The number of self-employed workers in the UK currently stands at a record high of 4.8 million, with 1.77 million members of this group being full-time contractors. Clearly, this is a popular route for many who wish to gain more control and freedom over their professional careers.

Not only is this a beneficial option for many individuals, these freelance professionals contribute a significant £119 billion to the UK economy.

With 97% of contractors claiming to be happier than employees, contracting is clearly an attractive option for thousands of workers. Contracting isn’t a short-term fad, it’s a booming industry that’s thriving.

However, during the current uncertain climate surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, many contractors will be wondering how they can gear up and continue winning work.

Although the future looks unclear, many companies are continuing to fill roles and hire new talent. With that in mind, it’s important for contractors to prepare themselves to contract well. To help, Umbrella Broker have put together this handy guide on everything you need to know about contractor jobs in 2020.

What industries are most in demand for contractors?

Naturally, some industries have more contracting opportunities than others. This is especially important to consider during the COVID-19 in order to identify companies that will continue to hire.

So, which industries have the most contracting opportunities in the UK?


From cyber security to software installation, as technology continues to develop rapidly, the demand for IT contractors merely continues to grow. In fact, this is an industry that has seen a 71% increase in contractor candidate availability since 2008.

Within the IT industry, the most demand skills last year were:

  • Cyber security
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Big Data
  • Business Analysts


Over the past 5 years, the number of engineering contractors has increased by 68%. As more money is invested in building infrastructure across the UK, engineering is an attractive option for contractors.

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According to research, 20% of small businesses in this sector had around 800,000 contract workers, showing there are plenty of opportunities for independent contractors in this sector.

Other industries with fruitful opportunities for contractors according to research by FlexJobs include:

  • Administration
  • Accounting and finance
  • Medical
  • Research
  • Education
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Writing

How to find contract work?

So, how do you source contract work? The great news is that it’s never been easier to source and apply for contracts online making winning work easy, even during a UK-wide lockdown.

There are several ways contractors can do this, including:

Contractor Job Boards

There are several contractor job boards out there where contractors can seek out and put themselves forward for new contract work. Some of our favourite contractor specific job boards include:

  • Monster – contracts
  • Contractor UK (for IT contracts)
  • CW Jobs
  • Only Contract Jobs

Online Marketplace

As well as online contractor job boards, there are also plenty of online marketplaces where contractors can view and bid on a vast range of projects which typically tend to be online work, perfect while the UK remains on lockdown:

  • Upwork – contractors can bid on a wide range of different projects
  • People Per Hour – much like Upwork, here contractors can view and bid on a vast range of projects
  • Rent A Code – as the name suggests, this is great tool for IT contractors to seek out contract work
  • We Work Remotely – another great hangout for IT contractors, this is a great source for remote contractual work in this industry

LinkedIn for contractors

The world’s largest professional network is an invaluable source for contractors to discover and be discovered for new opportunities. After all, 70% of recruiters use the platform to find candidates for contracts.

Here are a few of our top tips to ensure success for finding contracts on LinkedIn:

  • Have a detailed, optimised profile, outlining your current position and availability, listing your previous work experience, delivering a killer summary of your skills and how you’ve achieved results in the past.
  • Be active in reaching out and forging new connections.
  • Be an active member, sharing relevant industry news and articles. This improves your searchability and ensures you regularly appear in other users’ feeds.
  • Utilise LinkedIn’s contractor targeting tool. This allows you to notify recruiters when you are open to new opportunities making it easier for recruiters and clients to seek out contractors.

How can you improve your chances of winning contractor jobs?

If you are looking for a contractor job during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be anxious about the path ahead. Although many companies are adjusting to remote working, businesses must still go on and fill new roles.

So, what can you do to make yourself the best candidate possible?

Get your CV up to date

Is your CV up to date and relevant? Is it the best it can be? As recruiters spend an average of just 7 seconds scanning a CV, it needs to be the best reflection of the contractor, their skills and experience possible. A few tips to creating a killer contracting CV include:

  • Have the perfect profile: tailor your profile to show how you are well suited to the position and would make a great fit for the company. Use your profile to highlight what value you can bring and what your unique selling point is.
  • Show off your skill set: clients increasingly hire contractors to fill a temporary skills gap, meaning it’s important to use your CV to show you have the best skill set for the role.
  • List your experience: show who you have worked for before, in what role and how you benefited the client.
  • Use facts to back it up: using specific facts to back up your statements is a great way to provide tangible evidence of how you have achieved results for clients in the past.

Upskill through online courses

As the majority of the nation remains in doors, what better opportunity to sharpen your skill set and build on your expertise? Researching the most in-demand areas within your industry will help contractors identify top skills they can attain in order to gain a competitive edge over other contractors.

There are tons of resources online to help contractors upskill in their niche, including:

  • Skillshare: this platform is perfect for contractors in creative industries to take online classes and improve their skill set in their chosen area.
  • The Open University: offering flexible, distance learning, this is the perfect way to gain an accredited degree in your specialist area whilst working around your own schedule.
  • Udemy: offering over 100,000 online learning courses in a range of areas and industries, this is a great way of upskilling without investing in an accredited degree.

Ready to get that contractor job in the bag?

Contracting is an increasingly popular route for thousands of UK workers and shows no signs of slowing down. Once you’ve found and won the perfect contracting job for you, the next step is to decide how you wish to contract, whether that’s through a limited company, umbrella or PAYE. For those looking for the flexibility of self-employment with the security of employment, an umbrella company is the best match.

But, there are tons of umbrella companies out there, and not all umbrella companies are created equal. That’s where Umbrella Broker’s comparison tool comes in handy. Compare umbrella companies based on your specific requirements in a matter of minutes – no call backs, no hassle.

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