If you’re an employer looking for technology professionals, you’ll know how tricky the recruitment market is right now. 

In addition to a longstanding skills gap in the UK workforce, recent events like the pandemic and Brexit have shrunk the talent pool. Meanwhile, demand for technology skillsets is only rising, as more and more businesses develop sophisticated digital offerings, modernise their infrastructure, and aim to secure their businesses against cyberattacks. 

So how can companies supply this demand, with so few qualified candidates available? 

One highly impactful strategy is to use technology contractors. Here, we’ll be explaining just why this approach works so well, and just what the key success factors are. 

Why hire tech contractors over permanent staff? 

There are many reasons why employers are increasingly turning to contractors to fill gaps in their transformation teams. Here are a few of the top ones:

1. Beat the talent shortage 

First and foremost, the skills shortage which is impacting almost all sectors of the UK economy is especially acute in the technology space. This is making it tough to hire permanent technology professionals within the required timeframes, delaying projects and causing internal problems with teams. If you hire contractors, you’ll find it much easier to fill those gaps in your workstreams and keep your project timelines on track.

2. Hire from a better talent pool

Another huge benefit of hiring tech contractors is the quality of the talent pool. Contractors are often experts in their fields, with track records of doing the high-quality work necessary to build a reputation and a network. They will also be accustomed to coming into unfamiliar environments and having an immediate impact, requiring less ‘bedding-in’ time than a permanent employee might. For this reason, contractors often actually provide a cost-saving despite the investment required. 

3. Reduce competition

The permanent hiring market for technology roles is also extremely competitive due to high demand for tech skills. Candidates have their pick of roles and have become far more selective when evaluating opportunities following Brexit and the pandemic, valuing stability more than ever - especially now that the UK economic outlook is uncertain. They will also likely have multiple offers on the table, as well plenty of time for counter offers during the 1-3 month notice period. 

Justine Paech, Operating Director at Michael Page Technology commented: 

I recently placed a permanent candidate who mentioned that they had received over 30 separate job offers – without even having applied for a role or submitted his CV.

By hiring a contractor, employers can access a less competitive talent pool and also reduce the risk of ending up out of pocket by losing recently acquired talent. A contractor is paid for work done, while a permanent worker will require larger amounts of investment and could always be poached by competitors before project completion. 

4. Gain efficiency and flexibility

Along similar lines, a contractor offers a huge level of flexibility to the employer. If you only need new talent for a particular transformation project or product roll out, you may not want to retain a permanent employee with the relevant skillsets long term. This is where contractors come into their own as a recruitment option: you can match your staffing levels to the fluctuations of your needs.

Plus, contractors are usually much easier to find at short notice. This added time efficiency can make all the difference when working to tight deadlines.  

Renee Delaney, Associate Director at Michael Page Technology, said:

We recently worked with a UK retailer who were building a new D2C e-Commerce platform. By sourcing a seasoned interim change director who could kickstart their transformation journey immediately, we saved the client valuable time, and enabled them to create a new revenue stream much faster.

Michael Page Technology’s approach to finding top contractors

At Michael Page Technology we have seen that, when launching new projects, resourcing can be a disruptive factor. We have also seen that strategic use of contractors can make all the difference in ensuring that things run smoothly, and even achieving cost-savings. 

However, finding these individuals is challenge for organisations without the support of an expert partner, and a well thought through Employee Value Proposition. On this point, Justine said: 

While the contractor market is less competitive than the permanent market, it’s still essential that companies do everything they can to stand out to candidates. This is something we work closely with our clients to achieve.

For insights into the workplace satisfaction of UK tech professionals, check out the results of our latest survey. 

We’ve helped an ever-growing number of clients to hire contractors for their transformation in recent years. Here are a few things that allow us to source top tier candidates for the employers we work with:

A focus on talent hubs. Our expert consultants don’t just supply employers with UK contractors. Instead, we take advantage of the compatibility of many tech roles with remote working to access a truly global talent pool. To optimise this approach, we have established hubs in locations around the world from which we source the best contractors for our clients. 

Expertise and resource. While we source candidates for both permanent and contract technology roles, we have created a dedicated team of consultants for the latter. This has provided us with dozens of experts, each with a personal network of high-calibre contractors. 

Even in a market which defined by candidate scarcity, our specificity and resources allow us to quickly pull together high-quality candidate short-lists, as well as handle time-consuming administrative elements of the process like payroll management. Our internal team can service PAYE, Umbrella, and LTD contractors, and can handle payroll as soon as they are compliant on our system. 

Specialist IR35 guidance. At Michael Page Technology, we provide clients with access to a third-party IR35 consultancy, thereby helping them to understand and mitigate IR35-related risk. We also offer a complimentary indicative IR35 assessment through our partner.

Accessing diversity and hidden talent pools. We recognise that there are many technology experts from underrepresented groups who employers may be missing. We also know that many employers are keen to create more diverse technology and transformation teams, but are unsure of where to start. 

That’s why our diversity and inclusion consultancy team offers specialist support to clients seeking diverse candidates. Our internal technology leadership board is 50% female, giving us true insight into underrepresented talent pools. 

Get in touch

Michael Page Technology has developed a global database of expert contractors, enabling us to fill roles within days, rather than weeks or even months. Our partners include leading SMEs, corporates, and specialist consultancies, and we source talent across a range of different verticals and sectors.

If you need or are considering hiring a contractor, please get in touch today.

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