As the job market has rebounded, we are fully entrenched in a candidate-driven market. This is true in both the contract staffing and direct-hire worlds. How do recruiters find candidates that are open to contract placement? Candidates are increasingly choosing contract staffing as a lifestyle, so it is more important than ever that you establish yourself as the recruiter of choice if you want to find, attract, and retain the best contract candidates.
Step 1—Look for the Traits Top Contract Candidates Share. First, you have to know what to look for. Beyond the obvious things you look for in any candidate—do they have the right experience level and skill set? How is their track record? etc.—there are several traits that tend to be found in great contract candidates:
- They thrive on variety. Geographic location, company, coworker, or project—they want variety in their work. Top contract candidates enjoy and seek out change, which is one of the reasons these workers look for contract assignments.
- They love a challenge. Tough projects and tight deadlines are an ideal contract candidate’s “bread and butter.” They find these things exciting, not stressful.
- They are ongoing learners. Contract candidates typically love learning new things and developing new skills. Contract assignments are the perfect way for them to keep growing professionally.
- They want to make a difference. Working on contract lets these candidates see the difference their work makes quickly and clearly, and having an impact is important to them.
- They are flexible. While the best contractors are used to working under strict deadlines, they also know they have to be flexible in order to succeed. They are comfortable with projects changing and expectations shifting, and they know how to “roll with the punches.”
Step 2—Become Their Recruiter of Choice. In order to be the recruiter contract candidates trust and turn to, you have to understand what they want and then strive to satisfy those desires. You will find that their needs and wants aren’t that different from those of ALL workers:
- Fair pay. Pay structure is one of the reasons that workers are gravitating toward contract staffing. In a direct position, they would typically be paid on a salary basis, but most contract assignments are hourly. Therefore, contractors are paid for every hour worked and even more if they work overtime. There are a number of ways you can establish competitive contractor pay rates. You can start with the typical salary a direct hire would make in a similar position and divide by 2080 (the typical number of hours worked in a year). You can also conduct salary research at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and www.salary.com websites. We discuss other techniques for calculating contractor pay rates and the hourly bill rate charged to the client at How to Establish Contract Bill Rates.
- Benefits. In the past, a worker may not have expected to receive benefits during a contract assignment, but that has changed. In its 2014 Temporary Worker Survey, Staffing Industry Analysts found that nearly half of professional contractors DO receive healthcare insurance. This is even more crucial now that most Americans are required to carry healthcare insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). And with the ever-rising costs of benefits, particularly healthcare insurance, contractors are looking at their TOTAL compensation package, not just their pay rate, when deciding on a position. If you are unable to provide healthcare insurance to your contractors, you may want to align yourself with a contract staffing back-office service that can do so. This could make or break your ability to attract and retain star contractors.
- Great assignments. Contract candidates are going to go where they can find the best assignments. They want to work on meaningful projects where they can easily see the impact of their work. They want flexible scheduling options. The quality of assignments you can offer is only as good as your client pool. Remember to tell all your direct-hire clients that you can also offer contract staffing. There are a number of ways that you can market your services through the Internet and more traditional means to get a wider range of clients and contract job orders.
- Communication. Communication is important in any employment arrangement, but it is often more difficult to maintain in a contract staffing situation because you do not see your contractor every day. But in many cases, you are their first point of contact. The client company may not relay feedback directly to the contractor, so it’s up to you to tell them how the assignment is going. If they have a tentative end date, they may also look to you for information regarding any possibility of extension. This communication does not have to be a huge endeavor or take a lot of time. Simply checking in with the contractor once and a while will help you maintain a strong relationship… and increase the chances that you will get to place them again in the future.
With contract staffing comes a mountain of administrative tasks that can chew through your time. When you use FoxHire’s employer of record services, we handle the administrative work so that you can do what you do best – recruit!