Contractors' Questions: Is a permie job a shoo-in?

Contractor's Question: Would skilled contractors in financial services be able to easily jump to a permanent IT job involving their contract skill, without too much difficulty?

Answer: The same thing that happened in and round the last downturn of 2002 is happening today – contractors are looking at permanent jobs.

Like today, there was then a marked decline in freelance IT contracts. But regardless of whether people prefer full-time or contract, people need to work, and if there aren't the contract roles readily available, as in 2002 and 2009, then contractors may feel almost forced to consider permanent roles.

We've had lots of situations where strong freelance candidates are put forward for permanent roles, and then two offers emerge on the table: one contract, the other perm, and invariably, the candidates still go for the contract roles.

It's fair to say employers are cautious about taking on contractor-types for permanent roles, mindful that they may leave once the contract market swings back in their favour. As an employer hiring a permanent headcount, you want comfort that the person you consider really wants the role as their career. At the moment, IT employers will probably be a little bit cynical because they know the contract market is down, so contractors going for permanent roles will be met with a slightly cautious approach.

That is, of course, unless the employer is convinced that the candidate actually wants the full-time role, for the permanent career it can offer. If the employer is left in any doubt, it's comparable to an experienced programme manager applying for a junior project manager role. For the employer, both these job applications will smack of being the candidate's 'alternative,' because the market is thinning, rather than their 'ideal.'

Answer, as told to CUK, by Paul Elworthy, associate director of Banking and Financial Services IT recruitment at Hudson, which supplies financial markets in the City of London, Docklands, the South East of England, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin.