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Recruiting contractors when candidates are scarce

In most sectors, the UK contracting market has been in a “candidate led” condition for some time now, and most recruitment agencies are familiar with pressure to attract and retain high quality talent. In this article we’ll look at how you can navigate this kind of market, sign up the best contractors and keep them working for you.

Concentrate on excellent execution

Optimising your online channels, streamlining your interview process, keeping candidates updated, writing appealing job ads etc are all more important when there’s high demand for candidates. Consistently getting the basics right is your launching point for everything else, and your larger strategy is more likely to succeed if you have these things nailed on.

Promote flexibility

In recent years workers have changed their expectations of what their working life will look like. Home, hybrid and flexible working are important ideas that remove barriers to work and help to maximise your pool of candidates. Candidates’ preferences will vary with their working style and circumstances, so the important thing is to offer flexibility and choice.

Working with your clients to help them to be as flexible as possible in terms of where and when contractors work will go a long way to helping you recruit the best people for them.

Help your clients get IR35 status right

It’s usually easier to fill “outside IR35” roles, because many “in demand” contractors prefer to work through their own limited company, outside IR35. There are a number of reasons for this, the most pressing being that they can take home more money from the same contract rate.

It’s important to ensure the role really is outside IR35, because if it isn’t there’s a risk to you and your clients. Working with your clients to help them assess IR35 correctly, including referring them to compliance experts who can assess their needs and processes, will help them control the risk and the cost of hiring contractors, while making it easier for you to source contractors with the skills they need.

Prioritise the candidate’s experience

Your candidates’ experience, both of contracting and of working with your recruitment agency, will directly affect how easy it is for you to source key skills in the future. They’ll talk to friends and colleagues in their sector, which is likely to be your sector too, and they’ll either recommend or rubbish you depending on how things went.

Specifically looking at what it’s like for contractors to work with your agency, from the point of contact and throughout the relationship, will allow you to smooth out any issues and tackle common “pain points”. This in turn gives you the best chance that your current and former contractors will help you out as they talk about their experience.

Get help from your partners

The choice of umbrella company or accountant can have a huge impact on your contractors’ experience of contracting, and as we said earlier this can have a significant effect on your success in recruiting contractors. Choosing umbrella partners and recommending accountants who will add value while reliably getting the basics right will obviously help your efforts. Working closely with your partners, with that all-important contractor experience in mind, will magnify this effect.

If you have questions of if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468483 or email

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