise.


A common IT contractor interview features a lot of questions to probe the candidate competency. To have a better picture, we have grouped together the IT contractor interviews into groups.

There are the standard questions, which are common in most job interviews. There are the Curve Ball IT questions that are sometimes not asked at all. The answer to the curved ball question will show whether the candidate has thoroughly researched about the company they want to get into.


There are also conversational questions wherein the skills of an IT contractor will be put to test. Most of these questions are skill based and allows a back and forth conversation between the two parties.

You must be able to recall a relevant experience in trying to prove your competency. In addition, there is also an in-depth look into
the competency of the interviewee. Senior management most often does the
competency-style type of interviewing.


It is hard to predict the questions that you will be asked on your phone interview, but to help you navigate the
interview we have compiled the five IT Contractor interview questions that are
frequently asked during interviews.


The 5 Questions That Might Trip You Up!

Here are the lists of these questions that might help you get that contract on your next phone interview.


  1. How well do you work with others?
    A standard question that will determine the candidate's attitude when working with others. A company would want to know that their IT person could easily and patiently communicate with others when tempers are out of control. You also want to know whether they will
    cooperate to solve an issue.

    Usually, an interviewer will an ask the candidate to relay a situation related to the incident. They also want the interviewee to answer in a language that common employees can understand not filled with techno jargons.
  2. Can you explain a Situation Where you had to Bend the Rules to meet a deadline?
    Anything that has a negative slant to it typically trips you up, we all want to sound perfect on an interview, and this is designed to cut cr*p and find out what you are really like.

    The key to this question is giving them a realistic solution, but be careful about how far you bent the rules, if it is too crazy, they could reconsider hiring you. 

    This is a great opportunity to inject some humour and win over your new boss.
  3. Can You Explain a Testing Decision you made, that you later regretted?
    Again, a slightly negative question designed to make you stutter and blunder, but stay composed.

    Think of a basic error you made. The most important thing is making sure you have a good story about how you have learned from it, and how you have used that experience to improve as a tester.
  4. Why Should we Even Hire You?
    This is a cut-to-the-chase type of question. They want to see how confident you are and what, deep down, you think you can bring to the role.

    Don't be alarmed if this is asked in a very direct, straight faced manor, some managers do this to psych you it, look them in the eye and explain why you are the best person for the role.
  5. What is Your Biggest Weakness?
    Think about this carefully, do not say something like "I am really sh*t at testing", that would be interview ended!

    You need to explain something that you are working to improve that you feel could be achieved in your new role. You are showing them how you can grow and develop in the role.

The questions listed above are merely scratching the surface and as of this writing may have mutated into probing the candidate further to get to know them better. The contract market is fast and furious and if you are not prepared to take the phone interview, you will be eliminated fast!

The best tool in acing a phone interview is to practice with these questions because it is not all about technology specific questions. The weight of the decision in granting you the contract relies more on your attitude and behaviour.


5 Reasons Why You Even Consider Software Testing Contracting as a Career

software testing contract as a career


A software tester is a person who tests the software built by other developers and finds the bugs and problems in the codes, and fixes them for the developers. They are skilled in software engineering.

A software tester is an important person for developers because they are the ones who make sure that the software developed by the developers meet the intended requirements and meet the usages of the targeted audience.


There are many software testers and software engineers. Not many people, outside of the IT industry really understand what a tester really does, the motivation for taking the role or the benefits of being a software tester.

Whether you are a software tester or willing to become one, here are the 5 reasons why you should consider a software testing contracting as a career:


1. High Demand for Work

As we know, there are thousands of software developers. You can find software for everything, be it food services, financial services or insurance, they all require software. As the number of developers and the requirement of software has increased, there is an increasing need for Software testers too. In fact, there is a high demand for software testers.

The career opportunities are increasing and it would be easier to get a job. You don't necessarily have to be working for a company. What awaits you is a prosperous career with a high paying day rate and you will be in good demand by companies. You can even get a managerial post. All you need to do is to work hard.

2. Challenging Work to Keep You Interested

You don't need to worry about the job being so boring like other jobs that you find. Many people quit jobs because they are fed up with doing the same thing again and again.

But a career of a software tester is so different. It is challenging. It is not always the same. There are many puzzles and problems to solve. If you don't want to have a boring job, then Software testing is the best career option for you.

You won't find it to be boring. You will face difficult situations and needed to solve them which make it more complex and challenging. You need to view the software in different perspectives and different angles. But the satisfaction that you get after fixing the defects and completing the project is incomparable. This is a professional career which needs thinking skills and logical skills along with the knowledge in software engineering.

3. Constant Learning - Fast Moving

It is a constant-learning career. There is always more to learn in a software testing career. You will come across different types of software and methodologies.

By testing and fixing the software you are learning new skills. You learn from each mistake you make and this will act as a knowledge bank when you do the testing next time. There will always be a team behind you to support you and ensure that you have all proper resources to learn.


You will be continuously growing and learn, thus improving your experiences and thus raising the chances for higher positions and better jobs from big companies. It throws challenges at you. You need to stretch your mind and think of different ways to find solutions. It is also about generating ideas. It is the only field in IT where you need to find different solutions and ideas and apply them to do your work.

4. Rewarding

You don't need to always work for someone without taking pride in what you have done. That is what generally happens for other kinds of jobs. They work and then they leave. They are not doing anything great. But for a software tester, you are going to help your company build a better product. You have the right to be proud of what you have done for the company or the people you work for.

If you want to do something different and become a person whom the team members values, then software testing contracting is the best career option for you. You make the impact on the project of the company daily. You will be an important and crucial member of the company. You decide the limit. You are in demand. So you will have more significance among others. There is a misconception that everyone can test. And thus the tester is having a rewarding career with satisfaction and happiness.

