Contract staffing is on a roll and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
In December, it hit an all-time high with almost 3 million jobs. Some experts predict that 40-50% of the workforce will be contract by 2020. This is great news for recruiters who offer contract staffing, but there is a caveat — competition for top contract talent is getting fiercer. Candidates will be looking closely at how recruiting firms can help them meet both their career and personal goals. How can you establish your firm as the firm of choice for top contract candidates?
Traits of Top Contract Candidates
First, let’s see what makes up a top contract candidate. Of course, you are going to look for many of the same things you would look for in a direct hire. Do they have the required skills set and experience? Do they have a good track record of getting results? But beyond these factors, there are a number of traits that often correlate to great contract candidates:
They thrive on challenge. Companies often utilize contractors to complete tough projects and meet tight deadlines. Some people would find that stressful. Top contract candidates find it exciting.
They love variety. They love working on new projects with different companies and people, and even in different geographic locations. Variety and change are among the top reasons some workers prefer contract assignments.
They are impact players. Those attracted to contract work tend to want to make a difference. Working on contract allows them to quickly see the impact of their work.
They are focused, but flexible. Contractors usually work under strict deadlines, so they have to be good at buckling down and getting it done. But they also realize that, under the new blended workforce model, they have to be flexible. In this model, where they are typically part of an outer ring supporting an inner core of direct hires, projects shift and things can change rapidly.
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They are continuous learners. The best contractors love to learn and pick up new skills. They see contract assignments as a way to broaden their horizons and enhance their resumes.
Becoming the Firm of Choice
In addition to simply having a contract assignment, contract candidates have to take a hard look at the recruiting firm they are working with because that firm (or its contract staffing back-office) will be their legal employer. They are going to look at the whole package, not just the pay rate, including:
- A regular (at least biweekly) paycheck;
- Health insurance that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare);
- Dental, vision, and life insurance;
- Access to a 401(k) savings plan;
- Option of direct deposit (especially for remote contractors).
But being the firm of choice won’t do you any good if no one knows about it. There are three main ways to reach out to contract candidates and educate them on the advantages of working with your firm:
- Internet and social media. Make sure your website includes an extensive contractor section that lists the benefits mentioned. And don’t forget about social media. In addition to your job postings, share relevant articles and join in discussions to establish yourself as the expert in your niche to ensure that when candidates need a recruiter for contract positions, they will think of you.
- Direct hire candidates and referrals. Recruiters have told us that their current database of direct hire candidates is the best place to find contract candidates. Ask candidates if they would be willing to consider contract assignments — and if they know anyone else that would.
- Marketing documents. One recruiter recently experienced success when she followed up with a candidate by sending a marketing document. The document highlighted the advantages of contract staffing, along with the benefit package available to the candidate. As a result, she landed that candidate, who is now working on a new contract assignment, and got two referrals. If you are working with a contract staffing back-office, ask if they can provide marketing materials. For instance, recruiters who use Top Echelon Contracting can sign up here for free customized marketing documents.
As you can see, the process for identifying, finding, and attracting contract candidates isn’t much different from the direct placement process. But if you want to attract the highest quality candidates, you will want to be sure you are the firm of choice.