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Rate Expectations

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The current economy and market conditions are having an interesting knock-on effect in the temporary and contract space, affecting both client and candidate in different ways.

Historically, the professional interim has been in an enviable position – choosing between contracts to enjoy a variety of roles; managing their own career; and most importantly receiving typically higher pay to their permanent counterparts. Of course, daily rates differed in line with demand for specific skill sets or the urgency of a transformation project for example, but overall, total remuneration was always significantly more than the equivalent permanent salary for the role in question.

Today, many sectors, such as retail, consumer and media are feeling the squeeze and recruitment budgets are one of the many elements facing change. Clients are still looking for temporary talent – in fact, general uncertainty and rising employment costs are causing them to be more flexible and increasingly turn to contract employees – but they’re not necessarily paying the daily rates some candidates have become accustomed to.

On the flipside, temporary candidates are understandably still looking to achieve the best daily rate possible, particularly if they are experienced and have been working at a certain pay grade for a while. Their expectations, however, are drifting further out of line with the market forces.

The result of this expectation gap is that some candidates are being driven to other industries or to those companies that are still able to pay the higher rates, limiting their career options and leaving other companies missing out on top talent. So, what is the solution?

As a recruiter specialising in this market, our job is to manage the rate expectations of both parties and find the best fit for both client and candidate, which in the current climate often necessitates a degree of compromise on both sides.

The argument to clients is that slashing recruitment budgets will only ever result in a smaller talent pool to choose from, and many interim candidates will have specific project based experience so are worth the cost because they can add value from the offset. Yes, their daily rates can seem inflated, but are offset by the lack of pension, bonus and healthcare that an employer would otherwise also pay.

Equally, candidates should be aware that with more and more talent choosing the interim life and companies using temporary staff to a greater degree, they will be up against more competition, which could drive rates down anyway. It’s worth being flexible, especially if the opportunity is going to result in greater experience on a CV. When both parties consider the facts, meeting somewhere in the middle often brings the most positive outcome.