5. Strong Community

Software testers have a very strong community for them. They interact and discuss the problems faced. There are many members in the communities in Linked in and Stack Overflow to Twitter. They all have each other's back. They enjoy themselves by making new friends, discussing and also sharing their thoughts and messaging the members in their free time. The community is strong and insanely supportive and robust.

You won't face any problems while working. If you can't solve a problem, you can ask in the community, and members who have experienced similar challenges and who have found the solution for that will answer your query and you can get going.

The members always give a positive vibe while working. These communities are proven to be a real life saver, with motivations and job discussions. You will find many likeminded people. Sometimes these communities conduct gatherings for the members to relax and take a break from the work environment.

Other Benefits of Software Testing Contracting

Software testing contracting is an amazing career for those with good analytic skills. A software tester can have a very good career life with daily challenges to keep you engaged.

Another major thing is, it pays really well. As long as you can keep in work, the rates are lucrative, scope to increase your rate, you can claim expenses, and gives you a great opportunity to provide for your family. 

This career gives you a creative and challenging work experience and to support you with more resources to learn, you will have your team behind you. 

Did you enjoy this piece of information? Was this valuable to you? Please let me know your opinions in the comment section below.

What is the Agile Methodology discussed in the ISTQB certification?

The Agile methodology comprises a set of values and principles applied in the processes for developing software just like other software development methodologies such as the Waterfall model. The word “agile” refers to the capability of something to move easily and rapidly. This is a major feature of the Agile methodology.


When used, it takes a shorter timeframe to complete a project when compared to other methodologies. Iterations are used in Agile projects to deliver prearranged features. The following information will improve your understanding on what is the Agile methodology discussed in the ISTQB certification.

Key Phases Involved in Agile Methodology

  1. The Concept Phase: During this first step, you and your team analyzes and arranges projects in order of importance. Each concept will require a definition of the business opportunity and how much time it will take to deliver the project.

    Once this information is compiled, you will be able to determine the achievability of each project and know which one is worth working on.

  2. The Inception Phase: Here, you will work on the requirements with the stakeholders. You can create a flow chart that explains how the feature you’re developing should work.

    You then choose people who work on your team and develop a timeline for each activity showing when specific work needs to be completed for the length of the sprint.

  3. The Iteration Phase: The developers and designers start to work on the initial iteration of the project. Their main goal here is to create a working product at the end of the given timeframe. This is just the first iteration as the product will go through quite a number of adjustments.

  4. The Release Phase: To complete the software iteration, the system is tested for errors or malfunctions. The user and system documentation are finalized for everyone to get a clear picture on how the system works and how they can improve it. After this, the iteration is released into production.

  5. The Production Phase: In this phase, your team works at ensuring the system functions smoothly and trains the users how to work with it.

  6. The Retirement Phase: It is in this final step that you move the system from production, more so when you’re ready to replace it with another release.

So What Exactly is an Agile Sprint?

An Agile sprint refers to the specific duration of time during which certain tasks have to be finished and prepared to be reviewed. Sprints usually last for about 10 working days and comprise the following steps:

  • A planning meeting where the team gets together and discusses the mechanisms for the forthcoming work.
  • Designing and developing the product keeping the official guidelines in mind.
  • Testing the results and documenting them.
  • Presenting the product to the client.
  • Gathering feedback from the client and integrating it in the next sprint.

What Does the Agile Scrum Refer To?

The Scrum is a subdivision of the Agile methodology. It is the most commonly used set of practices for Agile development. In simpler terms, it is a framework used to manage processes involved in a project. Scrum is mostly used when developing intricate software through the use of iteration practices.

It is preferred due to the fact that it reduces time and increases your team’s productivity. In addition, Scrum makes allows you to easily adjust to changes in product requirements. It helps you to:

  • Handle change easily.
  • Improve the quality of the finished product.
  • Take control of the project timeline.
  • Give the best estimates while simultaneously using less time to create them.

Scrum is dependent on a team that is self-organizing, such that the entire team will together make decisions on who will be assigned what task. Also, everyone in the team must have the ability to develop a feature from the concept to execution phase.

There are two major roles in the Scrum model; the Scrum Master who is basically the team leader and the Product Owner/PO who is the customer/user.

So what is Agile Design?

When you think about it carefully, agile design refers to the implementation of Agile development principles to the design process. Due to the fact that every designer on your team is different, it is important for you to choose the best techniques that work for you and get accustomed to them as you move on.


Some of these principles include:

  • Involving your clients in every step of the processes: This is the best way for you to ensure that the client gets a clear understanding of what they are working towards as opposed to conventional design processes that work at a creating a perfect final end-product.
  • Compile work from your teams regularly: This will help you to detect bugs or issues that may interfere with the overall product and fix them immediately or note them down to be adjusted in the next iteration.
  • Always Carry Out Tests: Frequent testing will allow your team to identify and solve problems and this will consequently catalyze your team’s creativity.

What Are the Most Common Tools Used in Agile Design?

In order to be successful, designers and developers need to seamlessly work together.
The following are some of the most common collaboration tools and software used in Agile design:

  • Slack: A chat application that keeps your team updated every minute.
  • Justinmind: A prototyping tool for both mobile and web applications.
  • Asana: Assists your teams to plan their projects and organize daily activities through a platform the enables them to track the status of their jobs.
  • Agreedo: Helps your team to plan scrum meetings.
  • ProductPlan: Assists with creating roadmaps which help your team to visualize the strategy.

To sum it up, the Agile Methodology has proven to be the best with regards to using less time in the software development process. Did you enjoy this detailed explanation regarding the Agile Methodology? I chose to cover the areas as presented so as to explain the main components involved in this methodology and in the simplest way possible.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your feedback and if you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to share it with others who would be interested in the subject.

