Contract recruitment is a fast-paced world, and when timeframes are shorter and requirements need to be filled there-and-then, being second is not an option. 

It’s a great time to be in contract recruitment too. Cited recently as the most attractive career path by 85% of skilled graduates entering the jobs market, contract recruitment is a growing preference that already accounts for 91% of the recruitment industry’s £35.7bn turnover. 

Contract recruitment has never been more lucrative for agencies, with more than 2.2m people now freelancing, a 43% growth since 2008. The contract recruitment market is on the uprise with 61% of businesses now currently hiring staff on a temp contract.

With the contract recruitment market consistently growing, agencies who specialise in perm are looking to add this to their business offering. We’ve highlighted four things you need to know before expanding your portfolio.


Speed is vital

Recruitment moves quickly at the best of times but in the contract recruitment market, time really is the biggest killer for deals. Recruiters need to work with a sense of urgency as roles are filled far quicker in the interim world and the early bird catches the worm. To stay ahead of the game, contract recruiters need to be aware of vacancies prior to them being advertised. This means actively monitoring their networks and always asking who’s hiring, and what projects are gaining traction. It also relies on knowing which candidates meet the criteria and if they are readily available. To stay on top and not miss out, you need to have all the vital information ready:

  • What is their availability?
  • Do you have an up-to-date CV?
  • Do you have their references ready?
  • What is their pay rate?
  • How far are they prepared to commute? (know TFL like the back of your hand!)


Stay Ahead of the Curve

If you were put on the spot now and asked what sectors are growing the fastest at the moment, could you answer it?

“The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.”

Napoleon Hill, Author

To successfully recruit into the best roles, and to work with the most reputable companies, you need to know who is hiring, before they begin the process. Finding clients who hire contractors is predominantly the combination of market mapping (identifying which clients to target), CV stripping (gathering info from the contractor’s CV about their recent role(s), reference requests (speak to prospective clients about contractors they worked with) and talking to your network (know your clients’ business in detail).

How? Monitor your networks, reach out to businesses, follow the latest trends in your specialist industries. 

Next, don’t forget to regularly communicate your contractor network with your clients. Order network chronologically by available start date and segmented by skill set and pay rate. This will give the recipient actionable insights.

  1. Keep your clients updated (availability calendar)
  2. Get your references signed and sealed
  3. Always have a back-up contractor

It’s important to consistently network not only with clients, but candidates too. It sounds obvious, but when contract recruitment deals are measured in hours, not weeks, you need to be 100% on top of your network. Knowing who’s available and when will be the difference between doing the contract deal and missing out. Every client and candidate is an opportunity to glean the health of the market, do they know of managers hiring, what projects are hot, and are there other potential interested contractors they know?


Candidate Relationships are Key

Bearing in mind that time is of the essence in contract recruitment, it’s essential to have a pool of talented contractors who can meet client demand.

Lars Schmidt, the founder of AmplifyTalent, said: “The goal of your social channels is to build community, and you do that by providing value. Think about how you can provide value to your audience that’s going to get them more engaged.”

And he’s right. Build your audience, and your relationships, on your social media channels. Don’t just connect with candidates. Share valuable, insightful content that highlights you as a knowledgeable individual. Nurturing your contractors and keeping them happy is key to securing repeat business when they re-enter the market. They are also a lucrative source of market intelligence as contractors are your eyes and ears in the industry, and consequently the best way to ascertain where the next deal can be found. Recruiters should be following-up at the end of the first day of placement, the close of the first week, and then checking-in – including meeting in person – every few weeks to nurture the relationship.

Tip: Your social profiles represent not only you, but the business you work for. You must maintain a high level of professionalism in the way you conduct yourself online, as this will affect who will want to connect with you (so no Line of Duty spoilers).

It’s up to you to do the legwork and source them. Think outside of the box. The go-to place for recruiters to connect with candidates is LinkedIn, however, is it the best place? To gain access to the best of the best, be strategic so you don’t just become “another recruiter”. An important part of this is speaking to your current base of contractors for recommendations and referrals.

“Obviously, engaging and recruiting people are closer to you achieving your desired goals, but you can’t do that until you have found them in the first place. Sourcing and finding people is the most important. You can’t recruit, message, or network with someone you haven’t found.”

Glen Cathey, SVP Talent And Innovation at Kforce

Click here to discover Twitter feeds that will help you grow your pool of contractors.


A Different Approach to Candidate Acquisition

Companies often offer a broad range of fantastic perks for their employees, but there’s little point selling them as benefits to a contractor. There’s a strong chance they won’t be in the position long enough to get to enjoy them, and they may not be eligible to receive them anyway.

With more and more people choosing to freelance, you should sell on the elements of the role that will appeal to their needs: flexibility of the role, immediate perks they will benefit from, e.g. work culture, improved lifestyle and variety in their day-to-day life.

And, most importantly, you should focus on selling the role to them (know you’re not the only recruiter who’s in their network so be specific, if you can’t do something then just say so). Freelancers are going to be more interested in how the role will appeal to their interests and advance their skillset. So you must reflect this in the proposition and job spec.

The best candidates in contract recruitment are tucked away a little deeper in the nooks and crannies of the market, which is why recruiters need to be more resourceful in their candidate acquisition strategies.


For contract candidates there are more attractive incentives than salary and career packages, with flexibility and work culture having more weight and relocation being less of a barrier.

Long term plans and career development are not really a consideration for contract recruitment.


Contract Recruitment Combats Economic Downturn

Pay attention to the shifts and trends in the market because when a financial downturn or headcount freeze takes place, (such as covid-19) perm vacancies close their doors and contract goes into overdrive. A recruiter needs to ensure they are available in the right place at the right time for this, as changes in the contract market happen quickly and require a rapid response.


The resilience of recruitment throughout the pandemic is a result of the flexibility of contract recruitment. Whilst companies faced financial turmoil, contract recruitment enabled a seamless cash flow opportunity to stabilise business, and for some, continue to grow. With 

61% of businesses currently hiring staff on a temp contract, and 57% of businesses with temp staff stating it would have been difficult to source them without the help of an agency.

The contract recruitment business has grown 33% since last year, as businesses are choosing to hire temps amidst the uncertainty. There are still roles to be filled, and still people ready to fill them.

Today, more than three-quarters of the recruitment industry consists of contract recruitment and in the new wave of working, contract recruitment is projected to grow 3x faster than the traditional workforce.

Click here to read about the growth of the UK recruitment industry.

Obviously there is more to think about if you’re considering adding contract recruitment to your business. As the UK’s number one provider of contract recruitment finance and back office technology, we can help you get set up.

Need to know more? Download our guide on everything you could possibly need to know about contract recruitment. 


This article was originally published on 27th July 2017 and updated 30th September 2021