What to do when the Contract Market ‘Tanks’

 It’s good to see the contract market creak back into motion in Scotland after a quiet period within the interim and contract project space. Since the news surrounding W&G was announced in August, the bank had huge amounts of contractors, some long-standing career contractors, recent contractors having joined from permanent roles a matter of weeks previous. Upon the announcement of the project being scrapped, a lucky few were able to retain their contracts but the majority were released from contract nearly simultaneously throughout August, with the resulting outcome meaning there were thousands of contractors on the day rate market at the same time, most of which looking for similar roles, within similar organisations, undertaking and delivering similar projects. Many people have now secured new contracts but many unfortunately have not. So, what should you consider doing should this happen again or if you’ve still not secured anything?

 

Engage your network

Seems obvious yes, but do you know to what end your network extends to? Speak to those you know that are in senior or managerial roles, people at a business level to keep their ear to the ground and put in a word for you, register with relevant agencies (if you hold a specific skillset will a recruiter send your CV out speculatively to the clients where your skillset may be in demand?), friends, neighbours anything. People generally like to help others if they can and pull together in times of crisis. Some of the best referrals I’ve ever had have come from completely unexpected referees.

 

Can you be geographically mobile for a new project?

 Can you consider a move away from home to wait until the market recovers? Can you commute Monday – Friday and come home for the weekend? This is one that many contractors I’d spoken with hadn’t considered previously, but was one of the most effective approaches for securing something quickly. A number of contractors across the central belt were of course looking towards Edinburgh and Glasgow, but when that was quiet were looking not only towards London, but the likes of Belfast, Dublin, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and more. Many contractors took three to six month contracts away from home to ride out the storm.

Consider amending your day rate for a specific project?

 Can you amend your day rate to work on a contract? Believe me, I understand the reticence in doing this when many have worked hard to increase their day rate, and it can be hard to recover particularly when many HR or resourcing teams request your current/last day rate, nonetheless the contract market is the same as any other in which it is driven by supply and demand. If you are unable to be geographically mobile this potentially might be worth consideration in the (hopefully!) short term.

 

Would you consider a move back to a permanent role?

 A permanent role? Did he just say that? Listen, I wouldn’t speak to contractors about permanent positions if I hadn’t previously placed career contractors back into a permanent role would I? The contract v permanent market is fairly cyclical (when one is busy the other tends to be quiet etc) Ask yourself if you’d consider moving back to a permanent position and if so what would it take? (NB. If you are considering doing this make sure you have a well prepared answer for interview as to why you want to move from contract back to perm. Clients are often a bit apprehensive about getting their fingers burnt and contractors reneging on perm offers to go to a further contract) The time may be right for you.

 

Remain persistent

 You need to keep going. It can be extremely hard to keep looking and it does take its toll but it’s essential to securing something. Systematically utilise all the resources you have to hand on a daily basis, your network, job and career portals, agencies and social media. I’m not going to pretend it’s fun but it is important to securing your next appointment.

 

If you’ve got any views/ opinions on the above I’d love to hear from you and if anyone has any further advice that could potentially assist others, please comment! If you need to contact me directly on this or anything else I can be reached on Gordon.willmott@merakitalent.com or            +44 (0)131 297 2703.