Five top tips for attracting IT contractor talent

It’s not been easy to hire IT contractors in the last year. And don’t just take my word for it. According to our contractor day rate guide, published in June, 95% of organisations are facing skill shortages, and 91% admit they have found it difficult to hire contractors in the last 12 months, writes James Hallahan, director of technology solutions (UK&I) at Hays.

So here, exclusively for ContractorUK, are my five top tips for attracting contractor talent.

1. Optimise the hiring process

With the competition for skills far from faltering, it’s crucial from the offset that the hiring process for tech contractors is succinct and seamless. The opposite of this may alienate prospective talent.

I’d strongly advise working to a fast, well-organised turnaround time when selecting a successful contractor for a role. So ensure that interviews and assessment objectives are clearly communicated, with a short period of time in between the distinct stages.

A final suggestion to optimise your hiring process as a contractor would be to rely on a recruitment partner to source those candidates that are both established and qualified. With us agents, make sure you clarify the soft and hard skills that you require from the beginning to additionally minimise your time of hire.

2. Prioritise flexible working

Contractors prioritise companies that prove they can provide a healthy work-life balance. I’d go as far as saying that it’s pivotal to be accommodating and flexible where possible when it comes to models of work.

Our contractor day rate guide revealed that 61% of tech professionals stated that their work-life balance has improved since the Covid-19 lockdown began. What this tells us is that hybrid and remote models of working have benefited contractors’ work-life balance. As a result, aside from the day rate, this was the top priority for contractors when considering a new role.

Delving further into the June 2022 data, a considerable 48% of contractors disclosed that they would prefer a role that was fully remote, with 39% revealing that they preferred a largely remote role with only a few days in the office a month. These stats are important to consider when choosing an appropriate model of work for contractors.

3. Offer competitive day rates

It may be stating the obvious but having an attractive day rate is also a must to attract contractor talent.

Levels of pay need to be benchmarked accurately. Coordinating this with a recruitment professional is an easy way of ensuring the day rate is appropriate for the role and seniority level. You don’t want to lose out on the perfect fit for your project over a handful of pounds!

Considering the current cost of living crisis, perhaps unsurprisingly, a third of contractors’ engagers have reported that they expect day rates to increase by 5% -- or more, in the following year. Bear in mind, just over a third (36%) of contractors have had their daily rate increased by 5% -- or more, in the last 12 months.

Therefore, acknowledging the economic climate and competitors’ rates is fundamental.

4. Navigate IR35 reform

The IR35 reforms that came into effect for the private sector in April 2021, affecting large and medium-sized organisations shifted the responsibility for determining whether a contractor is inside or outside IR53 from the personal services company to the engager.

As a result, 66% of contractors revealed that it is important to them that their future role is outside IR35. And if an assignment was inside IR35, 61% of tech contractors would seek an out-of-scope contract instead.

5. Communicate ways of working effectively

Finally, communicating your company culture and ways of working effectively may give you the edge over competitors.

For example, flexible work hours – or ‘flexitime’ (i.e. where individuals can choose their work hours and work around their commitments) proved to be popular with contractors, with 42% stating that it would improve their work-life balance.  So, if your company provides flexitime, definitely shout about this!

Friday 12th Aug 2022
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Written by James Hallahan

James Hallahan, Hays, Director of Technology Solutions (UK&I), has over 20 years’ experience in technology and digital recruitment, and solutions that deliver outcomes for customer success. James is responsible for delivering strategic growth across both the private and public sectors, through scaling existing products and services and innovating with new solutions to both existing and new markets within which we operate

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