How Much Should I Charge as an IT Contractor?


It was a long drive, I finanly got out of my 8 year old car, happy that it got me to the interview on time and in one piece. This was my first interview as a contractor and I had no idea what to expect, let alone how much I am worth.

2 days later, I got a call back saying they like me, and want to over me a 3 month contract. The next question was, "what is your rate?".

In all honesty I had no idea what to say, the agent gave me a typical range, and I decided to say somewhere in the middle. He said fine all to quickly, meaning he was happy because he got me at a rate that was lower than he was expcting.

If I was to do that again, after the years of experience I have now, I would have taken time to research the market and see my market rate. Once I established that, considering I was new to contracting, I would have pitched myself close to that.

Once you are established, you can obvioulsly go higher based on your skills and how closely it matches the role. The reality is, if the company has spent money on interviewing you, and made you an offer, they want to land you as soon as possible. Finding a good candidate is time consuming and costly for them, remember that.

Other things to consider before you make the plunge:

What is IR35?

Being an IT contractor means you are self-employed. Have you ever come across the term IR35? If no, then it is high time you know what it is in order to
prosper in this field. Paying taxes is very important. Whether one is employed
or works as self-proprietor.

IR35 was designed to ensure that those working as self-employed do not evade paying taxes. The IR35 applies to limited companies and those who offer their services by the use of broker or middlemen.

The emergence of disguised employment by most of the organization led to the creation of ir35. Disguised employment is where a company employee works on a contract with the company by the use of the middlemen.

As an IT contractor. Knowledge of IR35 is vital as it brings to your mind that you will never evade taxes. By not evading taxes, you have to set your rates having at the back your mind that what you have set will sustain you after the tax-man has gone with his share.

How can l increase my rates?

After discussing IR35 brings me to  another important question that a lot of new contractors ask, How can l increase my rates? 

Increasing your rates as an IT contractor is important to maximising your potential income. Two factors should come into your mind when thinking of how to maximize your potential income.

First, it is important to understand the factors influencing the demand for your services.

Second, what is your personal potential to command a higher rate? This is based on the value you bring to the game.

Let us begin by looking at these factors :

  • The general economy – every successful business is pinned on the general outlook of a given economy. When the economy is on a boom, then be assured your business as an IT contractor will boom too.

    However, when the economy is gloomy, for example a recession, expect nothing better. For the past 10 years, the IT contracting industry has registered a boom. Why a boom? Because the economy has been recovering from the last major recession of 2008.

    And also many private and public firms feel it is cheaper seeking services from freelance workers as compared to employing new workforce permanently.

    Although contractors earn more in the short term, these workers work on contract basis, therefore after the expiry of your contract the company is done with you.

  • The need for IT specialists – there is a massive positive growth in the IT industry from the past years. For instance in the United Kingdom recently, a research reveals that the digital jobs have grown to more than 1.5 million.

    This growth calls for the demand of IT experts. Therefore putting the IT contracting job on demand.

  • Geographical location – as an IT contractor, where you are situated directly influences the charges you render for your services. If you live in an area where IT contracting services are not in demand then most definitely your rates will be lower.

    But if you are situated in a place where your services sell like hot cake, then you shall charge higher rates.

  • Your personality – IT contracting involves relating to people. You are not working for robots, you work for people.

    The way you approach people and work with them will greatly impact on whether you are likely to receive that raise your rates or not, or even stay there for the longer term. Being tactful, and understanding office politics is vital here.

  • Added new skills – in case you have just acquired some new skills while working on your current project. You should demonstrate these skills. Demonstrating the new skills should put you in a position of getting more pay.

  • Nature of the client – nature involves if you are working for the client through a broker or it is a direct client. If it is a direct client, then expect a higher pay as compared to when a broker is included.

What is a Contract Extension?

After knowing some of the things to bare at the back of your mind on increasing the rate. Another vital question arises, as an IT contractor. Your work basically is based on contract. No permanent employment.

You may sign a contract with a given company. Start working, in the due working process or after the end of your contract, the company management may be impressed with your work. They may decide to prolong your task. This is what referred to as a contract extension. It entails extending your end date to secure more work.

In my experience I have known some contractors working at companies, on contract, longer than the employees, so it can be good practice to keep the client sweet to secure more work.

Do l need an accountant?

Working hard, receiving good recommendations from various people and contract extensions from various companies. is a sign of a positive growth, more cash is flowing into your business.

With the steady inflow of money into your business. There may be a need to employ someone who will help you in the management of your cash.

In my opinion, an accountant is best practise, it will save you a lot of headache and they can help you identify things that you may have overlooked.

Do Contractors get raises?

Being a freelance or a self-employed person. The question, do contractors get raise? May sound ambiguous. Why? Because you are not permanently employed by someone.

But my answer is yes. But it really is in the form of rate increases, typically negotiated on an extension (see above). 

The Next Step

Knowing how much to charge is just one part of the puzzle, understanding how to to structure your business, claim expenses, growing and retain your income are also important parts to master with the right knowledge and experience of contracting.

Once you master what to charge, the next challenge is understating how to negotiate a rate increase.

How To Negotiate A Rate Increase As An IT contractor

how to negotiate a rate increase


You may believe that you know about IT contracting and everything related to it. But do you know the 5 ways to negotiate a rate increase as an IT contractor? Don't worry, I've got you covered. We will be discussing that in this article.

As an IT contractor, negotiation is a vital stage in your career. Negotiation depends on several factors like your keenness to do the work, your skills, and experience, the demand as well as the complexity of the work. But whenever you negotiate, you should weigh the opportunity cost and ensure it is fairly higher. At the very least, never negotiate against yourself.

