Contractors’ Questions: Which is the busiest month for IT recruitment?
Contractor’s Question: Is there a particularly hot time of year or a traditionally buoyant month for IT contractor recruitment? I know December’s normally dead. And within that hot month, when’s the best time? Is it the front-end of the month, when projects begin, or is it the back-end of the month when freelancers and temporary specialists are sought to fill the ‘gaps’ - posts unfilled by permanent staff?
Expert’s Answer: Many clients take on IT contractors for three or six-month periods. This means that there is always an end of quarter ‘crunch’ – where agencies are frantically trying to extend the contracted period or place the finishing contractor elsewhere. Normally, this occurs at the end of March, June, September and December.
Why at the end of those months in particular? Well, the end of March coincides with the end of the tax year and, quite often, with the end of the company's trading year. Or in the public sector, it coincides with the end-of-year and end of budget. December is unique in that the client simply says lets extend the contractor until the end of the year and many agencies simply accept that. Smarter agencies recommend to the client that they extend until no earlier than the end of January, as December is a tough month for a finishing contractor to get placed elsewhere. So contractor numbers in an agency will often dip at the end of each quarter.
Equally, and as you might expect, July and August will slowdown recruitment activity as holidays are taken by hiring managers, so CVs aren't read and interviews can't be arranged.
More traditionally buoyant months for hiring IT professionals include the early part of the calendar year – so fresh from the Christmas holiday, the client will get cracking with a project or next phase, and on the eve of half-year - in April and May, when new budgets are released and projects started.
We don’t see a lot of different activity levels within a monthly period; the first week may or may not be busier than the last week. However, naturally a new project will reach its most labour-intensive periods at development and testing. Yet since projects start and end at different times all over the country, this hasn’t resulted in a pattern of behaviour that is applicable nationwide, outside of the quarter-end issues. IT contractors might therefore consider trying to get their contract to finish outside of the quarter-end months, as there will be less competition around in those periods.
The expert was Jeff Brooks, chairman of IT jobs agency Primesourcing, and chairman for the technology sector at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.