When offered a software engineering contract role in the UK, how long is it acceptable to think about it?

For a permanent position, I would think a few days is acceptable, but unsure if this also applies to contract roles. In my case, the roles are for 3+ months, starting between 0 and 2 weeks from the time of offer, but I'm interested in thoughts on other situations as well.

  • @Dukeling I think that question is about permanent roles, while this is about contract positions. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 10:06
  • 1
    I don't think there's an objective difference between the acceptable timeframe for accepting contract versus permanent offers (the acceptable timeframe is already variable and subjective to begin with), but for (short) contract offers companies might be a bit more likely to not want to wait e.g. a week (it will depend on a lot of factors though - start date and duration are certainly two of them, and how you compare to other candidates is another one). Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 10:11
  • "the roles are for 3+ months, starting between 0 and 2 weeks from the time of offer" FWIW, just one man's opinion, generally you'd need to give a firm answer that same day or the next day. Really, as you have the final discussion (the "last discussion" where you mutually decide to do it) the decision would be made. A further point though, and on the other hand: for such a short contract, it's not possible to wait up to two weeks to kickoff. I would just treat it as a fait accompli that you have to start immediately - the next day. You can't be waiting 2 weeks to start a short contract
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 11:41
  • @Fattie You should post that as an answer - while it's your opinion, it's presumably based on your experience in the field and therefore as valid as (say) mine. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 12:21
  • hey @PhilipKendall, happy new year, you're probably right but, the Q is probably going to be closed anyway; and my critical point is really the other part - that the role is probably flakey since you can't be waiting "two weeks" for a short contract ... I don't like to XY things, you know? :O
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


Depends a lot on the nature of the contract, but not long - generally if I'm hiring a contractor it's because I have work that needs to be done real soon now. Unless you're prepared to commit a decision in a day or so, then I'm going to be talking to other contractors, because I can't afford to wait three days and then hear "no sorry, I've taken another job" - and if one of those other contractors is prepared to commit to a decision, then I'll likely go with them rather than with you.

As always, communication is key here. Keep your potential client informed as to what you're doing - I may be prepared to wait some extra time if I know when you're going to make a decision; the worst thing of all is for radio silence when I have no idea what you're doing.

  • If a contractor is being hired, generally its to fill a gap that is needed urgently. I would think you would have less time to think about contract gigs versus full times. This answer is on point.
    – Neo
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 13:41

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