Let's begin the discussion, shall we?

1. Should Have A Valid Reason

It is never advisable to ask for a raise for the sake of it. It is very important to consider yourself as a client and think about whether it is really worth giving a raise to the contractor. This is our first and indeed most important point. You should have a valid reason for asking for the raise. Because nobody can get a raise without proving they deserve it. It is not that easy. When you are paying a dollar, it needs to be worthy.

So make sure that you deserve this raise before you ask the client for it, because there is a chance that the client will cancel the offer. If you have enough experience and skills to show your client as well as any previous works that you have done, and any good achievements, do not shy off from showing it as it will really count. The negotiation will also affect the competency in the market. Don't just wait for another offer with a higher payment, because that won't happen all the time. So make sure to utilize all the opportunities.

2. Performance Is Key

Whatever you do, for any price it is, always ensure to deliver quality work. Never compromise on quality, because that defines who you really are. Therefore, no matter what the payment is, if the quality is good, that will make a good reference for yourself. Always ensure the quality of your work is impeccable.

The more you provide a better outcome, the more the client will value your service. They will eventually become a regular client, then you can ask for a raise, considering the services that you have done so far because they will now be more dependent on you. Though you might have the skills, it might not expressly qualify you for a raise. What is important is to achieve the results. The rule of thumb is to always work for a good reference because that is what going to get you more offers from more clients. Always try to get the best results, no matter what’s at stake.

3. Note Your Extra Responsibilities

Often large contracts mean that you might even crossover the roles such that you might be doing what you didn't expect to do. It is often possible that you end up doing things that you didn't offer in the contract. As we know, flexibility is good, but always sure that you get paid for everything that you do.

You don't want to work for free so make a list of what you have done while working on the project. Mention them to the client while submitting the project and ask for the payment for the works done. If possible, ask the details and ensure you see to it that the employer is very specific about the tasks. There is no harm in telling the employer that anything else done other than the mentioned tasks would be considered as extras and should be paid for as such. This will help you in assured payment.

Another angle on this, is just getting on and doing this work, but keeping a note of the extra tasks you are taking on. Then when it comes to negotiation, you can use these extra tasks to justify the rate increase.

4. Know The Right Time To Negotiate

how to negotiate a rate increase

For an IT contractor, it is important to choose the right time to negotiate. Choosing the right time to approach the employer is vital.

For instance, you can't ask the employer for a raise during a time of recession or in any other situation where they are running short of money. Similarly, you can't ask for a raise within a few weeks of your recruitment. This is because it is more or less like asking too much without even deserving it.

Remember, there is a time that is required to prove your skills and quality of work, to the employer. So after achieving the set goals and objectives, it is okay to ask for a raise.

It is always better if you have a justification to get the raise and the general convention is that you approach your employer four to six weeks before the ending of the previous contract. This will give you enough time for you to show your works and skills and also get you the time to negotiate before the contract gets renewed.

5. Be Ready To Face The Outcome

If you ask for a raise and you happen to get a 'No' from the employer's side, then you will have two option to consider. If they can't provide the raise because they can't afford to pay you a higher amount of increased overheads, you better take that offer and notify them about having a conversation when times are better.

On the other hand, you can just resign from the job stating that it is not good enough for you. But the important thing to remember is that you need to be prepared for the outcome of this decision too.

If you are planning to resign, then you better find an alternate project or work, so that you can turn down the project confidently. You need to work yourself out the solution first as being idle is not good for an IT contractor. Remember that while the alternative job will take care of the rents and payments, securing it might not be easy without the points that we mentioned before.

Final Thoughts on Negotiating a Rate Increase

Before you negotiate, be sure of what you want, what you deserve, and also be ready to walk away if you need to. If not, then don't ask for another chance at negotiation. I would say that handling the scenario without affecting the relationship between you and the employer is most preferred.

Value your employer the most. Don't trouble them in their hardest times. Just make sure to ask for the negotiation at the right time.

The above-discussed points form the golden rules when thinking of the best ways to negotiate a rate increase as an IT contractor. I believe this discussion will help you figure out the problems and confusions that most of you were facing. I hope it has given a clear view of what you required.

Did you enjoy this piece of information? Was this valuable to you? Please let us know your opinions in the comment section below.

Can IT Contractors Claim Expenses?

In my early days of contracting, I will be honest, I really didn't fully understand expenses. I was booking expensive hotel accommodation, eating hotel breakfast and didn't really grasp that my own company was picking up the bill. After experience in contracting I learned more about this. So my aim is to help you save the headache I had learning, without the years of contract experience, with this article.

So the important question that we are going to discuss is can IT contractors claim expenses? And the short answer for it is yes, IT contractors can claim business expenses. As a matter of fact, it is one of the main benefits of an IT contractor.

Business expenses are the money or costs incurred while doing business and these can be claimed as an expense. You don't have to pay tax on the amount. You will have to pay some money at first for your business, but then your company will reimburse you.

So let us begin with discussing 5 reasons why you should consider software testing contracting as a career, of course, basing our arguments on the possibility of claiming their expenses.

Can Contractors Get A Mortgage?

Contractors face difficulty in getting a mortgage when compared to the full-time workers, but of course, you can get a mortgage as an IT contractor. When you walk into a high-street bank for a mortgage, you will more than likely have a sad experience, because they focus more on full-time job workers. Even if you have a large income and solid documentation for that income, you will not be able to get a mortgage from that bank.

But then, some banks are still prepared to give you a mortgage agreement in Principle. The mortgage providers calculate the annual income from the money you get per hour or per day, and with that income, they come to a choice of a contractor. Select the best scheme for you. Some mortgage schemes allow you to overpay while you work and then to use the equity when you are not working.

