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Contractor vs Direct Hire

Contractor vs Direct Hire

Decisions, decisions.  You need to hire a new employee and you’ve already started doing some phone screens, but you can’t decide if you want to hire someone direct or have them start as a contractor.  This week’s discussion will hopefully give you a few things to consider when making a decision between hiring a contractor versus direct hire placement.  See the video blog version below.

With the high-tech economy doing much better than years past, many employers are hiring to meet market demands and to position themselves for their next big wave of projects.  Staffing to meet these needs can get tricky when many of the best engineers, software developers, or technicians are not available.  In response, companies like to hire contractors for a trial period to make sure they’ll perform well and be a cultural fit.  While I see nothing wrong with this, there can be some drawbacks.

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When good talent is scarce, I recommend hiring direct.  This discourages the new hire (contractor) from looking around during their contract period simply because they’re really seeking health benefits or maybe took the position just to get a job.  It’s really up to the recruiter and the hiring manager that reviews the resumes to determine the intentions of the candidates.

However, contractors can provide a specialized expertise within your workforce, because they typically have a deep skill set that reduces your risk on large projects and can add greater capabilities on others.  If you go the route of using contractor staffing, I would determine up front if they come with their own health insurance, and determine their comfort level for doing working a contract assignment.

In summary, when engineer recruiting becomes more difficult, I suggest employers hire engineers direct.  This way you don’t lose them during the early contract period and it focuses your contract hiring on those specific skillsets needed for critical projects.  Seasoned contractors for these typically have their own insurance coverage and are used to that lifestyle.  But if you just need contractors to meet a spike in your workload, be careful to not hire contractors that don’t intend to stay as that can set your timelines back even further.  Engineering recruitment agencies can help you determine which decision is best based on the regional talent pool and your hiring needs.

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3 Comments

  1. MarkDecember 21, 2016 at 11:50 amReply

    Do contract positions require the employee to fulfill the terms of the contract (for example 2 years). Or is it like normal jobs, where the employer or the employee can cancel the job at any time?

    • Chris SpechtDecember 21, 2016 at 12:31 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for checking out my blogs re: contract employment. Most jobs I’ve seen are “at will employment”, where the employer and employee can cancel their contract at any time. In other words, a contractor can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish “just cause” for termination), and without warning.

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