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I am trying to understand a few aspects of applying for jobs such as the following: Android Developer - Front-end Experience Required - 3 month contract - London - £300 per day - Immediate start

I have several questions and am particularly interested in the UK.

  1. What is the reason for the high daily rate? Is this because it's short term and thus is less attractive to many people, or because it requires a higher level of skill/higher workload than the average permanent job?

  2. How often to these contracts usually pay? Someone told me that they will pay every two weeks.

  3. Just how essential are the skills listed in the job listing? For example, I have experience with Android and Java SE, but no experience with Java EE - would this put me out of the running for a Java EE contract?

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I don't actually think the rate is that high. But the reason for the rate is supply and demand. At that rate they would expect someone with a proven track record of delivering quality work who can hit the ground running. Not necessarily that easy to find. –  Antonio2011a Nov 9 '11 at 8:45

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. This is bellow average to well below average for a UK. Contract rate. Out of this you need to pay taxes, national insurance, V.A.T an accountant, your vacation, sick days. You also need to eat between contracts. You should budget for working about 180 days a year, roughly equivalent to a salary of 50,000 a year. Which is good but not great, and, about the same cost to the client as a permanent employee when other benefits and costs are taken into consideration.

  2. Depends. Usually you go through an agent who will be taking 10 to per cent of what the customer pays. But -- and this is a big but -- will pay you promptly at the end of the month. If you go direct through your own company you can wait up to three months before an invoice is paid.

  3. Its absolutely essential that you have the headline skills. That is the the first two or three mentioned in the advert. The client expects a contractor to be productive from day 1. If the skill set in your CV does not match the skill set required you will not be considered, no matter how talented you are or however good you are at one of the minor requirements. This is very different from the "permie" selection process where general ability and soft skills like communications and presentation will be taken into consideration.

Good resources for U.K. contractors are:-

jobserve -- no. 1 online job adds

contracotr uk -- information on business and legal aspects of contracting

[itjobswatch -- statistics on salaries and daily rates, by skill and location ]

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You're right about most of these costs but the VAT comes on top of your rate and you get to keep 2.5% if you are small business. –  Robert Redmond Nov 9 '11 at 8:43
    
@Robert, true. But you still need to fill in that d**m form every month, and, write the check so it feels like your money. –  James Anderson Nov 9 '11 at 8:55

1.To follow up on what Antonio2011a said above, the salary isn't that high. The general rule is to divide your yearly goal by 1000, and let that be your hourly rate. If we reverse that, we get ( £300/day / 8 hours ) * 1000, or a £37,500 salary, which isn't that much for an Android dev.

According to this Cogs salary survey, £300 is the low end and £450 is the high end. If you can find work in the US, you can make more. For a comparison, look at this Creative Group survey which shows that the mobile developer salary range is ~£15k higher in the US.

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  1. High salary rate is explained by the fact there are more demand than offer. A lot of developers are reluctant to become freelance because of fear of being unemployed. The fact is they are rarely without a mission. I've met dozens of freelance developers and no one encountered difficulties to find a mission. Job insecurity for freelance is an illusion, just like the job security of employed developers.

  2. It depends on the contract. Typical payment terms are NET 30.

  3. You are expected to know very well the technologies listed. You can determine the level of skills thanks to an information published in the job post. 300 GBP is the very lowest daily rate you can get in such mission, so I guess they are more looking for a junior or newly medior developer. Senior developers are usually paid at least 500 GBP in your market.

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  1. No job security and people expect you to be an expert and able to do useful work from day one. Normally you can be got rid of within a day or a week if you are not good enough.
  2. Could be weekly/two weekly/monthly depending on agency or client.
  3. Depends how picky the client is or whether there are loads of people with the exact skill set. But good android devs are in short supply so I doubt that it would be a problem.
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  1. Yeah, pretty much what you said. Short jobs pay more per day, and hiring God doesn't come cheap. Could be either one or a mix of both.

  2. Depends on the client. Some pay weekly, some every other week, some monthly, some expect you to bill on a net-thirty basis. Ask.

  3. "Some." I can't imagine anyone with a clue worrying about the distinction between Java SE and Java EE, but your resume is probably going through a layer of human resources before it hits the technical people, and they don't have that clue.

I know, none of this is all that helpful; it's just that all of these things really do change from job to job. You never know until you get a little further in and talk to somebody.

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1  
Someone with a clue would really worry about the distinction between Java SE and JavaEE. One is a nice consistent development environment, and the other is a disorganized collection of inconsistent bloatware. –  James Anderson Nov 9 '11 at 6:49
    
Yeah, but that's a worry for the coder, not for whoever's hiring :) –  mjfgates Nov 10 '11 at 12:53
    
unlike hiring permanent staff where most of the selection process is done by HR, in most shops the contractor selection process usually involves the immediate project manager and often team members. So yes it would worry a potential hirer that a candidate has not Websphere/Weblogic or whatever experience. –  James Anderson Nov 11 '11 at 1:32

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