Can Contractors Get Maternity Pay?

Just as in the case of a mortgage, it is unlikely for IT contractors to get maternity pay, when compared to normal workers. In fact you may as well assume that will never happen.

While you enjoy the full freedom as freelancers, life takes a twist and turn when you decide to settle and have a family. According to Victoria Phillips, head of employment rights at Thomsons Solicitors, you can get maternity pay only if you are entitled as an employee rather than a contract worker.

Can Contractors Get Bonuses?

Contractors can receive a bonus while staying outside IR35. However, a simple word in the documentation can ruin your IR35 investigation. For example, according to contractorcalculator, if you mention bonus as 'bonus', it is deemed as a term for regular employees. 

So a contractor needs to be careful with their paperwork.It is also important to professionally review your IR35 status by experts.

Apart from the terminology, it is important how you accept a contract with an automatic payment of 'bonuses'. Another thing to note is that you can't get bonuses in the period of the contract because it is implied that you are doing work in exchange for the incentive payment. T

Can Contractors Get Redundancy Pay?

Yes, contractors can get redundancy payment. The ruling can be used by IT contractors with fixed-term contracts of four or more years. If the employer fails to renew the contract after four or more years, then the contractor can get redundancy pay. An employee has to be made redundant by the employer, for getting redundancy. Just understand that a fixed term contract is different to the conventional contractor with his own company.

A contractor with his own small company or director of a company can claim himself as redundant but is still not going to work. And if the contractor agrees to the contract with a higher payment, they should agree upon not leaving or resigning to claim the redundancy pay.

These are the conditions to get redundancy pay:
Evidence that the contractors were expected to turn up at work and be provided with work Proof they were only allowed to work for the same employer
The existence of an employee working for the same employer in a comparable job Agency workers are unable to claim redundancy under the regulations

Can Contractors Attend A Work Christmas Party?

Attending a Christmas party is a potential issue with IR35. There has been well-known test cases that tend to suggest that this simple invitation can be be deemed as an invite to an employee. 

Politically, it is good to accept and network at a Christmas do. It makes you feel like part of the team and build a bond with your co-workers. But it may be worth considering paying for this, so it is not seen as a an employee benefit. 

Conclusion

Being a contractor is very lucrative, but you have to understand that the negatives are you really don't get any holiday or sick pay, along with other employee benefits. That is the risk vs reward of being a contractor.

A great benefit for contractors is claiming allowable expenses. This is a great way to reduce your tax and cover your expenses.

I had the feeling that everyone should know these best practices. Because there are very few articles or blog posts available on the internet based on this topic.

Did you enjoy this piece of information? Was this valuable to you? Please let me know your opinions in the comment section below.

Do I Have Enough Experience to Contract?

When I first started contracting back in 2007 as a Test Analyst, I was battling with the thoughts, "Do I have enough experience to do this?". Then I met up with one of my ex colleages in a local chicken shop, we love these chicken shops in the UK, well at least we do.

He was explaining to me how he was planning to by a second hand Porsche in cash from the savings he made from IT contracting. I was gobsmacked! Here I was with just enough to pay for the chicken lunch and he was doing very well.

The thing that really got to me, I worked with him for years as a graduate tester on a permanent salary, and I knew I was just as good as him, if not better. It just made me feel, if he can do it, so can I.

How do I get Into IT Contracting?

The idea of becoming a contractor is appealing and enthusiastic especially for people who work as employees. However, it takes some steps before you become a professional IT contractor.

Ask yourself if it is the right thing for you. Before you resign from your current employment, research what other contractors in the industry feel about it. Find out if there is a possibility for regrets or there are chances of developing your revenue generation. It is apparent that contractors enjoy financial independence and freedom than what any form of employment can do. 

New ventures have their ups and down and you have to develop enough strength to help you overcome them. You’ll be venturing into the business alone, and you must have the capacity to negotiate your way in the competitive industry. To make an informed choice, it is wise if you read and understand the pros and cons of IT contracting. 

Get the right skills and materials before you start soliciting for contracts. IT involves technology and different companies and institutions that you will work for need professional data input and output experts. Acquire the best academic qualifications on Information Technology because potential companies hire contractors based on skills. 

Just remember, most contracts are charged according to the level of skills required and the demand for such skills, but you must learn the best way to charge as an IT contractor

What Types of Companies Recruit IT Contractors? 

IT is valuable in financial, human resource, logistics, business intelligence, and manufacturing industries, to be honest almost any industry these days. These companies need contractors that can help design different applications that will enhance efficiency in their businesses. As such, most of the organizations require IT contractors, to develop programs, install and maintain them.

IT recruiting companies are several, and they all look at the contractor's technical skills before hiring them. However, working closely with different recruitment agencies like oxford international can create greater chances of getting hired. Companies across all industries look for freelance IT contractors in agencies where if they are impressed by your skills they call you for an interview.

What is it like being a Contractor?

As a contractor, the company or people that have hired you look upon you to deliver their projects to their expectation. This gives you a sense of responsibility that drives you into giving your all in the contract.

In all honesty, being a contractor is really not much different to being a permanent worker, you do all the same tasks. The big difference is you don't have the security of long term work and typically get paid substantially more for that risk.  

Do I get Sick Pay if I am an IT Contractor?

If you are working as an independent contractor with no company you are self-employed. It is mandatory for all companies to offer their employees sick pay when they go on sick leave. However, such a scenario cannot apply to you because you are not their employee.

So, the short answer is no, you will not get sick pay, this is part of the risk of being a contractor, hence the reason you are rewarded for this risk you take by getting a larger rate of pay. 

Am I Eligible for Holiday Pay as an IT Contractor?

