Perfect STORM or Perfect TIME - To Take Control of Your Own Future

A picture of Doug, the COO of Nudge Exchange
Doug Robertson
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It’s been widely reported that 2020 represents a ‘Perfect Storm’ for those of us who rely on the UK Energy industry for a living. The combined effects of Covid-19, Oil Price Crash, Environmental Pressures and our ageing industry infrastructure have caused many to question the very future of our domestic Oil & Gas industry. Having only begun to recover from the previous crash the government’s furlough scheme and other industry support measures have largely only delayed the mass redundancies we all feared.

What has never been in doubt is the range and volume of exceptional talent that exists in our industry. While permanent staff jobs may be in short supply for some considerable time, the industry will still require skills and experience as we emerge from the storm and will turn initially to the contractor market to fill the immediate need.

We have already seen a significant move towards the ‘gig economy’ in recent years, more than doubling in size between 2016 and 2019, and this growth was widely predicted to continue. The anticipated move toward increased utilisation of a professional freelancer model within the Energy industry will only, in my view, be accelerated by the effects of the current pandemic.

As such, if you haven’t already, isn’t it time to take control of your own destiny?

Even for those who value the perceived “security” of a permanent staff job I would still recommend that you take the steps to set yourself up as a freelancer. It may provide the step into the permanent job you are looking for or you might find that the flexibility and variety offered is actually an attractive, long term, option for you after all.

Having taken the jump into the unknown myself 12 months ago, and never looked back, I would recommend the following simple steps:

  • Think and Behave like a company – have a clear idea of where your knowledge and experience can add value, identify your target market, your true value to these clients, believe in the benefits that you can bring and go out there and sell yourself!

  • Set Up Your Own Limited Company – simply follow the step by step guide available literally takes minutes to do and for most the longest part of the process is thinking of a suitable company name!

  • Bank Account – the modern app based banks, such as Tide and Starling, allow you to set up a corporate account instantly, and free of charge, as soon as your company is established. Also giving you access to Invoicing and some basic accountancy functionality to get you started.

  • Insurance – prices for business insurance vary greatly depending upon the nature of work you will be performing and the liability requirements your clients place on you, so worth shopping around to get the most appropriate cover and deal for your business.

  • Domain Name – there are a number of online companies who will give you a business website and email address for a minimal cost. While the website can wait ’til you’re more established, I’d say using a business email is definitely worth doing and gives an important professional first impression.

  • LinkedIn Profile – let the world know that you are now able to offer your services as a Consultant so change your headline to reflect this. For example rather than simply saying ‘Available’ or ‘Looking for Next Challenge’ say something like ‘Process Engineering Specialist – Available to support your business on either short term or permanent basis’ then in ‘About’ you can give a detailed overview of the services you can offer and your relevant experience.

  • Online Activity – Be visible on LinkedIn, join relevant contractor and industry groups and be active liking and responding to relevant industry posts and posting content yourself which will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable in your field. Make sure all your existing contacts know that you’re available and looking for freelance work.

Worth being aware that, with the proposed changes to IR35 legislation still hanging over us, some clients may only offer contract positions on a PAYE, rather than Limited Company basis.

We at Nudge are in the process of building a revolutionary platform, with the support of The OGTC TechX Programme, to seamlessly manage the entire contracting process from sourcing assignments through to getting paid. In the mean time we have created the ‘Nudge Community’ LinkedIn Group to share contracting opportunities and industry insights. If you’re already an established freelancer or simply considering taking the step please join the community and , due for launch later this year, at www.nudgeexchange.com.

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