For Contract Procurement Jobs: Prescreening is Everything
Because Contract work has been really building up a head of steam in Supply Chain Management in the last 24 to 48 months – running neck and neck with Direct Hire — we’ve been doing a lot of listening lately to the particular employers who are wanting to take advantage of the benefits of contract/contingent workers for their Procurement and Supply Chain functions. One concern that comes to the forefront is that contractors may be more likely to “drop off” after a certain period of time—that is, prior to the completion of their initial contract obligation. There’s a perception that they might be more of a liability than their Permanent counterparts. In a recent panel meeting/presentation with a senior Supply Chain executive (at a Global Manufacturing company with sites in at least ten locations), our Senior Partner fielded this very question. This company is seriously looking at Contingent Staffing to augment a substantial part of their growth and project-related work in Supply Chain Management. So his question was very pointed. He wanted to know: “what’s your fall-off rate for contractors?”
We answered honestly: Our fall-off rate is minimal. We very rarely have contractors who leave in the middle of their contracts (except for extenuating life circumstance beyond everyone’s control). And why? Because, as we carefully explained in the meeting, a true Workforce Management Expert does all the due diligence UPFRONT. There is a lot to know about the extensive vetting process involved in properly matching and Onboarding a candidate in the SCM specialty. It’s way more than just “putting a b – u – m on a seat and trusting to luck”. We put our candidates through a lot so that they understand the commitment involved in contingent work, the upsides and the downsides of contracting. We really do what we can to get inside their heads so we understand their motivations and true intentions before we forward them for consideration for a contract position with one of our clients.
There’s a reasonable but incorrect assumption that underlies this particular executive’s question: and that is that people only take contract opportunities because they’re really waiting for full-time employment to come along. Traditionally, that might well be true, but people’s thinking about contract is changing as it did with IT & Engineering some 20 years ago.
There’s still a perception that workers won’t take their commitments as seriously for contract as they would in permanent employment. That might be how things used to be, when contract work was seen as a stopgap until permanent employment. But not anymore. There’s a very fast growing segment of contractors who see Contingent work as a legitimate lifestyle alternative. Whether they’re more senior workers who would rather have clients than bosses, or sole contributors who are looking to jumpstart their careers faster by getting diverse category experience sooner than they would otherwise, or people looking to increase their income through the tax benefits of self-incorporation, individuals are treating contract work SERIOUSLY as a more long-term plan. They are having many more “A-HA” moments about it than they did in the past.
So why shouldn’t employers have to worry about a “contractor drop-off rate”?
Because as recruitment partners, it’s our job to do all the preliminary legwork, the lengthy and thorough prescreen of our candidates, to determine their expectations, as well as our expectation of their commitment to us and our clients. It’s the only way to measure a candidate’s priorities and determine if those priorities are aligned with those of our clients. This pre-screen interview is somewhat more complicated than the traditional “experience, salary, location,” pre-screen for a permanent hire. Here’s what we ascertain from our candidates during a pre-screen before we submit them for a contract role:
1. Why are you or why would you consider contract work? We want to assess: Is it for the lifestyle benefits? Is it for the tax advantages? Is it to diversify experience? Is it because they want to get the opportunity at a great company?
2. What’s your current employment situation? This is immensely important in terms of establishing a candidate’s priorities and whether they have the right level of commitment to go into a contract role.
– Are you employed in a permanent, full-time role? If so, there’s a lot of understanding that needs to happen. Why would you leave such a job? There needs to be a good reason. What’s your take-home pay? Are you aware of the advantages of incorporation and sole proprietorship? If you’re a permanent employee considering a contract role, we need to assess whether you have the “contract mindset.”
– Are you a contractor already? Great – we know that you’re already in the right mindset and you understand the expectations. When is your current commitment ending, and does the timing line up?
– Are you unemployed? An unemployed worker is more likely to take a contract position even if they’re not in the “contract mindset,” because they’re often just looking to get to work. They’re great people to slot into contract roles, but we have to be extra, extra careful to establish expectations and commitment extremely thoroughly. And we want to be sure that they won’t be a flight risk should an interesting permanent role come their way.
3. Are you incorporated? Are you a sole proprietor? Incorporated individuals and sole proprietors have paid to set themselves up in advantageous tax situations for when they’re working contract jobs. This is something of a sign that they’re committed to being a contractor, and take it seriously.
4. Are you in fact just looking for a position while you wait for perm? Even though the world of contract work is rapidly changing, there are still people who’re open to contract positions because they’re looking for a short term commitment while they search for something more permanent. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But we make sure that candidates know the commitment they’re making by taking a contract position. We ensure the candidate understands that both ourselves and our clients take these jobs just as seriously as we do a permanent hire.
In short, the bottom line is all about the commitment. We won’t move forward with a candidate without knowing that they’re committed to a job beyond the shadow of a doubt. And the time we take to do our due diligence upfront pays off in spades – that’s what sets us apart from recruiters who don’t specialize in high-skilled contingent staffing. You should really find out what it’s like to experience the difference.
It’s definitely a NEW PERMANENT workforce @work! Call me to discuss how we can help you or your company with your Contingent Staffing Needs or if you are interested in exploring Contract opportunities.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 416-364-9919.
My electronic business card is bronwenhann.com – bookmark it, please
Over and Out for now