A contractor is independent and does not share his or her financial responsibilities with company that has employed him. Just like you submit your tax returns and plan your contract finances, you are the one who is responsible for your holiday pay. The employer does not care on how you spend your money as long as you deliver the project as per the agreement.

Contractors are not entitled to most of the benefits that other employees get from their employers. Therefore, if you want to go for a vacation, you must do your math right to ensure there is enough money to complete the project and pay for the holiday.

Conclusion

I have worked for many years as an employee and nothing is more enjoyable than job security. However, As an IT contractor, the pay rates are so much more, in my opinion it just makes sense to contract instaed of being permamnent, as long as you feel confident in what you do and feel you can deliver value to your client.

You meet new challenges every day which makes you strong and motivates you towards performing better. You too can become a professional IT contractor if you believe and push yourself.

If you find this article to be interesting and informative, please comment and share it with your friends and colleagues.

How to apply for the ISTQB Foundation Level Exam

So, you want to know all about the ISTQB Foundation level exam right? Luckily for you, you've come to just the right place. This article may be all you need on how to apply for the ISTQB Foundation level exam.

The procedure isn't too difficult. You first get on to the ISTQB website, click on the enrolment tab and you'll be directed to the Login Screen. For 'New Registrations' you'll need to key in your permanent address, personal information, postal address and then finally agree to the conditions and terms provided to you.

You will then be given information containing your User name, Registration number and password. Afterward, you will be required to make a few payments which you will have to do through demand drafts or DDs as they are commonly known. Visit the ISTQB contact link to know where to send the course cost payments.

WHAT IS THE ISTQB CERTIFICATION EXAM?

The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) is basically an internationally operated organisation that does software testing qualification certification.

It was established in 2002 in Edinburgh and is legally registered as a non profit organisation in Belgium. This standardized qualification is an ISTQB Certified Tester that software testers need to undergo in order to obtain certification by the ISTQB.

It is a syllabus based qualification which contains a hierarchy of guidelines and qualifications for the examination and accreditation.

This certification organisation for software testing qualification has managed to issue over five hundred thousand certifications. This Qualifications Board is made up of fifty seven member boards all across the globe and represents about eighty one countries to date.

The Foundation Level exam is designed on a theoretical nature basis and requires the exam taker, hopefully you, to have some knowledge on software development with a slight bias in the software testing field. The Advanced Level exams are much more practical and requires knowledge in specialized areas.

What is the CTFL Certification?

CTFL stands for Certified Tester Foundation Level and its certification training is essential for those of you with interests in the software testing and development industry. The ISTQB accredits this foundation level training which provides its trainees with software testing fundamentals that includes testing management, design techniques as well as testing principles and vocabulary.

This training is usually the first step for those of you that wish to pursue a career in software testing and is meant to measure your proficiency and understanding of software testing techniques, tools and vocabulary. This course is a globally accepted professional certification program that is largely examination based and not an easy one at that.

What is the Validity Period of the ISTQB Certification?

The foundation level certificate is valid for your whole life, so there is no worries about renewal, regardless of changes to the ISTQB foundation syllabus, once you have this certifcate.

Not to be confused with the partner program. The partner program of the ISTQB has a validity period of one year. People and organisations renewing their partnerships are awarded thirty percent Loyalty Discounts on their Partner fees. 

However, partnership levels can be upgraded by individuals or organisations upon request before their one year timeline expires. The only requirement being that you must ensure you're eligible for that upgraded level.

A partner can also terminate their partnership at any time during their validity period upon request. The procedure for this is to contact your Exam provider or Member Board where your program is managed and directly request for your partnership to be cancelled. Simple as that.

The Exam Provider or Member Board involved will then proceed to process your request, get the Partner Program Database and the ISTQB website updated and then finally they will advise the Partner Program Chair of the change and why it has happened. No fees are refunded as a result of the termination.

What Does A Software Tester Make Annually?

Software developers and testers basically work hand in hand and testers actually play a vital role.

They receive software builds at various levels of completion and then proceed to put these programs through numerous tests, clearly documenting software response along the way. Documenting is a key component of software testing because it helps software engineers and programmers discover any coding irregularities

Entry level testers with five years experience or less can expect to get paid about around fifty thousand dollars a year, which includes bonuses, overtime pay and tips. Software testers in the middle of their careers, meaning five to ten years experience, can expect an average pay of about sixty eight thousand dollars while those with ten to twenty years experience will be awarded an average salary of about seventy five thousand dollars

Conclusion

And there you have it. All you need to know about this internationally accredited training program and how to apply for the ISTQB Foundation level exam. You will find no better article than this on matters concerning this nature and we hope you thoroughly enjoyed that deep analysis on the topic given herein. We strive for excellence when it comes to information regarding such Certification Testing and the requirements that come along with it.

Not only does this certification provide you with a competitive advantage, it promises higher levels of reliability on the several applications being developed on a constant basis. Also, a consulting company that employs certified staff members can offer high levels of care to their customers which may in turn lead to increased revenue and will undoubtedly improve the organisations brand value. Please feel free to share with us any opinions, suggestions or comments you may have concerning this article. We are here for you.

How Many Years Experience Before Contracting?

The contracting sector is evolving at a tremendous rate as more people realize the benefits of versatile working. With the demand of a contingent workforce tremendously increasing, there has never been a better time to become a contractor. But the question on how much experience is needed to become a contractor is something that almost everyone has asked during their initial stages of contracting.

It is apparently considered that an experience of 3 years is suitable in order to become a contractor. Some people say any earlier is risky to become a contractor. But this much information is not enough. In this article, we will consider the most important questions related to contracting and will explain them in a detailed manner.

How to find contracts?

