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Is Now a Good Time to Become a Procurement Contractor?

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Traditionally, contracting in Wellington’s procurement space has been limited to highly experienced individuals. However, in the last couple of years, we’ve been seeing a significant shift. While a healthy demand for contractors remains, the skill set that employers are demanding is changing to reflect the evolving requirements of procurement roles, creating a real appetite for people that don’t just have skills in the purchasing process, but soft skills as well.

With skills like negotiation and relationship building in such high demand, I’ve certainly noticed a real gap in the talent market – a great opportunity for those who might be considering a switch to contracting. Whether you’re not sure on how to make the jump, or have some concerns about the reality of working as a contractor, here are a few answers to the common questions I get asked by candidates, and what it takes to get yourself set up.   

What Does the Current Market Look Like?

There’s obviously a shortage of good talent across permanent and fixed term roles, but we’re seeing significantly higher demand in the contract space. A lot of employers are coming to me looking for contractors to come in, produce results, and get the job done without too much hassle, and that’s what is missing – contractors who can seamlessly fit in and hit the ground running. Some other market observations include:

  • Like I mentioned, the shift in mindset from employers means anyone with a solid base of procurement knowledge and 4-5 years’ experience will have businesses wanting to speak to them!
  • Rate expectations from experienced contractors are still very high so it’s a great opportunity to be a point of difference and increase your own income, while pricing yourself underneath others.
  • I’m also noticing more employers who are willing to wait out notice periods. If you are up against contractors who can start immediately, while sometimes it may count against you, employers would often rather wait for the best fit.

Barriers to Contracting

The Safety of a Fixed Salary

When comparing to the security of a permanent salary (where you know exactly what to expect in your pay packet each week or month), there will always be a degree of uncertainty around the longevity of contract procurement jobs. While it’s not an option for everyone, don’t brush it aside just yet. After all, the money is very lucrative and when properly managed, can certainly offset any time you are out of work.

The key here, is a financial plan. By preparing in this way, you’ll find yourself less worried about finances, and better able to save the extra money you are earning for a rainy day e.g. over Christmas when contracts dry up (although time off over the festive period is usually a welcome bonus anyway!).

The Risk of Non-Continuous Work

Coming from a permanent role, it can be challenging to adjust your mindset knowing that contracts end and projects can be pulled with little notice (although this is extremely rare). Ask yourself, would you be comfortable going with the flow and bouncing from contract to contract? Interestingly enough, most of the contractors I speak to about this feel their work schedule is not much different from a permanent employee with six weeks’ annual leave. The difference is, they benefit from the freedom and flexibility that a contract career brings; taking breaks when they want to!

Comparing Skill Sets

It’s only natural (especially when working alongside experienced contractors) to compare your ability to others and wonder if you have what it takes to succeed in a contract career. While there are many people that have been doing it for 10, 15 or 20 years, the shift in mindset from today’s employers means they are on the hunt for new skill sets.

There is a real appetite for fresh blood, so don’t just assume you can’t do it. If you have been in a couple of procurement roles and see yourself on an upward trajectory, it’s worth considering. Not only is it a rewarding option, but it will also give you the opportunity to apply the skills you have learned to new environments – you just need to back yourself.

How Do I Set Myself Up?

If you’re looking to give contracting a go but don’t know the first thing about being self-employed, then you’re not alone! There are obviously a few things to consider; how you pay your taxes, ACC and KiwiSaver contributions to name a few. The first thing to do is speak to a recruiter. While we can’t provide financial advice ourselves, we work with contractors all the time, so have a range of contacts to help those who are looking to make the jump.

While many use their own Accountant, there is also a range of organisations that work alongside contractors so that you don’t have to worry about the finance side of things.  You’ll find they all charge either a percentage of your income, a fixed fee, or something comparable. Be sure to compare because they all offer something a little different, so it’s worth getting some advice from existing contractors on who they prefer and why. At Beyond Recruitment, we work with a complementary partner that can handle all of your contributions and replicates typical PAYE payments. With an easy to use platform, the feedback has been very strong from our contractor base!

Final Thoughts

Making the jump to contracting might seem daunting, but with a bit of planning and organisation, it's a very viable option. Being that the current market has an appetite for fresh blood there has never been a better time to work as a procurement contractor in Wellington, either. Beyond Recruitment is here to help you out along the way, so if you’re looking to make the step over (or are looking for your next contract), get in touch with me