Finding IT contracts in London

Over the last couple of years, I developed quite a strong professional network in Dublin, which was working quite well in getting contract IT work. With the recent move to London, I have found that I may now have to fall back onto more traditional forms of hunting for contracts, i.e. through agents and job boards, even though I intend to keep pushing on other fronts.

It has quickly become apparent that the City is quite a different environment due to its scale, and that the traditional job board search methods are simply not up to the task. Consider the following job stats:

  • London has a population of 18 million, Dublin just over 1
  • Contract stats from listings on CWJobs/Jobserve in the last 2 days using the following search terms:
    • Java 44/110
    • .Net 57/120
    • Spring 30/27
    • Agile 24/33

Lots of contracts, contractors, agents and potential clients. Work out what you will about the environment from the numbers. Separating the wheat from the chaff takes time, and anything that makes the process too difficult for any of the parties involved is going to get skipped over.

First thing job boards.

With such a huge turnover of work, you need to keep track of stuff that you have seen before as roles get listed on an ongoing basis. You also need to make sure that any search automatically drops out stuff that’s not relevant. You probably don’t care about release management jobs or C++ if you are looking for Java work, and a lot of emphasis is placed here on industry experience within a particular niche (a simple filtering mechanism for clients).

RSS feeds are the way of the future here. I set up a couple of complex boolean searches on Jobserve and set up feeds to fire off to my Google Reader. This way I don’t have to keep a big spreadsheet of stuff that I have applied for, and don’t have to sift through things that I have already seen in search results. Hours of dead time freed up for more productive activities. Before I set these up, it was a battle just finding relevant work to apply for.

I don’t really like this form of contract hunting as it is inefficient at this scale, and certainly prefer the networking model, but any strategies that make this easier are worth working out.

Adage have a great article that I found my way onto from the LinkedIn blog, about how you can use social networking sites to supercharge the process. I think it’s probably a much better way to operate. Updates coming soon.

If you are in London and looking for someone smart who gets things done, knows how to communicate, has the ability to get people exited about stuff, with a Java background to technical architect level, feel free to contact me through LinkedIn.

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