There are many benefits of making the switch from a life in a permanent role, surrounded by the same people and business day in day out, to a life of ever changing landscape, from technologies, to people, to businesses.
Although, potentially, quite daunting at first, the benefits of contracting will be highly beneficial for IT contractors , especially for those with niche, high demand skill sets such as Open Source Developers and certain areas of machine learning / AI.
There are 2 things that I believe are important when making the switch:
1) Choose recruitment agencies wisely. Work with agencies that will really understand your skill set and work hard to open up opportunities for you and guide you through the process
2) Be available at short notice. If you have a strong skill set, are working with a good recruiter and have made the decision to move to a life of contracting, take a leap of faith and resign from your permanent role; being readily available will throw up far more opportunity for you.
In some ways, contracting agencies are more like theatrical than recruitment agents. If all goes well, you will over time develop a mutually beneficial relationship. As they get to know you, the quality and fit of the contracts that they put you forward for will improve. Unlike theatrical agents, however, there’s no penalty for infidelity – you can and should develop a shortlist of agencies that you regularly use, and keep the list under regular review, to ensure that you have the best possible access to the available opportunities.