by Stephen Zafarino

Full-time or contract tech professionals? When to hire tech contractors

Jul 01, 2019
CareersIT SkillsStaff Management

When it comes to hiring tech talent, companies must decide between contract and full-time. Here are three scenarios when it’s best to opt for tech contractors.

15 contractor
Credit: Thinkstock

Today, 20 percent of jobs in America are held by contract workers, according to a recent NPR/Marist poll. That number is projected to reach 50 percent in the next ten years. At Google, contract workers now outnumber full-time employees, which likely comes as a surprise to those not tracking the growing trend of opting for contract-based talent.

The long-held beliefs that hiring contract talent would lead to internal culture problems or provide a lack of employment stability for talent are rapidly dissipating as talent recognizes the premium companies will pay for niche, subject matter experts and companies realize what they have to gain by employing tech talent on a contract or contract-to-hire basis.

If you’ve been considering an updated hiring approach to try out contract talent solutions, here’s a look at the three most common scenarios when companies benefit more from hiring contract-based tech resources than full-time employees.

1. You need a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Arguably the most common reason companies opt for a tech contractor is because they need a subject matter expert (SME) for a high-level need. Experts like data engineers, cloud migration specialists or eCommerce SME command some of the highest salaries in the market due to their niche specialization areas, but employers often only need them for 6 months to a year or more, compared to the day-to-day needs full-time employees are crucial for.

If you’re looking for a resource to help with the implementation of new infrastructure or help ramp your team up, contract-based tech talent is a great solution. It allows you to land the high-end, niche talent you need for as long as you need them without the added costs of providing competitive salary and benefits packages for a role you may not need permanently.

2. Urgent hiring needs

One of the top benefits of employing tech contractors is the urgent solution they provide when companies face a looming project deadline or an unexpected talent gap. Things happen; a key resource on your team takes another opportunity and resigns, a lead developer goes on paternity or maternity leave, or you experience unplanned delays and your app launch is no longer on track to hit the deadline. Hiring for contract-based talent eliminates the need for an extensive hiring process and instead allows you to fast-track the need thanks to the urgent accessibility and availability of contract talent.

You can get tech contractors interviewed and onboarded much faster than full-time talent as the same training, culture fit needs, and financial concerns of making a bad hire don’t apply as extensively. Opting for contract talent when facing an unexpected talent gap also provides you the opportunity to evaluate if you need this resource long-term, if they are a good culture fit, and if they work well within your environment throughout the length of the contract. Doing so provides you with the option to transition top contract talent over to a full-time hire based on their proven experience with your team rather than just a resume and a few interviews.

Regardless if you plan to hire on a contract or contract-to-hire basis, both options provide you with urgent resources that can get started immediately during times when a hiring and onboarding process that lasts days as opposed to weeks or months can make all the difference.

3. Project-based needs

Hiring tech contractors can be the best hiring strategy for your business if you need a high-end, costly SME for limited, project-based needs. Rather than using your entire budget to hire one full-time SME with a competitive salary of $150,000 for a few or infrequent projects, a better use of your budget is to pay a premium for contract-based SME on an as-needed basis. That way you’re not paying the additional costs of a full-time SME during periods when they aren’t needed day-to-day.

Hiring multiple contractors also allows you to evaluate who would be the best fit for any full-time roles you’re looking to fill down the road and let the others roll-off at the end of the contract instead of having to lay off talent, which minimizes the risk of making a costly bad hire

When it comes to hiring in today’s candidate-driven market, especially for high-end, niche, limited tech talent, opting for contractors over full-time talent can provide employers with the flexibility they need to drive innovation, produce better products, and remain competitive. Consider contract or contract-to-hire the next time your team needs a SME, you have an urgent hiring need or unexpected talent gap or want to drive the most ROI from a limited budget.