Back to All News Articles

What Makes Contractors Tick


I have been recruiting contractors in the Wellington market for nearly three years now. In the process, I have noticed a number of key trends. One key trend is that the government’s policy to reduce public servant headcounts is driving contract recruitment in the IT, Transformation, Accounting, Procurement and Government sectors. But what does this mean to contractors, or permanent staff looking to get into contracting? Having met with contractors around adding value, being delivery and outcome focussed, drawing on past experience and working with recruitment consultants to gain that next assignment; here is what I have found.

Caring to Add Value

One of the best Business Analyst contractors in the Wellington market gave me some good insight around the myth that “contractors do not care.” This is a rather outdated way to look at it. Contractors do care, because they are there for a specific reason: to add value. How they go about adding that value is where that “care” comes in. Much of how contractors add value is about research; researching the project, the organisation, knowing who the key stakeholders are going to be, who the project will affect and what the deliverables are. This can only be done by going in with an open mind, listening intently and caring about the project.

After that, you have a basis to draw on past experience of similar projects you have been on. You can provide an external, impartial but informed view right out of the gate, which can help to bring new insights to the table and drive the project forward. Look at different techniques that have been used in similar projects, or overseas, to great effect, and pull out the relevant parts. Adding this value will develop into you becoming a Trusted Advisor, and a sounding board to stakeholders.

Focussed on Delivery

Contractors, by and large, are very much delivery focussed. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Contractors are mindful of the rates being charged. Contractors charge out on reasonable hourly and daily rates, given the quality of their experience and their ability to hit the ground running on new projects. Given that the majority of Wellington contractors are in Government, contractors are very mindful of this cost from a public interest perspective.
  • They have been brought on to deliver a piece of work within a set time frame. Projects (typically) have an end date or a go live date. With contractors being specialists in their line of work they are able to give it the dedicated time it requires to get it done on time.
  • Contractors are often able to have a wider vision than their permanent counterpart sitting beside them. Contractors would often have been involved in similar projects or pieces of work. This is important as they have seen where other projects have both succeeded and what areas could be developed, and (hopefully) they will have learnt from the process. This means they are able to take that knowledge and bring that vision to the current assignment. A permanent employee, on the other hand, may only be able to see it from a narrower scope.

Use Your Contracting Recruiter Effectively

My advice to contractors in the market is to work with two or three specialist consultants in your respective fields. When you are looking to get back on the market, give us a heads up. Contracting Recruiters are also able to be proactive in the market on your behalf, lining up job opportunities in advance and minimising your downtime. We are able to provide you with a market update, keep you informed of the opportunities on the horizon and give you feedback on your assignment from the client. Building these relationships is important to connect yourself with other opportunities, and as a result we are better able to take a more targeted approach find you a contract that suits what you are looking for.

Final Thoughts

Contracting can provide people with a different set of opportunities, opportunities that are not seen as often within the permanent market, including comprehensive networking, a great variety of work, constantly evolving projects and exposure to a wide variety of different technologies and assignments. But it is not all fun projects and flexibility! One contractor who I spoke to, when I asked him what the one piece of advice he would give to someone looking to go contracting was, said “sit down with your accountant and get your tax sorted out.”

Given the nature of the contract market and current projects in Wellington at present, it is now presumed you will have; excellent stakeholder management skills, strong communication skills and be able to work in ambiguous environments. If that sounds like you, and you are looking for your next contract or thinking about going contracting give me a call and we can have a confidential conversation.