6 Questions to Ask to Get Contract Job Orders

Recruiters who want to get into contracting often ask us how they can get contracting job orders. Some recruiters we work with say the best way to start is to simply ask current direct-hire clients if they need contractors. They may be surprised to learn that you offer contractors, and you may be surprised how many contracting job orders you get as a result!

Here are five other questions that can help you get more contracting job orders:

1. Do you have a hiring freeze now that prohibits you from hiring someone?

Even in hiring freezes, there is work that needs to get done. Rather than putting it off or overworking existing staff, your clients can utilize contractors to pick up the slack.  Why? Well, contractors typically come from a different budget than direct-hires, so clients can get around the hiring freeze because the addition of contractors won't affect the capital budget.  Contractors also do not create a long-term financial commitment. So if your clients are struggling through hiring freezes, they may be grateful to you for providing a solution.

2. Do you have a deadline or special project that needs to be completed?

Your client may be putting off a new project because it requires a lot of extra people that they won't need once the project is done or specialized skills that are not useful outside this specific project. By utilizing contractors, they don't have to put off those projects. They can bring on the talent they need and simply end the contracts when the work is over.

3. Do you need to reduce tax risks associated with 1099 independent contractors.

We have written extensively about the risks companies take when they misclassify workers who should be W-2 employees as 1099 independent contractors.  But it's temping to classify workers as independent contractors because companies don't have to pay the employer share of taxes, offer benefits, or incur the administrative costs of processing payroll and employment paperwork that comes with W-2 employees. You can help by offering to convert 1099 independent contractors to W-2 employees who are employed by a contracting back-office. This way, your clients don't have to take on the cost and administrative burden that comes with having employees, but they also don't have to worry about the IRS knocking on their door to conduct a worker classification audit!

4. Do you want to evaluate a candidate's skills prior to offering direct employment?

In the wake of the recession, companies are still reluctant to hire unless they really have to. When they do have to hire, they want to make sure they are selecting the right person because they don't have the time and money to do it again if they get it wrong.  You can give them the opportunity to "try before they buy" by providing a contract-to-direct option. In this scenario, they bring the worker in on a contract basis to evaluate their skills. If they like what they see, they can extend a direct offer (and you can earn a nice conversion fee). If the worker doesn't meet their expectations, they can end the contract and try someone else.

5. Do you want to avoid layoffs and bad press?

Businesses have frequent ups and downs. To meet demand during the "ups," companies often have to bring in extra help. But what happens when the demand goes down? Often they have to make the hard decision to layoff workers, which can lower the morale of the remaining staff and make the company look bad to the public.  The solution? During the good times, companies could utilize contractors to meet the increased demand.  If business slows, they can simply end the contracts.

Getting contract job orders doesn't have to be any harder than getting direct-hire orders. In fact, in today's business environment, it can actually be easier! You just have to ask the right questions.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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