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Contractor Job News

A new code of practice has been introduced for agencies, based on the 1998 Data Protection Act.

If you are to get a good rise at renewal time, you have to be able to back it up with your ability and knowledge. You don't want to be the most expensive person at your site, as well as the least technically good. Don't bargain without holding a good hand.

Once you've started the job, knock yourself out for the first month to get yourself a good reputation. Once you've made a reputation, good or bad, it will be very difficult to lose it. Once you've made yourself a good reputation, try to ingratiate yourself with the boss a bit, or certainly with the one who is going to be responsible for your renewal, and who knows what cut the agency are taking.

Parity now get 59% of their revenues through Preferred Supplier Agreements. They also announced the signing of several big contracts worth £15-20m over a 3-year period, at the same time as announcing profits down from £18.3m to £6.5m.

After the series on Agency Tactics: How to Deal With Them, and the most recent one on Getting a Good Rate from the Agency, the following riposte was sent by a recruitment consultant, who would like to take issue with some of the advice given, and some statements made.

The agent, of course, knows exactly what is happening, i.e. that you have other interviews and are holding back to see what happens there, but their chess pieces are completely surrounded, and they have no more moves.

In the first circumstance, where the client offers 535 per day, then you tell the agent that although you'll come down to 560 per day, that'll be your bottom line. You are only 25 quid away from an agreement, and it is too tantalising for the agent.

If you can avoid it, try not to quote a rate to the agency in the beginning. If you can do this, then you're really in the driving seat if you go for a job interview and the company wants you.

The majority of agents are decent people, but likely many people who are under threat of their jobs and are getting desperate, they will sometimes resort to desperate tactics.

My favourite 'grenade' thrown at candidates at an interview is, after the candidate is asked what his or her strong points are, the interviewer then follows up by asking what their weak points are. Anyone who answers that honestly doesn't deserve to hold a job. If you answer it honestly, you probably won't get one either. A friend of mine once, when asked what his weak points were, replied that he cried at sad movies. The interviewer was tickled by this and he got the job.

There has long been the suspicion that a number of recruitment agencies use fake job board advertisements in their never-ending mission to harvest fresh CV's from job seekers. All contractors know this happens, and the various contractor discussion boards contain numerous postings on this subject. Although industry guidelines forbid the use of 'phantom vacancy' ads, we all know they are used on a daily basis.

Despite the recent downturn in the market, several recruitment related industries have made this year's Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list, which is based on increases in year on year sales revenue.

Ever wonder why some agencies don't want to know you, even when you're perfect for a job for which they've advertised? It could be that someone you work with is 'doing the dirty on you' according to the following report from contractors' reunion site, NamesFacesPlaces

A recent article, published by technology news site, VNUNet, reveals how IT staffing contracts are effectively being put up for auction and given to the lowest bidder. This latest trend is seen as further evidence of the growing downturn in IT spending and continuing problems for the recruitment industry.

Although three years in business is not such a big deal in normal business circles, it certainly is in the Internet world. Since Contractor UK was born in 1998, we have seen literally hundreds of recruitment-related sites rise and fall within a short period of time. The 'Direct Contract' recruitment model whereby contractors source work directly from clients and cut out the middleman, was heralded as the future of contracting back in 1999/2000.

Two of the UK's largest job boards have made the Sunday Times ARM Tech Track 100 league table, which ranks technology companies according to their compound annual growth rates.

MMT Computing, the IT services company, has just announced figures which show that they lost £2.8m in the year just past, compared to a profit of £6m last year. Turnover was down by 18%.

Online recruitment giant, Stepstone, is the latest casualty of the global economic slowdown. The Company has announced the closure of its UK arm in a radical shake-up of its European operations. 500 jobs are to be lost as a result of the changes.

Recruitment agency, Harvey Nash, this week announced a large slump in profits to the year ending 31st July 2001. Although turnover increased by over 30% to £126.4m, operating profit was down from £7m to £1.7m and profits before tax were down from £6.7m to £0.7m.

An optimistic picture for the longer-term future of the IT recruitment market was spelled out in London this week by Don McLaurin, Chief Executive of the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (NACCB), the US association representing IT recruitment companies.

The long-term growth in the use of IT contractors is likely to resume soon says Plexian, the leading IT staffing agency. The recent downsizing of the IT sector has seen a sudden reversal in the trend of the last 10 years that, until now, has seen contract workers replacing permanent positions across the sector.

As regular visitors to Contractor UK will know only too well, the last year has not been a good time for IT contractors. Although some of the 'major' IT news sites are biased towards permanent IT workers and report the poor state of the IT contract market with seeming 'glee', few can deny that we have seen better times in past years.

Firstly, no advice about firm hand shakes, and looking people in the eye. A load of tosh! If you are confident, and know your stuff, then the interviewer is not going to care if you break his hand or not, or look lovingly in his eyes!

A glimpse of the medium-term future of IT in the UK was given to members of ATSCo in June. It is predicted that there will be some extremely exciting developments in the next two years, with a 30% increase by 2003 in the proportion of jobs which are in IT related roles.

Recruitment giant, Jobserve, has come in at No.19 on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 index. Showing a 71.14% annual growth rate, the Company has led the internet recruitment marketplace for nearly a decade.

Low unemployment figures are masking instability in the job market, with many recruitment agencies fearing a decline in their sectors, claims London-based financial outsourcing firm, LSM Group.

Many contractors leave permanent work to get away from office politics and the constant drive to earn promotions. According to a new research released to Contractor UK by the BBC, many permies could benefit from a confidence boost and should become pushier in the workplace!

Forty-four per cent of European companies are reporting difficulties in filling vacancies in the IT industry, according to online news and recruitment service,'s third annual Skills Survey published today. The skills crisis in the UK however, has eased in the last year, dropping from 47 per cent of unfilled vacancies to 39 per cent.

How IT contractors find work - via agencies, or direct. How to IT contractors select agencies, and which job sites are the most visited.

The Professional Contractors Group has reported a recruitment agency, Computer People, to the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming that potential clients can avoid employment issues surrounding IR35 if they put an agent between themselves and any contractors.

The Sunday Telegraph has published an article on Jobserve, one of the most profitable dot com's in the UK and job site of choice for most IT contractors.

More than 500,000 temporary workers, ranging from office staff to models and actors, will enjoy greater protection from exploitation and be able to move from temporary to permanent work more easily, thanks to new employment rules announced today by Industry Minister Alan Johnson.

The vast majority contract via agencies (58%), with a sizeable number (26%) working direct for clients. 11% of our visitors are not currently working.

A recent survey of 125 blue-chip companies carried out by, a direct recruitment website, has unearthed some concerns regarding the performance of some IT recruitment agencies.

The Recruitment and Employment Federation, which represents thousands of recruitment agencies has published the survey results from its conference earlier this year.

Another tack that you might want to try, is to try and buy out the agency. If you know that there is plenty of work there, e.g. 2/3 years worth, and that they rate you highly, have a word with your boss about the prospects of them wanting you for an extended period.

Contractors are always complaining about the 'tricks' that agents get up to, in order to 'rip them off', find out who's recruiting, and to get them to sign contracts before they go to other interviews etc.

The Association of Online Recruiters (AOLR) was officially launched last week by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) following the rapid growth of Internet based recruitment services over the past few years. REC has 5800 corporate and 7800 individual members.

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