Top tips for hiring an IT contractor

In-House Recruiting
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The need for contract work is on the rise, but hiring a contractor can be a different process compared to hiring a full-time employee.

A recent report, The Open Economy by Samsung, suggests that thanks to technology a new breed of ultra-flexible contractors will prosper. In fact, it’s claimed that 40% of workers will be self-employed by 2020. But with technology giving rise to the era of a contractor and freelancer economy, how can you ensure that your business is hiring the best out there? This blog will look to give top tips on how to hire a freelancer.

What do I need from a contractor?

Gone are the days of contractors being equated to substitute teachers, wheeled in to make sure that the lights remain on. Hiring contractors today can, and should, be viewed of huge value to a business. This is especially true of IT contractors, who often hold very specialist skill sets that need to be brought into a business on a temporary basis.

The Harvard Business Review recently called this phenomenon ‘the rise of the supertemp’ – where the best and brightest hold contractor positions and choose to work independently. As a recruiter, it’s time to think of what a contractor can bring into a business in order to make a difference and solve a particular challenge. Conversely, you have the flexibility to end the contract when the demand for those skills has disappeared.

Top tips for hiring an IT contractor

Image: Adobe Stock Library

Is a personal recommendation always better when hiring an IT contractor?

In the recruitment industry, we know that is always preferable to have a recommendation from a trusted colleague or contact. When it comes to hiring an IT contractor, this is no different. While it is always worth putting a call out via your usual channels, this can also be hugely time consuming – especially when looking for a very particular skill set at short notice.

Therefore, using an agency or jobs boards can be preferable. It is important to make sure that you have a thorough job specification, and you provide a thorough brief for the sort of candidate that you are looking for.

Should I meet them face-to-face?

Once you’ve checked out a contractor’s credentials, it is always a good idea to meet them face to face to get a more accurate idea of their personality and why they want this contract. In too many cases, recruiters take less time and effort when it comes to hiring a contractor than they would a full-time employee, leading to the relationship breaking down.

Contractors will be prepared to talk you through their skills and experience, so don’t be afraid to challenge them on this if you see any discrepancies. The best contractor relationships are ones where their personality is a good fit. Meeting face to face and investing this time up-front will lead to a more successful contract down the line.

Top tips for hiring an IT contractor

Image: Adobe Stock Library

What should I look for in a contractor’s CV?

As a recruiter, you will have seen your fair share of CVs but it’s worth putting on a different cap when picking up one from an IT contractor. It will quite rightly look very different to the ones you are used to seeing. So, what can you expect? Well, often they are much shorter than permanent position CVs, as the contractor knows that there will be lots of applicants and the person hiring will very quickly scan it for the skills needed in the business.

You don’t want to hire someone who will be able to ‘develop’ into the role with training or experience either: you need skills and you need them now. Also don’t be surprised that a contractor’s list of positions is quite long, it’s not a sign that they can’t settle to any role – it’s the very nature of being a contractor.

How involved should they be with the rest of the team?

The jury is out on this one. Some recruiters believe you will get more out of a contractor if you fully immerse them with the team – for example, involving them in wider company meetings and team activities. However, others see hiring a contractor as a straightforward business transaction or simply, paying for a service where you expect to see returns.

If you have not hired a contractor before, you will be able to get a feel for it once they are in the position. Often you can take the lead from the contractor themselves – they may decide how involved they want to be in order to get the job done. Keep an eye on results, and the rest will work itself out.

Hiring contractors to fill specific skill set quotas in a business is set to become a bigger part of everyday business, as the industry continually searches for candidates despite a skills shortage. For recruiters, this will require new skills in themselves and changing mindset when it comes to hiring contractors. The sooner they can do this, the sooner the business can get its hands on the skills that are really needed.

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