There are a number of reasons why recruiters shy away from contract placements, but most of those reasons are results of myths or misconceptions. One common myth about contract staffing is that you have to have a stable of contractors ready because clients may request them at a moment's notice.
This misconception is tied to the temp agency model. They have a group of temps who are employed by the agency and are sent out to assignment after assignment, most of which only last a few weeks at the most. The use of temps in this model is more common for blue collar and clerical positions where turnover is more frequent and immediate replacement is necessary. Temps are also often used to fill in for absent workers due to vacations, maternity leaves, disability leaves, etc.
Contract staffing is a different animal. Contractors are highly skilled individuals who typically fall into the professional, technical, or healthcare realm. They are most often used for long-term projects that last six to nine months and often even longer.
While the lead time is usually shorter than direct hire placements, it is not the warp speed situation many recruiters envision. The lead time is generally a few days or a week or two, depending on the search. Many recruiters actually like the quicker nature of contract placements. While clients want to ensure that they are getting someone with the right skills, they are less concerned about a cultural fit, so you can bypass all the second guessing, third and fourth interviews, and requests for more and more candidates. If you present a candidate who has the right qualifications for the contract assignment, it is likely they will be selected.
Chances are, you already have the stable of contractors you need in your database anyway. Recruiters have told us that their best source for contract candidates are their direct hire candidates. Simply ask every candidate if they would be willing to work on a contract assignment. As flexibility becomes a key issue for workers, more of them are turning to contract staffing where there is more leeway when it comes to when and where the work is completed, the work schedule, daily requirements, etc.
Contract staffing can smooth out the peaks and valleys of direct hire. Don't turn away from it just because you don't think you have a stable of contractors. Give contract staffing a second look. You may be surprised at what you find.