Contract Recruitment in a time of Covid-19

The last few months have been tough for most recruiters and it comes as no surprise that when costs are being controlled, contract staff are often cut first and projects (particularly global ones) get put on hold. This means tough times for our fellow contract recruiters, however, it’s not all doom and gloom and often a recession or a troubled market is a great opportunity for contract to thrive – Here’s why:

1) Headcount and Budget

Naturally, restrictions on permanent headcounts and limited budgets can lead to the option of taking contractors instead of taking permanent employees. This is the obvious argument for contracting and becomes extremely relevant in more difficult hiring environments.

2) Stigma

Historically contract in Asia is the second choice to a nice safe permanent role however, Covid- 19 has demonstrated just how unstable a permanent role can be. With a significant number of people in the market looking for work, a contract role is a viable option to keep working, upskill in new projects, or maneuver into a permanent role longer term.

3) Increase of Niche Contract Recruitment

If niche contract/consulting firms can provide solutions for a quarter or third of the price of traditional Professional Services firms it is easy to argue that there will be an increase in demand. In some case’s companies may be able to acquire entire project teams for an extended period. There are huge opportunities for transformation within organisations able to think outside the box during these times.

4) Access to better talent pools

Contract recruiters often comment about the difficulty to attract skilled talent due to their resistance to taking a “contract” role. A challenging market can often recalibrate this. In highly niche areas clients have often not been able to afford the right skills to get their projects done in a very candidate-driven market. As more talent comes into the market clients may be able to get a higher quality candidate for a price they can now afford. With many global projects being put on hold or canceled, the upside is local business now has access to better talent pools of contractors.

5) Localization of workforces

Delays in milestone focused projects (Civils and Infrastructure, shipyards, etc) due to ex-pat contractors not being able to enter countries can cause considerable extra cost to organizations. To combat this companies will often turn to the local workforce to fill short term gaps.

This may drive the demand for local workforces. This could also allow contract providers further opportunities for training and change management project solutions. In locations like Singapore as the MOM continues to tighten regulations around giving out Employment Passes and bringing in offshore talent there will be a continued focus on hiring Singaporean talent. This can help drive upskilling and opportunities for local employees.

In conclusion, there is a lot to be optimistic about for contract recruiters (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now for some of you!)  Those with the resilience and capability to look for new ways to offer support to their clients will thrive in these types of environments and we for one would love to see the continued development and growth of this market. Is our contract recruitment community on the verge of something big? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments.

*Thank you to all the contract specialists we spoke to over the last two weeks for their insights. If you are a client looking for an alternative solution to permanent employees or a candidate interested in contract roles, please reach out to the following experts:

Chris Bennett: Tenten Partners

Adam Wade: Nextwave Partners

Anuaar Sallim: Wrs

Kapil Chadha: Salt/Xpand

Elliot Jackson: Morgan McKinley

Matt Wolstenholm: Airswift

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