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Category: Useful Info

Training whilst self-employed

Being self-employed can be difficult to find the time to focus on training and continuing professional development. Whilst you may think your time is better spent doing other things, it is important you keep developing your skills and expertise to stay relevant in what is a competitive market.

We have put together a few ideas you may want to use to make sure you are getting the most out of your training and development opportunities.

  1. Take time out to consider in which areas you think training would be valuable to yourself and your business. If there are a few courses you think are important, list them and then prioritise them to make it easier to see where to start.
  2. Training can be expensive, however can add a lot of value to your business. Not only are you able to offer more services or keep your existing services relevant but the more qualified you are, the more justifiable an increase in rates is to your customers. Therefore, when taking into account the cost of a course, you should factor in not only the time you would lose whilst carrying out the training but also the potential extra income you could receive as a result.
  3. If funding is an issue for your continuing professional development, look around at the funding options available. Lots of training bodies have funding loans or grants available for people looking to study with them, some of which you may be eligible for. You may also be able to deduct the costs of your training from your income tax, if you suit the criteria, meaning you pay less income tax and come out with training.
  4. Making time for training can be difficult, especially when you are also working full time. There are now a variety of training options available for you to choose from, from online learning to night classes and college courses. Do your research before signing up to any training schemes and make sure they suit you. You want to aim to finish the training and be able to come out of it with a new skill, so you must be able to put the time in that it requires. It will be hard work, but you have to remember that it will be worth it when you’ve finished.
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Things to think about before going self-employed

The opportunity to work for yourself is exciting but can also be daunting. Whilst being your own boss might sound like a great idea, you need to remember the responsibility that comes with it. We have gathered a few points that you may want to consider before taking the leap to becoming self-employed.


Have you got savings to help you get by for the first few months? Often, starting a business is a slow and difficult feat so having some financial support to pay for basics such as rent is handy. There is also going to be times when you come across extra expenses that you haven’t budgeted for, so having money behind you is essential.

Managing your finances

You want to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

You may want to put away a percentage of every invoice into a separate account and use this for tax, so it does not creep up and surprise you at the end of the year. Another tip is to do your accounts monthly, rather than leaving them until the end of the year. This way the workload is much more manageable.

The other option is to hire an accountant. Not everyone who is self-employed needs one, and it is an extra cost that needs to be factored in, however in the long run, hiring an accountant can save you time and stress.


Going self-employed means you need to sort your own insurance cover. Some policies you need to have as a legal requirement, whilst others are worth having to reduce the risk you face.

Employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement if your business employs one or more other people. This provides cover to pay compensation and legal fees if an employee sues you for illness or injury caused at work. If you do not have this insurance, you can face fines of up to £2,500 a day.

Other insurances worth looking into to include public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. Whilst these may not be a legal requirement, an increasing number of businesses refuse to work with those who do not hold certain insurances.

Registering as self employed

Once you have decided self-employment is for you, you need to register with HMRC. You can do this online as soon as you have started your business. Remember, you need to be registered with HMRC before the 5th October in your business’ second tax year, or you could be facing a hefty fine.

Here, you can also apply for the CIS (Construction Industry Scheme). All contractors who work in the construction industry need to register with this scheme. Upon registration, you will receive a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number which you can give to your pay provider and it will allow them to verify your details with HMRC.

Getting a mortgage

Another factor you need to keep in mind is that getting loans, including a mortgage, can become more difficult when you become self-employed. You no longer have a guaranteed income which can put some lenders off as the chances of them getting their money back is decreased. This is something you need to consider if you are looking at buying a home in the near future.

A solution you may consider is working through an umbrella company. Apex provide a CIS pay model that is flexible enough for you to work for yourself whilst providing some support, such as sorting your pay out. For more information, visit the CIS section of our website to see how we can help you.

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Looking for work during COVID-19

Both employees and employers are facing unprecedented times during the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have closed or are getting used to working remotely. This has resulted in changes occurring in the job searching and hiring process, which has an impact on people looking for work.

Here are a few tips on what to expect when looking for a new job during the pandemic:

Go virtual

It is become impossible to attend interviews or career events in person due to social distancing rules being present. However, things are still going on, just online instead! Career fairs have been moved online to providing a virtual experience for people searching for jobs.

Many employers are still recruiting and have found ways around face to face interviews. Telephone and video calls are a good alternative to meet and chat with potential employers without putting anyone at risk.

It is also useful to have a virtual presence on the likes of social media and job sites. Sharing or commenting on articles or discussion groups makes sure that you know what is going on and shows you have an interest in the subject.

