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. As UK wages accelerated to their fastest pace since 2008 (up by 3.3% for the three months to October 2018), the value of a contract placement increased by 20%.

We’ve broken down how to do more contract recruitment deals into three sections; building your network, pulling jobs from clients and doing the deal.


1: Building your contract network

To take your business/desk to the next level, your number one priority should be the contractor.

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 difference between doing the contract deal and missing out.

Three things you need to do

  1. Speak to people. Again, obvious, but relying on job adverts to provide a stream of contractors looking for their next role is optimistic.Speaking directly with a handful of contractors who meet your current needs, will provide a lot more insight into who’s available and who’s hiring. Sourcing these calls can come from cv, linkedIn and database searches.
  2. Be specific. Contractors are busy people with job opportunities being pitched to them from a variety of sources. You know you’re not the only recruiter who’s in their network so be specific with what you want to get out of the relationship and what you can offer. If you can’t do something, say so. Contractors, as much as recruiters, hate their time being wasted, so be mindful.
  3. Retain regular contact. As contractors move from role to role, they possess massive amounts of knowledge about what’s happening in the market. To keep up with what’s going on, speak to your network.


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2: Pulling contract jobs

If your current clients are not active in the contract recruitment market, finding clients who hire contractors is predominantly the combination of market mapping, CV stripping, reference requests and talking to your network.

Market mapping

Marketing mapping is the process of identifying which clients to target. Using a combination of firmographic and topical data you can build a picture of who’s likely to be using contract workforce. From here you can layer on information by creating organisational charts and information from candidate CVs about previous roles.

Data points to map:

  • How big is the business? How many employees? (this helps you understand if they have enough demand for contract workforce)
  • Are they going through a transition? Are the embarking on / running big projects that is public knowledge?
  • Are they merging or acquiring new businesses? (businesses objectives are broadly to increase profit or cut cost. If a buyout is taking place, does the business want to reduce its perm headcount to reduce fixed costs?)
  • Do they have enough requirements to generate demand for contractors? Either implementations, upgrades, project rollouts.
  • Are they likely to be impacted greatly by market forces or are a target for crime? E.g. banking industry and cybersecurity – the reputational, business and personal cost of being hacked is too great to ignore. As a lot of the banking infrastructure is built on legacy tech it’s highly likely that they are engaging with technical experts to help transition and reinforce their system infrastructure.
  • Is the business embarking on big CSR projects? If so, it’s likely they will have to bring in outside experience.

CV Stripping

CV stripping sounds like a black-hat technique but in reality it’s just gathering information from the contractor’s CV about their recent contract role(s). Focus on finding:

  • Where did the contractor work previously?
  • Who ran that project?

By gathering this information, you will have a list of companies who recruit contractors and contacts who are involved in the contract recruitment hiring process.

Reference requests

  • Speak to prospective clients about contractors they worked with. Don’t use the call to sell your service, that’s not the objective. The objective is to find out a) what the referee thought of the contractor’s work and b) to recommend other contractors they rate.
  • Make contact with rated contractors and request their CV.
  • You can then repeat the process.
  • By doing this, you are building a network of contractors AND are familiarising your name with potential clients in a non-sales way.

Talking to your clients

Know your client’s business in detail.

Do you know:

  • Who are the heads of departments?
  • All of the products/services they sell? (This may seem obvious but how many of your clients know the full scope of what your business offers?)
  • Where these products/services are offered?
  • If you’re an IT recruiter – knowing what their tech stack is should be a priority.
  • The interdepartmental relationships: Who is the decision maker? Who do they report to? Who makes decisions if they are unavailable?
  • Gather information related to future projects / objectives / desired expansion.
  • Draft an organisational chart. Don’t wait for a company to tell you if or when they need someone. Be proactive so you can be in a more informed position to provide talent options.


3: Doing contract recruitment deals

When it comes to the crunch of doing the deal, you need to make sure you’re balanced perfectly between being proactive and reactive. If you speak to a prospect or client who has a project starting, you can sell in contractors there and then if you know their availability and have up to date CVs with full references.

Alternatively, if you’re pitching contractors to your clients and prospects, you need to know pay rates and when they can start.

Additionally, if recruiting in London or a major city know how far contractors are door-to-door from the client. Commuting is a big consideration for any jobseeker so make sure you match all requirements.

Finally, regularly communicate you 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


Looking for more ideas? Check out our ebook below which shares tried and tested advice on how to grow your contract recruitment billings.

This article was originally published on 19 September 2018 and updated 11 June 2019