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With email and social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), there are plenty of ways to reach clients these days. However, many recruiters find that nothing works quite as well as the old fashioned phone call.

Volumes have been written on how to make cold calls and how to motivate yourself to make them, but we haven’t seen much that helps recruiters who are specifically trying to make contract placements.  So here a few tips to get your contract staffing cold calls started in the right direction:

1—Make sure you are talking to the right person.

It used to be that recruiters always went to hiring managers for contract job orders. That appears to be changing as contractors become a more constant fixture at many companies, which are building blended workforce models around them as part of a long-term business strategy. Many companies, especially larger organizations, are putting the Human Resources Department (HR) in charge of ALL talent acquisition, including contracting. This includes approving vendors for contract job orders, so you won’t get far without HR at these companies. For this reason, more recruiters are starting with HR for all their job orders, or at least keeping HR in the loop as they discuss open positions with the hiring manager.

2—Be a problem-solver.

You have probably heard that you should listen more than you talk during a cold call. That goes double for contract staffing cold calls. Find out what obstacles the companies are encountering and then recommend contract staffing to solve those problems when it makes sense. This is how you can go from being a recruiter or a salesperson to a true staffing partner. There are several questions you can ask to determine whether they may have a need for contractors:

  • Do you have a special project or critical deadline? These situations often require extra staff or specialized skills that won’t be needed forever. Your clients can bring in contractors to fulfill those needs and simply end the contracts when the work is done.
  • Do you have a backlog you can’t address due to budget issues? Companies can utilize contractors to pick up the slack, even during a hiring freeze, because the funds for contractors come out of a different budget from direct hires, and contractors do not create a long-term financial commitment.
  • Are you concerned about potential tax risks associated with 1099 independent contractors (ICs)? Government agencies continue to step up enforcement and are working together to identify worker misclassification. This significantly increases the penalties employers could face. Therefore, if there is any chance that a company’s ICs are misclassified, it is critical that they evaluate the IRS guidelines and reclassify those ICs as W-2 employees. You can help by offering to convert your clients’ ICs to W-2 employees who are employed by a contracting back-office. This allows your clients to escape the high costs and administrative burden of employment without the risks of audits, back taxes, and penalties.
  • Do you want to evaluate a candidate’s skills prior to offering direct employment? Contract-to-direct arrangements allow them to “try before they buy.” This has become more important in our uncertain economy. Companies continue to be nervous about hiring and only want to do so if they have the “perfect” candidate, and contract-to-direct can help them get the best match possible.

3—Not all calls have to be cold.

Remember, 80% of a recruiters’ contract staffing business comes from their existing direct hire clients. Are all of your clients aware of your contract staffing services? Have you asked them the questions above to determine their need for contractors? If not, it may be time to catch up with your best clients. Contract staffing is also a great way to address a current client’s fear of making a direct hire commitment. If they are unsure of a candidate, you can allow them to try the person on a contract-to-direct basis. T hey can then evaluate the candidate’s skills and knowledge on the job and then decide whether or not they want to extend a direct hire offer.


If you have marketing materials dedicated to your contract staffing services, now is the time to use them. You can mail or email them to your prospects to remind them about your discussion and what you can provide them. Or if you were unable to connect on the phone, the marketing materials can go over the major points and hopefully encourage them to call you. If you work with a contract staffing back-office, they may be able to help you create contract staffing marketing documents.

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