Neil is a senior Digital Business consultant & entrepreneur having spent over 20 years in the traditional advertising and creative sector. He currently works as a senior technologist supporting business going through transformation and digital change.
I’ve been a contractor for 8 years.
I’ve talked to hundreds of Recruiters, been to a lot of interviews and searched LinkedIn, Jobsite and other marketplaces for contract and interim roles suitable for my experience and you know what? I’ve not found the magic formula yet.
With my career, it has taken me on a journey to many places including big corporates as well as small start-ups and the challenge I’ve faced each and every time is the barrier of the “Agent”.
The Agent always tries to ensure they have the best interest of the client at heart – most likely been given a job brief and had a call with the hiring manager. If they are lucky, they may have met them for an hour to be briefed correctly on the role.
This stage I call “The Scattergun”.
Do a cursory search for people on your internal CV database (that is woefully out of date), or try LinkedIn for anyone with the skills that might fit the profile they have in hand.
Next, comes the blanket email to all address that The Agent thinks are suitable and like a fisherman, hopes one or two bite and emails a response back!
And we will. Job seekers are hungry for a new contract so we will be in touch, so at least do us the courtesy of calling back that same day…
After updated CV’s are issued and The Agent reassures you that you are perfect for the job, it all goes quiet and you end up chasing to hear news on whether your CV has even been reviewed by the hiring manager.
Just when you think all hope is lost and you’re back to looking at the job boards again, the bloody phone goes.
You’ve got an interview!
So now we move onto the “Bum Sniff” stage – so called because it is basically two dogs circling around each other to see whether ‘the candidate’ is suitable for the work needed.
It is not like a normal interview for a fulltime member of staff. Skills and experience are less relevant I’ve found at this stage – as long as you are a good personality fit, make a good connection with the hiring manager and don’t muck up.
I’ve a lot of observations over this process, buy me a coffee and I’ll share some of my war stories.
Some Agents are better than others obviously – you quickly find out those that are willing to go the extra mile to get you an interview. These Agents are worth their weight in gold.
Starting the contract, you enter the “Grind” stage.
After you’ve sorted out your keycard and laptop, had a brief intro to the team – you begin to work on the project. Some clients are very engaging and can be great to work for. Others… well, form your own conclusion but I didn’t stay working for them long.
Mis-management or poor leadership can be a reason why this role is a contract position in the first place. Having a line manager who is disinterested, or too busy to support you means the project may be doomed. Finding a way to overcome this is the sign of a good contractor.
I mean, come on! You’re being paid a good daily rate, plus a hefty commission often costing more in 6 months’ than a fulltime member of staff. I’m here to aid the company- so work together and make it a success.
I’ve had managers who I never see for days – and the only interaction is a weekly 30 min chat and my timesheet approved!
The last stage I’ve experience is the “Confusion & Panic” stage.
Knowing the contract is ending soon, no one has discussed an extension and other Agencies are sending you roles chasing you to start the process all over again. You’d hate to be out of work. The lovely taxman need paying again and you’re being chased to pay for a holiday to Disneyland you’ve promised the kids!
This is when you really find out who are the good recruiters.
Extension in hand, you’re secure another 3 months. Phew. Panic over.
What I can tell you about my experience is recruitment for contractors is changing.
I see new apps like rightgig offering the right approach for clients to source their own talent directly. Recruiters need to look up from their CV database and realise that change is happening. Oh, and GDPR anyone? I’m sure my CV from 4 years’ ago needs my permission to be stored on your servers…
I’ve been lucky in that my background, skills and knowledge in a lot of industry sectors means I’m in a good hiring position – so treat me like talent. Not like another CV.
I’ve leave you with a little snippet of information…. both Accenture and Deloitte are predicting that over 30% of the UK’s workforce and over 50% of the US workforce will be freelancing by 2020. Contractors are here to stay and will most likely be contributing to the bottom line for many years’ to come.