It appears that we are now entering a candidate-driven market in BOTH the direct hire AND contract staffing worlds. As candidates increasingly choose contract staffing as a lifestyle, recruiters are becoming more concerned about being the recruiter of choice for contract candidates.
The first step towards this is understanding what contract candidates want. Fortunately, it's not all that different from what ALL workers want, but how recruiters go about satisfying those needs may be a little different than it is for direct hire candidates.
- Good pay. One big reason that candidates like contract staffing is the pay structure. Unlike a direct position where they would likely be paid on a salary basis, most contract assignments are hourly. That means contractors get paid for every hour they work and even more if they work overtime. To establish a competitive pay rate, you can start with the average salary a direct hire would make in a similar position and divide it by 2080 (the typical number of hours worked in a year). Sites such as Bureau of Labor Statistics and www.salary.com are also available to help you do salary research.
- Insurance Benefits. A worker may not have expected insurance benefits for contract assignments in the past, but that is changing. Staffing Industry Analysts found in its 2014 Temporary Worker Survey that nearly half of professional contractors DO receive healthcare insurance while on assignment. This is even more important to contractors now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) requires most Americans to carry healthcare insurance. As benefits costs continue to increase nationwide, contractors are looking at their TOTAL compensation package, not just their regular pay, when deciding whether to accept a position. Can you provide the benefits contractors are seeking? If not, you may want to consider outsourcing their employment to a contract staffing back-office service that can offer those benefits because without them, you may not be able to attract and retain star contractors.
- Great assignments. Contract candidates want quality assignments where they can easily see the impact of their work. They want a flexible schedule. Your ability to satisfy those needs directly impacts your ability to attract great contract candidates. To get the greatest variety of assignments, there are a number of ways you can market your contract staffing services to clients to get contract job orders. The first and easiest way is to ask all of your direct hire clients if they have contract staffing needs. There are also endless ways to promote your services through the Internet and more traditional means to get a wider range of clients and contract job orders.
- Communication. All workers seek effective communication, but it is perhaps even more critical in contract staffing arrangements because there are more parties involved (the recruiter, the company, perhaps a back-office service). Contractors often see you as their first point of contact because they may not be able to get the feedback they desire from the client company. They may ask you how the assignment is going from the client's perspective. If they have a tentative end date, they may also need you to discuss the possibility of extension. You don't have to spend a lot of time on this communication. Just check in with the contractor occasionally. That simple courtesy can help you create a loyal contractor who you can place again and again on contract assignments.
Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.