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What’s Your Candidate Doing Next? – Contractor Retention for Recruiters

If you’re a recruitment consultant and you engage contractors, you will be used to your candidates moving on. Temporary contracts are the defining characteristic of contracting; projects get completed, contracts end, and everyone moves on to something else. In this article we’ll look at what happens after that first contract ends, and why that carefully built relationship doesn’t have to be over.

Why contractors are important to recruiters

While permanent hires may pay more on a one-off basis, you get paid for your contractors every time they work. This means placing contractors can add much-needed stability to a recruiter’s monthly billing, which can help you demonstrate consistently high performance.

From our experience of working with contractors we know that they’ll often work for longer, take less time off and generate fewer queries if they feel valued and well treated, which means you’ll make more money with less work if you cultivate strong, trusting relationships with your contractors.

It therefore makes sense to keep your contractors working with you for as long as possible, and that means arranging things so they can and will stay with you after the end of their current contract.

What is your candidate doing next?

The need to source new contracting work is an ever-present part of the contracting life, and most career contractors will have developed a process to minimise unwanted downtime between contracts. As the end of their current contract approaches, they will begin this process by feeling out their contacts and letting their network know when they’ll be available. At this point it’s well worth speaking to them about their plans, particularly if you think the client may want to extend, or you have another assignment they might be interested in.

How recruiters can work for retention

Contractor retention is all about giving your contractors a positive experience of contracting with you. Even more than conventional employees, contractors have a choice about where they work and they won’t always “follow the money”. Anything that helps things run smoothly is good for your contractors and your clients, and will therefore be good for you.

In terms of actions you can take, listen to your contractors and work to solve their problems. Maybe there’s a parking issue you can resolve by speaking to your client. Maybe there’s a bank holiday coming up and your contractors have questions about holiday pay. Something as simple as choosing the right umbrella partner could smooth out common payment issues and get them access to useful benefits. Stay focused on the contractor’s experience and they’re far more likely to stay with you when they have the choice.

When your contractors go elsewhere

Even when your contractors accept an assignment with another recruiter, or if you don’t have anything suitable to offer them as their contract ends, it’s still worth protecting the relationship.  Supporting your contractors as they move on is a great way to generate good will, and to ensure they think of you as their next contract approaches its end. You might also find that they recommend you to their colleagues and contacts, which obviously makes your job easier, particularly if you specialise in their sector.

If you have questions or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email

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