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Finding Contracts

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As a freelancer, you will spend more time than most looking for work. There are several avenues to take to finding your next contract, so we’ve summarised them below.

Through a recruitment agency

A recruitment agency is how most contractors find work on an ongoing basis. A good relationship with a good consultant at a good agency is like gold dust.  The right consultant will find you the right job just as you come to the end of your current contract, making your transition to your next assignment as smooth as possible.

Unfortunately, not all contractors have positive experiences with their consultant and we examine some of the pitfalls here.

In a nutshell, a recruitment agency does a lot of the work for you. They should have plenty of positions on offer, and some have the added advantage of specialising in one type of industry or discipline or, they may work closely with a particular large employer within the area. This will greatly increase the chance of finding the right job for you.  Many major blue chip organisations only recruit through agencies, so it might be the only way to get a role at a large organisation.

A good consultant should interview you in person so that they can get a good idea of who you are, what experience you have, what your ambitions are and, what sort of role you will be suited to. They should look at your CV and highlight weak areas and parts that can be improved upon, making you a stronger candidate when you submit your CV to an employer.

You can register with more than one recruitment agency, but as we've highlighted here, it's quality of consultant as opposed to quantity that will help you find the right contracts.

Finally, if you're looking for work overseas you may find it best to go through an agency.

Unfortunately, not everyone will have a good experience with agencies. Firstly, you should always read the contracts you sign so that you don't get any nasty surprises. All agencies have different terms and conditions, including there payment terms. the amount of time it will take them to pay you or pay an invoice sent from your umbrella company/PSC can very from a week to a month, so you could potentially end up working a month in arrears, so ensure you find out before you sign a contract with them.

You should be wary of a recruitment agency that does not want to meet you in advance of putting you forward for roles - how will they know that you will be a good fit? You may find it in your interests to get it in writing that the recruiter will not put forward your CV for a role without your permission. There should be no charges when they find you a job role the recruitment process is paid for by the client (although some agencies may run chargeable courses for you, to aid in improving your job skills).

Most importantly ensure that your consultant is looking beyond their commission, and that any roles they suggest really are right for you. Unfortunately, there are a couple of unscrupulous consultants that will push you to accept a role that's not right for you, so be strong enough to say 'no' and if necessary find a better consultant.

Using job sites

The internet has revolutionised the way we all live and work, and this effect has also been felt in the way the employment market works. Gone are the days where you would have to wait for the next relevant job section of a newspaper or magazine to be published, you can find new vacancies published every hour on the internet.

There are very well known recruitment sites out there, but don't forget that some roles particular to your industry may only be on specialist websites, and some may not cater very well for the contract market (of course, the job boards on freelancesupermarket.com cater solely for people like you!).


Quite simply, the reach of the internet. You can view far more vacancies online than you ever could by browsing newspaper adverts. Jobs are also updated daily and even hourly, so you can potentially be the first to apply for the role.

On some sites you can upload your CV and store it on the recruitment database. This has the advantage of allowing recruiters to search the database and find candidates that match their criteria and contact them. You may find that your next contract comes to you!

Applying via the internet is often easy - you just attach your CV and press send. Others will allow you to go straight to the application form, saving time printing off your CV and posting it.

With a greater audience comes a greater potential response - the employer may find they receive a lot more applications than they used to, reducing the time they have to 'sift' through all of the applications.

You are likely to find that most of the adverts advertised on the internet are actually via recruitment agencies anyway, so you will have to register with them, and if they don't feel that you are suitable for the role may not put you forward. In some cases the role might not even exist and the agencies are just using the advert to encourage people to register with them!

Whilst the internet has made a lot of the things we do speed up and more accessible, you might find that applying for contracts on the internet is just as time consuming as it used to be, especially if each end client has their own application form for you to fill out. You can of course use a certain amount of copy and pasting from previous applications and from your CV, but you still need to ensure that you answer the questions and don't just provide a general answer that doesn't show you off.

Company websites

Maybe it's pretty obvious that if you want to find vacancies you should browse company websites and find their job vacancy section, however in the days of mass marketed job sites you may have forgotten this simple trick.

Of course there are disadvantages to this. This is a time consuming process, and you may find that many large companies don't actually advertise on their corporate site anymore - they do it all through jobsites and recruitment agencies. Most job sites now have a facility where you can sign up for job alerts.  this will notify you of new vacancies that match a search criteria, and if you're lucky this might be just as your current contract is coming to an end.


There is absolutely nothing to stop you putting in speculative applications to companies where you believe you could find work, simply follow our advice for making speculative applications in the job resources section. It will cost very little to ask, and the rewards can be very high!

Further reading

10 mistakes to avoid when searching for a new contract
How to compare recrutiment agencies
What makes a good recruitment consultant?
What's the difference between temping and contracting?
On the bench, miserable and bored?
Little known ways to find freelance work

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