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The Benefits of Working and Hiring Contract-to-Perm

Article by Andrew Sleptiza, Division Manager San Francisco.

There seems to be a lack of candidates and hiring managers these days looking to go contract-to-perm, and as recruiters we sit here and wonder WHY? A contract to perm position is where employers would like to bring on a full-time employee but don’t want to commit to a permanent hire right up front. In most cases, a contract-to-perm employee will work on a specific project for a few months in hope that their role will be converted into full-time. 

For an employee, working a contract-to-perm job benefits you in three ways: resume, money, and the job itself.

Resume

Enterprise companies are constantly looking for contractors to work on their various projects. Names like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple don’t look too bad on a resume, now do they? Not only that, but because the contract phase of the job only lasts three to four months, if you aren’t onboarded, having the option to leave can open up the opportunity to work for larger companies.

Money

Another reason why we stress contract-to-perm is because what could be better than making money while actively looking for another job? If for some reason you don’t like the job, you don’t have to accept the offer to be converted to full-time at the end of the contract. It’s okay to keep your options open. Contract-to-perm jobs also have a higher hourly rate than salary positions when broken down. It’s the best of both worlds!

The Job

Contract-to-perm positions have some of the fastest onboarding processes we see. These companies are looking to get the job done as fast as possible. The interview process tends to be easier as well – “Can you do the job? Yes? Great!”  In most cases, you also have the ability to be flexible with your hours. As long as the work is getting done, and you’re committing the appropriate amount of hours each week, your employer will be happy. Remember, the bottom line of these positions is to complete a project.

This ‘trial’ period is mutually beneficial for the employee and the employer. That's right, there are benefits for the employer, too. With contract-to-perm positions, employers win in terms of hiring process, the job itself, and the future.

Hiring Process

Like we said before, the onboarding for contract-to perm-positions is typically pretty quick and painless. When looking for contractors, you’re looking to fill an urgent need and thus don’t have to sift through as many resumes and worry about the right ‘culture’ fit.

The Job

Being that contract-to-perm positions are more like ‘trial’ periods, if you find the candidate isn’t a good fit, you are not committed to taking them on full-time. The arrangement lets you weigh their skills vs. how they are as an employee without having to commit right away. As recruiters, that fact alone trumps any argument about not hiring contract-to-perm. It’s like test driving a car before you buy it. Sure, it may look nice, but how well does it actually perform?

The Future

There are two scenarios that can happen with a contract-to-perm employee that can affect your future, both for the better. Say the hire is great and gets the project done but for whatever reason, doesn’t take/get offered to be put on full-time. That candidate will always be someone you can add to your network. If ever there was a time in the future when you need a project done, you know that you can call that person to get it done. On the other hand, if you flip the employee into full-time, you already know what you’re getting. The employee has already proven themselves as an asset and is a great cultural fit.

If you haven’t thought about hiring contract-to-perm or accepting that sort of position, we definitely suggest giving it a shot because it can open up a whole new avenue of potential opportunities.

Related: Advice

The Top Five Reasons Your Engineers are Leaving

Abby

Article by Abby Rose, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Boston

I don’t work on a software development team and I don’t understand the ins and outs of what an engineering team does on a day-to-day basis. But do I talk to engineers daily? Yes, and they frequently divulge information to me that they never share with their manager prior to giving their notice.

I talk to them about why they are looking to leave their company (emphasis on looking because we all know that software engineers across the board are all passive in their job hunts). This article is not meant to tell IT professionals how to run their teams or manage their developers. I hope this analysis provides insight to the most common reasons as to why engineers do end up leaving companies and how it might help in your efforts to prevent losing top talent.

I evaluated the candidates that Workbridge Boston has placed and their “reason for leaving” since the beginning of 2013. We have three teams within our organization that place Java, Open Source, .NET and System Engineers, with approximately 150 placed candidates in the past 2 quarters of 2013.

