Contractor Needs – What IT contractors want out of an IT contract

Contractor Needs
Contractor Needs

Contractor Needs – Survey

What are contractor needs from agencies and clients?

Some research was done a while back by giant group to survey what IT contractor needs really were from IT contracting. The results may, or may not, surprise you.

Scores were calculated according to the preference given by IT contractors for each category. The maximum possible score is 600.

Contractors’ Income

Right at the top there was Income with a score of 469 out 600.

That‘s why contractors become contractors, and the accumulation of hard cash is their highest priority. Income thrashed all other categories quite easily.

Work / Life Balance

Next most important to them is Work / Life Balance. Cynics would say that the Work / Life Balance that contractors want is to earn as much cash as they can till 5 o‘clock. Then it is to hotfoot it out the door and not think again about the job till the next day.

However, that would be unfair to a lot of IT contractors. Although I have met many contractors who liked IT contracting precisely because they didn‘t have to worry about the job and their career after they left work. They were able to pursue an active social life with all that hard earned cash.

In fact I was one of them, until the later stages of my contracting career when I took on more senior roles.

Skills Development

Next most important to contractors is Skills Development with a score of 403. This is especially important after the downturn which saw a lot of people, especially those with older skills, laid off.

It is important to take a contract that gives you fresh skills opportunities. That’s even if the rate is lower. However, that is difficult to do at the moment with still an abundance of contractors and with clients insisting on fully matching CVs (or at least their HR and purchasing departments anyway).

In the past though, Contractors haven‘t usually haven‘t had to take a rate cut when they get a chance of new skills. That’s usually because the skills are relatively rare. The reason that clients are taking contractors who don‘t already have those skills is that they can‘t find anyone else with the skills. With the rarity value the skills are at a premium price.

Job Security

There‘s then a bit of a drop down to Job Security, with a score of 372 points.

Surprisingly this isn‘t higher after the downturn we have had. I think that this shows us that contractors are truly a breed apart. They rate income far more highly than job security.

It would be interesting to see what the equivalent answers would be if the question were put to permies.


It‘s no great surprise to find that contractors rate Responsibility at second bottom with a mark of only 345.

After all, why go contracting just to load yourself up with a whole load of responsibility and worry. You could have stayed permie for that.

I suspect that contractors are not against Responsibility per se, but would only take it on for more hard cash.

Employer / Brand

This gets the lowest score of the lot, with a mark of only 308 out of 600 – barely a pass mark.

It looks as if contractors couldn‘t give a monkey‘s cuss who they work for as long as they pay them well.

I must confess that I wasn‘t over worried either. Always I tended to take the contract with the most pay. I wouldn‘t have taken less money to work for a more so-called top brand name.

In fact, if other contractors are like me, they care much less for brands in general than other people do. I always wondered why companies spent so much time and money on their logo, for instance, when it matters not a jot to me when I buy anything.

Conclusion – Contractors Needs

So in conclusion, what do contractors want?

It looks like it is Money, Money, Money every time. When they say that they want a good healthy balance between work and their social life, I suspect that they mean more social life and less work.

I wonder if there are many who think that their social life is too active and they could do with more work.

Keeping their skills up to date seems to have some importance so that they can get more of that lovely Money but Responsibility and the Employer / Brand Name appear to mean very little.

So, there you have it, agents and clients. You know what we want in terms of contractor needs.

For further useful articles click on Contracting.

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