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It’s hard to believe, but it is already time to start planning for the end of the year. If you are like most recruiters, you want to close as many recruitment offers as possible before the ball drops on 2014.

This may be easier said than done. As previously mentioned on this blog, clients are dragging their feet on hiring decisions.  Fortunately, there are some ways to gently nudge them into making hiring decisions before the end of the year. It may be as simple as advocating strongly for a candidate you believe in or reminding the client that they could lose great talent if the hiring process takes too long. If you need a little extra help, we have a suggestion: contract-to-hire arrangements.

In these arrangements, companies can initially utilize a candidate on a contract basis and later convert them to a direct hire if they want. This addresses a number of company’s hiring hangups, especially this time of year:

  1. Hiring freezes and budget constraints –  Like you, companies are focusing on their bottom lines at this time of year. If they don’t like what they see, they may scale back their hiring plans or freeze hiring altogether, putting any open job orders you may have with them in jeopardy.  But don’t give up on your job orders. While your clients may not be able to hire direct during this time, they may be able to bring in contractors.  Contractors typically come from a different budget than direct hires. Therefore, companies can often utilize them even during a hiring freeze.  When the budget loosens up or they start a new fiscal year, they can then convert their contractors to direct hire if they wish.
  1. Economic uncertainty – Even if a company is happy with their financial situation, they may be keeping a cautious eye on the economy. There are a number of factors contributing to their uncertainty. For starters, the political unrest in Congress promises to get even more intense with the upcoming elections during which all of the House of Representative seats and a third of the Senate seats will be contested. Then there are the ever-increasing employment regulations and the unknown future impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). These factors are leaving companies feeling less than secure about permanently adding to their overhead. Contract-to-direct offers a risk-free way for them to bring in help.  If the economy goes south, they can simply end the contracts. If they instead start to feel more secure about the economy, they can extend direct hire offers to their contractors.
  1. The “Perfect Candidate Syndrome” – If companies do have to hire during this uncertainty, they seem to be holding out for the “perfect” candidate. As a result, otherwise great candidates are getting passed up because they don’t appear to have 100% of what the company is looking for. This can be extremely frustrating for you as a recruiter when you know that you have presented a star candidate who would excel in the position.  With the contract-to-direct option, you can convince your client to try the candidate on a contract basis. This allows them to evaluate the candidate on the job and gain confidence that he/she is the perfect candidate. If the candidate does prove to be a great fit, the client can then convert them to a direct hire. If not, the company can try someone else.  A number of companies are using this option to not only ensure that candidates have the right skills but also to evaluate how they fit in with the organization’s corporate culture.

Besides helping you close placements that might have otherwise fallen off, contract-to-direct also gives you the opportunity to make more money.  You are paid for every hour the candidate works during the contract period and even more if they work overtime. Additionally, you can earn a conversion fee if/when the contractor is converted to a direct hire.

Ending the year on a high note can be as easy as offering your clients an alternative way to meet their staffing needs. By doing this, you will not only be able to close more placements, you can also strengthen your relationship with your client, ensuring many successful years to come.

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