Consider a change in industry

Your job sector may be struggling at the minute due to new rules and guidelines meaning there are less jobs around. This is where you may want to consider moving to a different area of work. Whilst some industries are suffering, others are seeing an increase in job creation and are looking to employ people as soon as possible.

Supermarkets, warehouses, and care homes are all sectors that are currently in need of workers.

Remember, this does not have to be a permanent career change but just a temporary solution to keep you earning money and develop a new skill set during the pandemic.

Work on your CV

Use the time you have to update your CV. Make sure all your latest qualifications and experience is included. You may also want to take an online course, volunteer, or learn a new skill whilst you have more time than usual to spare. Not only will this keep you busy but may introduce you to a new interest that could lead to a different career path.

Do not give up!

Whilst it might be frustrating applying to jobs to never hear back from them, you need to carry on. There are less jobs available and more people applying, meaning the application process may take longer than usual, so be patient. Even if you do not hear back, your information will be on the employer’s system should another job turn up that would suit you.

Remember, the more jobs you apply for, the greater your chances of landing one.

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CIS – the basics

Are you currently working in the construction industry? If so, it may be worth looking into the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

CIS is a government run scheme where contractors deduct money from a subcontractor’s pay and pass it to HMRC as an advance payment towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance Contributions.

Depending on certain criteria, you’ll pay either 20% or 30% tax. So, what do you need to do to register for the Construction Industry Scheme?

  • CIS applies only to work carried out in the UK. If you work outside of the UK, you cannot register for the scheme.
  • You will need to check the services you provide fall under CIS. The Government website has a list of jobs covered by CIS and those that are exempt. To find out more, visit
  • To register for CIS, you will need a Unique Tax Reference number (UTR). A UTR number is 10 digits long as is unique to you. It is used by your payment provider to check your details with HMRC and determine your tax treatment. You can apply for a UTR number if you do not already have one by registering for self-assessment on the government website.
  • You will be asked if you are subject to SDC – supervision, direction, or control. This helps determine whether you are classed as self-employed. You must be self employed to be eligible for CIS. If you are subject to SDC, you are told what to do by someone else, how to do your work, where to do it or when and can’t be classed as self-employed.

A CIS payroll specialists, Apex can help you to become a CIS registered worker.

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Career development tips for the self-employed

So, you’ve taken the initiative to become self-employed and, in some ways, taken your future into your own hands. You’re in control of your work. So how do you ensure that you’re still developing your career and keeping work flowing in? Here’s a few useful hints and tips…

Try something new

Once you have perfected your current trade, why not think about learning a new skill? This will not only develop your business as you have a bigger skill pool available, but it shows that you’re motivated and eager to progress and learn more.

You may want to consider signing up for a course or a local group in something you’re interested in. Even if you choose a new skill that becomes a hobby rather than work related, you’re meeting new people and widening your social circle. You never know who may need your services.

Read up on the industry

Set some time aside to read up on your industry. It is important you stay up to date with what’s going on and the latest trends so you can provide the best service to your clients.

Browse the latest news article, blog posts and websites relating to your job area and see if there is anything interesting or relevant to you. Putting the extra time in shows you’re committed, and you never know what you might learn in the process.


Developing your communication skills is key to developing your business. Many businesses rely on word of mouth, however there are other options you can explore as well. Create an online presence for your business, whether that be on social media or via a website. Have clear links to how people can contact you such as an email address or telephone number.

Make it clear what you can offer your customers. The more open and transparent you are, the more people will trust and want to use you.

Build a strong network of contacts

Having a strong network of contacts is a highly valuable tool for building and maintaining work offers. Networking is a great way of doing this, however it can be off putting for some people. Focus on being friendly and approachable and less on trying to impress others.

Use social media to widen your contacts. People leaving reviews or talking about your service encourages other people to look into you and what you’re about. A like, comment or share can go a long way these days.

It is also worth putting the work into maintaining relationships with clients who you have worked with previously. You never know when the opportunity may occur where they want to work with you again, or the opportunities this may lead to.

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How to write the perfect CV

Your CV is your initial introduction to a potential employer so it’s pretty important that you get it right! You need to draw their attention from all the other applications and highlight why you’re best suited for the job.

We’ll walk you through what you need to include in your CV and how to make it stand out from the rest.

