I’ve met many happy contractors.
So what keeps IT contractors happy then? What makes them think of their IT agent as the perfect agent?
They know that agencies have to make money, so they won‘t be expecting us to put ‘Takes no cut’ in our list. Here they are then:-
Pays on Time
– This is the most crucial and has been borne out in survey after survey. Agencies have got to get the basics right and pay their contractors on time
Names Fee Up Front
– It is very important for a relationship of trust between a contractor and his agency that the agency tells the contractor how much the agency is making from the contractor.
If they refuse to say, saying that it is their policy not to tell, then there will immediately be suspicion from the outset.
Contractors don‘t mind the agency taking anything up to 20%. When it starts to get beyond that there is a problem for happy contractors.
No Spamming References
– Except for the very gullible contractors who might cough up, there is an immediate suspicion when agencies phone up demanding that you provide references from previous jobs.
As one agent told us ‘In 16 years of doing this job, I‘ve never known one job where the company needs references up front’.
I think that says it all. Normally it is agencies who are in desperate trouble who do this. So even of they get you a job through them (which is extremely unlikely) you may find that soon they won‘t be able to pay you
No Fake Job Adverts
– Don‘t put job adverts on the job boards for vacancies that don‘t exist.
We had a recent example of a jobseeker who was perfect for the job. However, he was turned by the agent down five minutes after the job went up. That was because the salary that he was asking for was less than his previous salary.
The agent didn‘t even look at the rest of the CV, which he received whilst the jobseeker was on the phone. Agencies could also help by telling contractors and their employees when they have been rejected.
I know it is a lot of work but a lot of it can be automated nowadays. You know that the people are going to call you anyway
Have Client / Customer Relationship
– If agencies are making quite a lot of money from ‘selling on‘ contractors, it would help if they took contractors out to lunch every so often.
Other small gifts at Christmas time wouldn‘t go amiss either, as well as an invitation to the Christmas party.
An invitation to have dinner at the agent‘s house often goes down well even if not taken up. It shows that the agency considers the contractor to be an important client and not just a ‘body‘.
Agencies that don‘t do any of these appear like cheapskates – and ungrateful cheapskates as well
Keep Out of Hair
– There are some contractors who want their agency to keep in touch every so often, calling them to see how things are going (and if the company is looking for anyone else).
Unless you are coming loaded with goodies, most contractors prefer agencies to leave them alone during the contract
Reduce Cut at Renewal
– Although contractors know that it takes a lot of work for agencies to get someone a job in the first place, they also know that it takes little effort to tie up a renewal of a contract.
It therefore strikes them as fair play if the agency were to take a slight drop in their rate at each renewal. That’s because it is easy recurring business.
The contractor has done a good job for the agency with their client and should be rewarded for this. It is even more crucial for the agency to do this if the client is not going to give the contractor a rise in rate
– There is no reason that an agency shouldn‘t pay a contractor commission if the contractor gives the agency a tip-off that someone is looking for contractors, and the company subsequently takes someone on from the agency.
Many agencies pay a one-off bonus to contractors. However, it would be better for the agencies if they had a whole army of ‘scouts‘ out there tipping off when a prospect comes up.
They are far more likely to do this if they are to share in the profits. Very few contractors are that interested in that one-off bonus. However, many would be interested in recurring income from their business
IR35 Free Contracts
– The Government is trying to make IT contractors pay a whole lot more in tax.
They consider them to be ‘disguised employees‘ rather than in business in their own account.
Agencies should take advice from their own legal advisers on how to make their contracts as IR35-free as possible. They shouldn’t wait to be prompted by the contractor to do it
Take Out Restrictive Clauses
– Many agencies have a clause in their contract that prevents the contractor from approaching the client for any more business whilst they are under contract to the agency.
Moreover, many of them have restrictive clauses preventing contractors from approaching the client for a period of up to a year afterwards.
This is one of the major reasons why contractors are not able to turn their limited companies into real small businesses. They don‘t bother keeping their ears open for opportunities.
More Happy Contractors on Books
It would be much better for the agencies to make some sort of agreement beforehand with the contractor. That’s so that the contractor and the agency can gain if the contractor finds more work (e.g. quotes for a project or area of the system) from the client. That would make for more happy contractors
I‘m sure there are several others. Please feel free to tell us about them, but we feel that these are amongst the main ones.
If agencies were to do all of these things they would have a lot of happy contractors on their books. They would almost certainly get a lot more business too.