I was recently chatting to a Tech Lead whom I’ve known for nearly 10 years and worked with as both candidate and client.
He was bemoaning the challenge of hiring a senior TypeScript engineer for a UI re-write he and his team were in the middle of.
“Nick, I wish I could just get in someone sh*t hot, who knew what they were doing, and I could trust to get on with it. They look great on paper, but they can’t hit the ground running when we get down to it.”
The old expectation versus reality – technical interviews to the job, Amazon princess dresses to real life, Mrs Richard’s expectations of a Torquay hotel room – you get the gist.
And don’t worry, for those who don’t get that last one, here's a link to said Fawlty Towers hilarity.
In short, he was frustrated that even in this candidate-heavy market, a lot of people he liked would still need longer than he had to get up to speed.
Before you point out the bleeding obvious, no, he’s not able to engage in outside help, so the wonderful people of Client Server are not at his disposal.
He has a fast-approaching deadline, a to-do list as long as his arm, and a worry that the end of the financial year might mean he loses the headcount altogether.
That last point is one well-known to us Recruiters, and yes, the bulk of the time is to get us off the phone. But we can all agree there is some logic to budgets being agreed upon and/or spent by May.
Either way, the hiring manager in question was focusing solely on permanent candidates. Those he felt most bought into his vision, most compelled by the team’s technical challenge, and most committed to ensuring they delivered.
All perhaps true, but probably not top of the priority list right now Mr Client, right?
What he hadn’t considered was a contractor.
In my experience suggesting a contract hire can be received with some frostiness.
“Oh, we don’t hire contractors,” they say, “we’re not that kind of place.”
Not the exclusive response of course, but if you’ve got this far, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and I often wonder why it’s not worth exploring.
I understand it’s a more transactional relationship, money for experience, and experience alone.
But for those with deadlines, an obvious need for specific expertise, and a ticking clock on budgets, it seems a clear choice.
Sidebar – everything I’m saying here is predicated by the fact that any contractor you consider must be able to “hit the ground running” as required – but they charge top dollar for their experience.
Yes, they’ll be expensive, but they’ll be good.
And if you think that day rate is expensive, imagine how much it might ‘cost’ to miss the deadline, lose the budget, or have a team that stagnates without that expertise.
I get it. A recruiter would say all this, and yes, you’re right, contract hiring isn’t for everyone.
It doesn’t work in every market or sector either, but in technology, I’ve seen it, I’ve had the chats, and it may be the only option.
I can’t help but feel it’s under-used, even more so in the current economic climate. Longer-term hiring budgets are tight, but no one’s targets are less ambitious, nor are their deadlines being pushed back.
No one wants a money-hungry lone wolf who only thinks of themselves and works in the same way.
But someone who can be trusted to do the thing well, do it straight away, and do it without handholding, I think we can all agree that sounds pretty good.
Again – not for everyone – but with a good contractor, that’s exactly what you get.