Points to be considered by aspiring contractors (ZZP-er)

Every month I meet a few: people who are considering becoming freelance contractors. During the crisis there were many who were between jobs, and now there are those who are done in their current position. As we recruit for permanent as well as for interim positions we are often involved in brainstorming. The following aspects are almost always mentioned in our brainstorming:

  • Salary is not the same as revenue: the bottom line is calculated differently and the contractor has to take many new things into consideration: taxes, expenses, insurance, vacation, education, not having an assignment, etc. For the contractors in our market who are always in an assignment, the bottom line is better than when they would be employed;
  • Unemployed have to talk to the body that pays their benefits (in The Netherlands UWV). Long term rights might be harmed by accepting a short term assignment;
  • The paperwork is not as elaborate as one might expect. The Chambers of Commerce are quite cooperative;
  • The contractor is never part of the team, always a bystander;
  • The client will not invest in the development of a contractor, that is his/her own responsibility. Most likely the hired contractor will be overqualified, being able to hit the ground running;
  • A special and recognizable skill, like knowing a certain software or funding type, is an asset that might land the assignment but can also lead to the contractor being a “one trick pony”;
  • The contractor has the chance to work in various environments, and will almost always be in a position where one can impact: transitions and crisis management;
  • Recruiters for interim managers and other intermediaries deserve their fee and are a good channel to land an assignment. Be aware that the actual client will judge the performance upon the client fee, not the fee paid to the contractor. Asking about the fee level makes sense;

Finally the most important aspect in becoming a contractor or not: being able to handle the stress that comes with not having an assignment. Is there a savings account one can rely on or an alternative source of funding?
The list is not comprehensive. What do you think should be added and what are your experiences with the above?

Pieter de Kiewit

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