  1. Your name, title and contact details
    1. This is usually found at the top of your CV and should include your full name, a professional title (if applicable), your email address and contact number. You may also want to put your location here as well, such as the town you live in.
  2. Personal profile
    1. This is a short statement from yourself explaining who you are, what you can offer the employer and your prospects. You can tailor this to fit each job you apply for, highlighting what makes you suitable for the position.
  3. Education and qualifications
    1. This section should be listed in reverse chronological order, with your most recent qualification coming first in the list.
    2. You should include the name of the institution, the dates you studied there followed by the grades/qualifications you achieved.
  4. Experience/employment history
    1. Here you should give a brief overview of your previous jobs or work experience. Your most recent role should be listed first.
    2. For each position, you should state your job title, the employer, the dates you worked there and a line that summarises your role.
    3. This should be followed by bullet points of your key responsibilities.

Top Tips

  1. Don’t feel the need to fill the whole of the page. You want to make your CV short, succinct and easy to read – most jobs will have lots of other candidates and pages and pages of writing can put the reader off.
  2. Present your CV clearly – use black and white with minimal colour to keep the document looking professional and clean. Avoid ‘fun’ fonts that can be distracting and make your CV look childish.
  3. Be honest – focus on the skills you have and the experience you’ve obtained. Sell yourself on what you do have, rather than making things up that you think the employer would like.
  4. Up to date – make sure your CV is completely up to date before you send it out. You may have missed vital skills you have developed that could be key to you getting the position.
  5. Spell check your work – go through your CV and check for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Don’t rely on spell check as mistakes can still slip through. You may also want to get someone else to read over your CV before you send it out – they may pick up on things you have missed.

For more information visit

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Job interview tips

Making a good first impression

First impressions count! An interviewer will make a judgement within the first few seconds of an interview, so it’s important to make sure it’s a good impression.

Part of this is how you dress. Think about how you want to be seen by the interviewer. You want to portray a professional image, therefore dressing professionally and appearing well groomed will show you are a confident person who takes pride in themselves and can be trusted to represent the company.

Similarly, you want to appear confident through your actions. Arrive early, smile and greet the interviewer appropriately. There’s no point looking the part if you turn up late and flustered.

Research the employer prior to your interview

Part of job interview preparation is researching your potential employer. Google the employer and check out their website and any social media sites they may have. You can use the information you learn from this to demonstrate your knowledge in the interview and impress the interviewer, as well as to build any questions you may want to ask.

Sell yourself

An interview is the perfect time for you to show the employer why you’re the best candidate for the job.

Analyse the job description and pick out skills you have which would help you carry out the tasks stated. You can use previous experiences, qualifications you have gained or examples to demonstrate how you would be successful in the role.

Use the ‘STAR’ method and tailor your answers to suit the job you’re applying for:

  • Situation: Give a brief overview of the situation you found yourself in to provide some context.
  • Task: Describe what you were doing and what the challenge was.
  • Action: Explain what you did to complete the task and overcome any challenges.
  • Results: Reveal the outcome.

Body language

Your body language says a lot about you, so you need to make sure you’re aware of how you’re presenting yourself.

Using your hands to talk can make you appear more animated and help you communicate, however you don’t want to go overboard.

If you’re a fidgeter, you need to make a conscious effort to avoid fiddling with things, such as pens or jewellery.

You want to look professional and confident in yourself, so avoid slouching in your chair or folding your arms. Try smiling and maintain eye contact with your interviewer.

Dealing with nerves

Nerves before an interview are common and normal. If you have done all the correct job interview preparation, you should be feeling confident in your knowledge, however being able to control your nerves during the interview is key.

You want to come across as calm and confident, so don’t rush to answer any questions. Listen carefully to what the interviewer says, think about your answers and draw on what you have prepared.

Ask questions

You should have come up with a few questions from your pre-interview preparation, so now is the time to ask away.

Asking intelligent questions shows the interviewer that you have taken an interest in the company and are serious about the position. Asking questions about progression, the future and what can be expected shows you are a forward thinker and want to develop and grow the company.

Don’t overshare

Be careful about the information you share with the interviewer. Of course you will have to discuss a lot of personal information, such as your previous jobs and reasons for leaving, however if you’ve had any issues or bad experiences, you don’t want to mention these. This will make you look unprofessional and personal and may cause the interviewer to consider your attitude to your work.

Similarly, if you have any personal or private issues in your life, you want to avoid talking about these as you could run the risk of looking unprofessional or cause the interviewer to worry you may be distracted in work by your private life.

End on a positive note

At the end of the interview, enquire what the next steps are or when you can expect to hear back on the outcome of your interview. Once everything is done, thank the interviewer for their time and tell them that you look forward to hearing from them.

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