You must have a targeted approach in order to successfully get a contract. A killer’ contractor CV is probably the most integral step towards finding a good job. Make sure you CV has information relevant to the contract job being applied for. Make your CV short as well as focused and tailored. An estimated 80% contract jobs are given through agencies, so you must market yourself on the job board using specific agencies. Being noticed and standing out is very important if you want a good job.

Follow the contract job applications and chase clients. Experienced contractors believe that if you have landed an interview, you often end up getting the job. That is why during initial negotiations, you should focus on getting the interview and not bargain over rates. For clearing the interview, you should make sure you are prepared, proactive and understand the issue. Be confident, understand the job and try to close the deal. Having reassured the client at interview, follow up with the agency and there! You got a new contract!

Do I Require a limited company to contract?

Earlier, it used to take weeks to set up a payment mechanism but now it can be done in less than 24 hours by using company facilities and business accounts. The best payment structure depends on your IR35 status. A limited company might not be the best choice for you in case you are inside (caught) by IR35.

If you want to contract for a longer term, then a limiting company will provide you tax advantages and flexibility. On the other hand, you should use a PAYE umbrella company , if you plan to contract for a shorter time. A limited company provides maximum benefits if you have significant benefits that you need to claim. You should not be opting for these companies in case you do not incur and need to claim many contracting expenses.

Is it better to work as a permanent job first?

One among the main factors that makes permanent jobs better than contract jobs is the fact that they provide stability. It is apparently considered that an individual should have at least 3 years of experience before becoming a contractor.

But there is not hard and fast rule. I personally knew a guy who decided to become a contractor with just 4 months of experience. Permanent jobs come along with numerous benefits. Initially, gaining some experience in a permanent job can make you feel more confident and strengthen your move towards being a successful contractor.

Do I get paid with company dividends as a contractor?

If you are a limited company contractor, you are likely to decide how or when you pay yourself. If your contract work is not caught by the IR35, most of the limited company contractors obtain income in the form of dividends. Dividends are beneficial because they are not subject to National Insurance Contributions (NIC) which allows them to save money.

But there are certain things that you need to keep in mind. Dividends can only be paid from company benefits. Also, declaring dividends without sufficient profits is illegal. Corporation tax keeps more dividend information within each threshold. It is important to keep the S447 in mind. According to the tax law section 447, employment related securities tend to target employers using contrived schemes to avoid taxes by paying dividends, rather than paying salary.

Do I pay less tax while serving as a contractor?


There are numerous ways through which you can save money by having a  tax efficient setup. Unlike Umbrella Company, a limited company allows effective tax planning through a combination of salary and dividends. You can also claim your business-costs in terms of expenses in order to receive tax relief. In order to save tax, you need to understand IR35. If the contract is caught inside IR35, you can still effectively complete your contract. However, note that there will not be any entitlement as a contractors operating outside the IR35. Understanding how to structure your business is just as important as understanding how much to charge your clients.

It is advisable that you keep up with all government schemes as this might enable you to operate tax-efficiently. You might think that hiring an accountant is something that is not required and can be avoided. But an accountant actually helps in saving your money as well as time and stress. Furthermore, you should avoid any kind of penalties and you should take a share of the profit of your company and keep it as pension.

Pros and Cons of IT contracting

The upsides to being an IT contractor can be mesmerising, being your own boss is something most people sitting in a cubicle wish for everyday.

Being in charge of my own finances rather than remaining subject to a corporation’s view on their employees as production robots with fixed salaries gave me the independence and liberty to not be part of the never ending concrete jungle.

It can be frightening but moving away from the well known path into IT contracting once done, makes you question why you never did before.

IT contracting is not for everyone though and needs firm resolve and conviction to make it work. Like everything else, it comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are 5 pros and cons of IT contracting to help you make your decision.

The Pros Of IT Contracting

pros and cons of IT contracting
  • Financial Benefits: A very compelling factor in regard to contracting is more money. A lot of contractors are paid more than double the amount a full time employee is paid for the same project.

    Your skills and the industry you are in will play a role in how good a pay you can ask for. The main reason why your pay increases is because you offer your employer flexibility and are taking on short term contracts. Most contractors are paid by the day and can ask for additional pay for extra hours put in.

  • All rounded experience building: Working for a range of different companies and range of different bosses can give you the ability to learn a little something from each one.

    You can develop the skills you already have and obtain new ones by the minute. Each manager will want work done differently and have a different approach to the job. This teaches you how to cater to different types of people. It allows you to advance your career by exposing yourself to multiple different types of processes.

  • Build Your Network: One of the main benefits associated with contracting is you get to build multiple relationships across several companies at the same time. If you can give excellent work to an employer, even on a short term basis, they will keep you in mind and also be a great review to add to your shelf of achievements.

    This helps you uncover a range of opportunities with other companies and clients and also maybe discover permanent positions you could apply for to gain additional job security.

The cons of IT contracting

  • Job security: Job security can be hard when it comes to contracting because of the short-term factor of all your contracts. You need to have found a new contract before the one you are on has ended. This can prove disheartening if you have to deal with a time period where you have no work. During this time period, you start to consider the negatives of the job and have to focus on moving forward rather than getting disheartened.

  • Business Expenses: When you work for a corporation or for someone else, they are paying for the office, the electricity and everything else. When you are IT contracting these expenses become yours to bear and you have to start being your own stingy boss.

  • Benefit Plans: One reason why a lot of employees stay employees is for the package deal you get when signing a contract.

    You do not want to give up your healthcare that comes with your salary. You would have to pay an additional amount for health insurance if you work separately.

    A lot of people I have met along the way have health insurance added to their spouse’s through their position in a company.