Below are the top 5 reasons why, in our experience, engineers leave their companies:

1.   New Challenges/Growth/Strategy

We’ve all heard it. “I have no room for growth in my current company” or “I am not challenged here anymore.” But what do those statements really mean? Our first reaction, as a recruiting firm, is to ask the engineer if they have addressed these concerns with their manager. Many times it is a simple fix and all parties avoid the ever dreaded acceptance of a counter offer.

But what if it’s not a simple fix? Engineers that are not continuously challenged or aren't given the resources to grow their skill set will immediately look elsewhere to do so. Challenge and growth definitions vary for each individual, but what we see as a good solution is to consistently check in and promote an honest and open environment so engineers feel comfortable speaking about their career growth. If an engineer cannot believe in the strategy of a company and their approach to accommodating engineers, it’s easy in this market for them to find another company.

2.   Technology

This may seem obvious, but engineers thrive on teams that foster open mentalities on the use of new technologies. An old and stagnant tech stack is the quickest way to lose talent. Engineers are not necessarily chasing companies that use the newest technologies, but they are looking to leave companies that have closed mindsets.

Again, I know I don’t sit on a software development team. The pains of adapting new technologies to a platform may be difficult, but it could be a good way to challenge your engineers (referring to the first point) to integrate or use the technologies they are interested in.

3.   Team and Management

I’ve never had a candidate say they hate their boss or that the management staff is horrible. The reasons engineers leave their companies due to management is usually because of a shuffle in upper-level management that trickles down to operational changes on a technical team.

If a leader in space leaves the company, or a VP is promoted to a hands-off role, or a new CTO is hired, changes occur that effect day-to-day routines of an engineering team. The most common pain points engineers talk about are added responsibilities and unrealistic new expectations, a new SDLC that kills the current flow, disorganization of priorities, or lack of new/continued mentorship. Management transitions are a crucial time to communicate with a team and again, foster an honest environment.

4.   False Expectations

“I was hired to be a back-end Ruby engineer and I’m developing HTML templates.”  That’s no good! It usually surprises me how much I hear about engineers being hired for a certain position and end up spending the first 3-6 months doing a completely different job. It usually roots back to an interview feeling like a honeymoon without diving deep, and truly deep, into what this specific role and this specific engineer’s timeline will be. If they are going to be developing HTML templates for the first 3 months, say that. Don’t hide it.

Again, communication in the first six months on a weekly basis can prevent a situation getting too far out of hand. Many times, as human beings, we wait until it’s too late to talk about being unhappy with our job. Instead what engineers decide to do is jump ship and find something new where they can ditch the unwanted parts of their current role.

5.   Money/Stability

Yes, every recruiter encounters a job seeker that is driven to receive a higher salary than what they currently have. Good recruiters proceed with a lot of caution prior to representing that candidate.

It is more common, however, to find an engineer that is looking for a job because of the following reasons associated with money.

  1. A startup didn’t get funding
  2. Company is going under and can’t pay engineers their market value salary
  3. Haven’t received a raise in over a year

Some of these factors are not preventable, but setting up realistic goals and incentives for raises will help you keep valuable engineers around longer. Clear cut steps to a bump in salary and honesty about the stability of the company will increase the longevity of your developers. If other people in the company are being laid off, talking about why and what is going on behind the scenes will prevent engineers from looking around. When employees get laid off, it shakes up the nerves of others. Many times engineers in our office say “a few people were laid off last week, so I’m looking because I want to be proactive about finding something new before I’m out of a job.”

Good news is that reason 5 is an easy fix by being communicative, open, and honest about what is happening within an organization and about how each person can be held accountable for their next raise.

Take away what you would like from this information. Hopefully it helps companies reflect on the way they approach retaining talent from an “aftermath” perspective.

Three take away points:

  1. Create a truly honest environment
  2. Communication, communication, communication
  3. Proactive and not reactive check-ins with all engineers

Related: Advice

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