How to hire the best contractors


Hiring a contractor can be a great way to give your business a short-term boost, but how can you be sure you’re getting the best talent? We asked two of our experts for their top tips…

Whether you’re looking for a short-term fix or simply exploring different recruitment options, hiring a contractor can be a great option for your business.

But filling contractor roles requires a different approach to permanent positions, which is why we’ve asked two of our experts for their tips on hiring the best contractors.

Move quickly

“Speed is key when it comes to hiring contractors,” says Mark Hetherington, accounting and finance manager at Robert Walters Australia. As he explains, companies typically go through multiple stages when hiring for permanent roles, to ensure they offer them to the right candidate, but for contractor roles it’s essential companies move fast – and have the correct internal processes set up to allow them to do so.

“The process of hiring a contractor can be as short as 24 hours or even less, so it’s essential that decisions can be, and are, made quickly,” Mark warns. “Good quality contractors are likely to be involved in multiple opportunities at any given time, so be prepared to make fast decisions to ensure that you don’t miss out.”

Craft the perfect job description

“Attracting the best talent always starts with crafting the right job description and for contractors it should focus on the five main tasks and responsibilities they’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis,” recommends Phill Westcott, director at Walters People UK. Contractors will need to jump straight into the work, he notes, so highlighting these key tasks will ensure they can prepare to make an impact from day one.

“It might sound obvious, but you should also clearly state it’s a contractor position to avoid any confusion,” he adds. “Also include the length of the contract. If you aren’t sure of the timeframe, give a minimum and maximum and communicate with candidates as the scope develops.”

Offer the correct salary

“Offering the right salary is obviously essential to any role, but before even starting the recruitment process be aware a contractor assignment salary will be inflated when compared to an equivalent permanent role,” warns Mark. He explains the scale of this inflation will vary between locations and industry – and could be anywhere from 5% to 30% – so advises companies to do their homework first into the local contractor salary climate before making any decisions.

“This extra financial outlay makes it essential to have internal discussions surrounding budgets before moving into the contractor marketplace or connecting with a recruitment agency,” Mark suggests. “That way you’ll be able to manage your expectations accordingly.” 

Search out the necessary soft skills

“When you’re hiring a contractor, it’s highly likely you’ll need someone who can hit the ground running, so it’s essential you employ the candidate with the right soft skills to do just that,” Mark points out. Unlike technical abilities, which are likely to shine through in a candidate’s CV and work experience, an applicants’ soft skills can be difficult to assess – but it’s imperative that hiring managers are clear on which soft skills are critical for the role before recruiting a contractor.

“Successful contractors will need to be able to interact with others and build relationships quickly in order to gain quickfire success in the workplace,” he adds. “This means strong skills in engagement and proactiveness are essential, as are the abilities to problem solve and adapt easily to new working environments.”

Ask the right interview questions

“An interview gives you the chance to assess a candidate’s motivation and really dive deep into the reasons behind why they’re looking for a temporary role – so take advantage of this,” advises Phill. These positions require adaptability to new environments and a commitment to the length of the contract, he notes, so hiring managers need to ask the questions that’ll get these answers.

“A good way to really put the candidate’s intentions under the spotlight is to ask them how they would react if they received an offer for a permanent role a week into their contract,” Phill suggests. “That way you’ll know if a candidate is committed.”

Add some perks to your offer

“When attracting contractor talent, many companies will focus solely on financial compensation, but this can be a mistake. As well as the salary, the best contractors are drawn to those companies who offer that little bit extra and make them feel part of the team,” says Phill. Treating contractors equally within the company can have a big impact on the success of their work, so ensure you offer them some of the same opportunities as permanent employees, he suggests, such as training and education or even free lunches.

“It’s currently a sellers’ market, so the best contractors often have their pick of opportunities,” he claims, adding, “companies are under increasing pressure to ensure their offers are attractive to contractors otherwise they risk losing out.”

Use a recruitment agency

“In order to connect with the best contractor talent, you’ll need to engage with a recruitment agency you can trust,” suggests Mark. As he observes, the best talent registers with recruitment agencies to ensure they find the right roles, while companies use agencies as they know candidates will be vetted and referenced, taking the onus and associated time pressures off themselves.

Looking to hire contractors for your business? Contact one of our expert local teams for more information.