  • Pension: Normally an employer would pay if you are ill or give you a pension by deducting a certain amount from your salary regularly. As a contractor you need to take control of all these aspects yourself and put aside enough money for the years that will follow. This needs to be done on a regular basis with no excuses.


Personally, looking back, contracting has been the best decision I made, giving me all the perks a job could never offer and that I was looking for.

The downsides take time to deal with and understand, but once you do it is smooth sailing. Understanding health insurance and putting your money aside are important steps to the learning process.

Negotiating with potential managers is also a learning curve that needs to be tackled with. After you get yourself sorted and settled, the perks out weight the tons by quite a bit. 

I personally feel that becoming a successful contractor requires a lot of patience and credibility. It is true that permanent jobs are more secure and stable, but the job of a contractor makes you feel free, wanting to explore. These are some of the key points that I felt like sharing with my voracious readers. As an author, it is a 'must’ for me to deliver the best of knowledge so that my readers can extract maximum information from my articles.

As a reader, how was your experience reading this article? Did you find out boring or was it a 10/10 article? Feel free to share, both your thoughts and the article. Give us your feedback as it helps us to provide specific information and key points that can be of more value to you in future. Comment below about your experience, sharing your impression of this article. You can also share this article with others, so that more people can obtain the benefits of this article.

How Risky are IT Contract jobs?

When it comes to choosing between a permanent IT job and an IT contract, you always prefer permanent because you have job security and you do not have to go for job hunting after the contract expires. 

Though people fear that contractual job has certain disadvantages, they miss seeing that it gives you an advantage to work at your own time, flexibility to earn at your own comfort and pays you more than your permanent job.

Risks are present in a permanent job as well, you may get fired if you do not abide by the rules and regulations of the company, do not maintain proper discipline, confidentiality and break the rules. It's just that we have built a perception to see both the jobs at different angles. In this article I will make you aware of “How Risky Are IT Contract Jobs?” and some amazing statistics on how the world is shifting from permanent job to contractual job.

Should you give up your full-time job for a contract?

If your thoughts are dwelling between a full-time job and contact job, I would suggest going with the contact job if it gives you a better career opportunity and at least 50% salary hike than your full-time job. According to the study conducted by QUARTZ, 40% of America’s work population will be freelancers by 2020. Contact jobs are preferred more by job seekers as they get to work in their area of interest, it gives them a learning opportunity and there's room for professional growth. Gone are the days when people were under the impression that contract jobs pay less, and are offered at entry-level positions. Though it’s a risk, it’s worth if you are getting a good opportunity to build a professional relationship with your industry. On a bright side, if you perform well when on a contact you might get a full-time employment within the company.

What is the difference between a fixed term contract and a normal contract role?

A fixed term contract is valid for a specific period. The start and the end date of the contract are clearly specified and extendable if required and mutually agreed upon by both the parties. It is also very close to a permanent working contract but has a defined end date.

It is a great way to test the skills of an employee before hiring him/her a permanent position in the company. It also benefits the IT company as they get to showcase their employee skills by completing a short-term project in a given time period.

Normal contact does still have an end date, but you will not receive any employee benefits like paid leave, sick pay etc.  This is what a traditional contractor is typically known as.

3. What are the disadvantages of contract employment?

  • The major disadvantage of a contract employment is job security. Since you are aware that it’s a contract job, a voice at the back of your head constantly pokes you that you will have to leave this job after a certain period. It may decrease your morale.
  • Every company has a different confidential policy and you really have to catch up fast to keep a track of all. A simple error may lead to termination of your contract.
  • Time management becomes a problem when you are handling different projects, you may lose track and suddenly feel whatever you are doing is a waste of your time and energy.
  • The hourly payment option gets compromised as you get paid only for the number of hours you have worked. If you are idle for few hours, you do not get paid and your valuable time is wasted.
  • You have a lot of pressure to prove yourself to the company by constantly producing good results, with a fear that any wrong move and you are out of the company for good.

Do contract jobs offer benefits?

The permanent employee benefits include fixed salary, health insurance, disability insurance and life insurance, retirement plan, vacation and sick day leave policy. You will not be able to enjoy these benefits if you are on a contract. You will have to purchase your own policy (which can be costly) and you will not get paid if you go on a leave. You will not get worker’s compensation benefits if you need one. Though some of the companies have changed their policy and they give insurance benefits to the contractual employees as well. It’s better to clear everything with your employer before you sign the contract.

Can you quit a contract job?

A contract is bound by legal terms and conditions and if you quit in the middle before the contract expires there can be certain consequences. If the contract clearly states that you will be charged a certain amount if you terminate the contract, you will have to pay the amount to the employer. Some employers have conditions that they have every right to blacklist you from the field you are working in if you leave early. Others will not give you the bonus which you were supposed to get at the end of the contract. In another case, the employer simply has a condition that you will have to serve a one month notice before you leave the company. The terms and conditions vary from company to company, so it is advised that you thoroughly read your contract before opting to quit.

Conclusion

There has always been a confusion in the mind of an employee whether to go for a permanent job or a contractual job. There is no correct answer as it all depends on what kind of package and job you are being offered and whether it is something you are interested to build your career in.

If you are happy with your permanent job, stick to it, but if you are not, contractual jobs have a lot of opportunities for you, learn how to master face to face and telephone interviews for software contract testers and take the plunge. Always remember risk is in both the jobs. It depends how much you are willing to take. It was my responsibility to make you aware of what you can expect from an IT contract job and the risks it has. Now it’s up to you, what you decide. I am sure the cloud of confusion is now cleared.

I would really love to know your thoughts, life experiences or any question you have about the contract job in the comment below.

Do your bit. Share the article and help your friends who might have the same confusion as you.

Happy Job Hunting!

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