The UK is now firmly established as a tech powerhouse, leading to a rise in demand for tech and IT talent with more open roles than there are professionals to fill them.
Our research on the future of work revealed that four out of five hiring managers now find it more challenging to source qualified professionals than they did five years ago. The rising emphasis on digitisation means that companies across all sectors are heavily focused on growing their technology talent pool. SMEs are particularly feeling the strain, as top talent in the tech space often opts to work for larger companies.
Related: Download our report on Recruiting for the future: The challenges of UK SMEs
What’s concerning for many businesses is that the situation risks getting worse before it gets better. More than half of respondents in a Tech Nation survey highlighted that many companies fear the skills shortage will be exacerbated post Brexit. With vacancies for digital roles outstripping the number of available candidates, organisations are increasingly looking to access talent from outside the UK. If the ability to access international talent becomes harder then it could drive salaries even higher and make the shortage of skills even more pronounced.
As businesses have to adapt to the new realities of the labour market when looking for technology and digital talent, for many, the answer seems to lie in recruiting IT contractors from the temporary and contract hiring market.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 4.928 million self-employed people in the UK — 126,000 more than there were in July 2018. Contract professionals makeup 15% of all people in employment in the UK and therefore offer businesses a rich pool of specialist talent.
The recruitment experts at Robert Half are seeing a rise in requests for contract professionals and temporary staff as part of a flexible recruitment strategy. Here are some of the tactics they recommend using to attract top IT contractors…
6 ways to attract top technology contractors
Against this backdrop, one question becomes increasingly important for IT leaders, what can organisations do to recruit tech talent that can form the backbone of digital transformation projects? Below Steve Sully, Associate Director for Robert Half Technology offers his solutions in attracting top technology talent:
1. Create an inviting challenge
An IT contractor is highly likely to be tempted by an opportunity which will test their skill set. When sourcing contractors, work with a recruiter to isolate the most challenging aspects of the project or the tasks at hand. Demonstrate how much value the contract could offer to an existing skill set and the new accolades a digital freelancer could claim by accepting the position.
2. Show that you’re open to external opinions
It’s not unusual for technology contractors to be constricted by policies and procedures related to risk, governance and compliance.
Bringing an IT contractor on board should be a sign that you want an external opinion regarding new and innovative ways to push technology boundaries, without immediately restricting due to risk. When sourcing contractors, extend the invitation for an open dialogue about risk and possibilities.
3. Be considerate with contract options
Contract employees within the IT space are in high demand and often receive multiple offers from potential employers. Before you make your offer, take real-time to consider how long you’ll need additional technical resources for.
Shorter length contracts don’t demonstrate a good commitment to contract employees or the project and can damage confidence in your offer. Similarly, be sure to have regular discussions about contract extensions with your digital freelancer before assuming they’ll be available — demand is usually high and new contracts might already be pipelined.
4. Ensure daily rates are competitive
Fixed-term salaries will rarely attract a skilled digital freelancer to your technology team. Contract professionals are looking for flexibility, recognition of their skills and a pay packet which reflects this. When budgeting for your IT contracting, ensure you’re familiar with what constitutes an attractive daily rate.
From April 2020, IR35 regulations will also have an impact on the expected pay rates of technology contractors. If assignments are determined as within IR35, companies will need to consider increasing their rates to attract skilled technology contractors.
5. Plan for smooth onboarding
To get the most value from your IT contractor, you should ensure that you have a thorough onboarding process in place, so they can hit the ground running.
Try to get your technology contractors into their roles as soon as possible (long delays can impact their earnings) and arrange to have someone for them to shadow or question.
Chat to your team beforehand and establish a clear definition between responsibilities and tasks for both contract employees and permanent employees. It’s also beneficial to provide opportunities for upskilling across both parties.
6. Reduce your time to hire
Because top IT contractors often have multiple offers and a pipeline of opportunities waiting for them, a fast and decisive hiring process is needed to secure your first-choice professional.
Try listing digital freelancer jobs with a temporary recruitment expert to speed things up. You can also try limiting the number of stakeholders involved in the hiring process and defining your offer, for quicker negotiations.
Technology contractors: helpful hiring resources
If you hope to begin sourcing contractors as part of a flexible recruitment strategy, there are several helpful resources already available to you. You can download the Robert Half Salary Guide to ensure that your benefits and rates are competitive enough to attract top quality technology contractors.
You can also use the Salary Guide to identify the skills and qualifications which are in-demand within the technology sector, so you can ensure your contract employees have cutting edge abilities.