The UK Recruitment industry saw a total revenue of £32.2 billion in 2017. The vast majority of this was achieved through the temporary and contract market. It contributed to 87.6% of that figure (£28.2 billion), compared to the 12.4% (£4 billion) generated through permanent placements.

So, now is the perfect time for your recruitment business to enter the contract market.

Here are three steps to take to make your move.


1. Prepare your recruitment business for the contract market

To launch the contract recruitment part of your business, you need to be prepared.

The saying “time kills deals” rings very true in contract recruitment. To succeed in this competitive world, you need to stay on top and remain aware of what is going on around you at all times. You also need to make sure you have all the necessary knowledge to hand, so you can be the first to suggest the right candidates to fill a role.

You need to stay ahead of the curve. By this we mean, you need to know who is recruiting before the recruitment process even starts. Don’t wait for a company to reach out to you. You should be the one to make contact first. It shows initiative and you’ll beat your competition to it.

Make sure you have solid relationships with all your candidates. Without them, your business will fall at the first hurdle. So, before you get started, it’s important to have a candidate-management strategy in place with your team.

This is just a quick overview. You can read more about what you need to know before expanding into contract recruitment.


2. Gauge supply and demand and time your move carefully

I know we have just said that now is the perfect time to join the contract market, but it’s not simply a case of saying: “Right, from today we will offer contract recruitment.”

You need to do your research and work out the best time to launch this branch of your agency. And it’s important to take your time, so you get it right quicker.

So, with this in mind, you should consider the following:

  • Have your current clients asked for any contractors already?
  • How popular is the contract market within the sectors you currently work with?
  • Who are your main competitors, within your specialist sectors?
  • What knowledge do you, and your team, already have in place about working with contractors?

You may find that now is not the right time for your business to start offering contract recruitment. But, in the meantime, you can prepare for when it is. As well as doing your research, this could be:

  • Recruiting people with contract recruitment experience
  • Attending contract market specific events
  • Implementing training with your existing staff
  • Registering to receive information about the contract market
  • Start looking for candidates that have an interest in contract recruitment


3. Determine what type of candidates you’re placing

Depending on the sectors you currently work in, the type of candidate you can expect to place will differ.

Your focus could be on any of the following:

  • High end contractors who know all the latest skills
  • Niche skill contractors
  • Standard contractors who cover for perm positions
  • Low end contractors who do the tasks the perm employees don’t want to do

Understanding your candidate demographic is key to successfully launching the contract branch of your recruitment business.

Regardless of the kind of candidate you will work with, you need to know where to find them, how to interact with them and how to sell them to your clients.

Look for job ads online that are similar to what you will be placing and see what skills, requirements, experience and language is used to attract potential candidates. This will give you a good idea of how you need to communicate.

Speak with any perm candidates you have who have also worked in contract roles, to get an understanding of what they expect from a recruiter in the contract market.

Start building up a pool of great candidates before you join the contract market. This way, when you do, you can hit the ground running as you’ll already have suitable candidates in mind for the first role you need to fill.

Recruitment as an industry is fast-paced and always evolving. In 2017 alone, Companies House recorded the launch of 5,824 new recruitment businesses, which was a 20% increase on the previous year. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to make sure your recruitment agency is taking advantage of every opportunity the UK economy has to offer. And with almost 5 million people choosing to work as freelancers, the contract market is an opportunity you simply have to take.