• Contractor Signup

    The Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy – Part 3

    Below is a summary of the third chapter of our white paper: ‘The Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy’. Here we discuss the traditional agency reliant contractor recruitment model, its advantages, disadvantages, and why employers should consider a direct contractor recruitment model.  ‘You can download the full paper via the link below:

    >>Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy<<

    The Traditional Contractor Recruitment Model

    Contractors or freelancers are often drafted in on a project basis at short notice. Having on demand access to contract talent pools of various niches and skills is difficult to achieve.  Even if you could find a contractor with the right skill set quickly, you need to be able to determine their availability and day rate, not information that’s always readily available.

    Monitoring contractors also takes resource and normally involves some sort of timesheet management. The contractor will need to be set up as a supplier to be pay-rolled, typically via an Umbrella or Ltd Company, and finally you’ll need to approve and pay the relevant invoices. On top of all this, you need to comply with the relevant HMRC laws to ensure you don’t run into any co-employment issues.

    All of the above, in addition to the fact that unlike permanent hires, recruiting contractors has not been traditionally considered part of a firms direct recruitment strategy, means it’s often simpler for an employer to use an established recruitment consultancy to supply their contractors.  Of course, depending on the industry you will then be paying a mark-up on their day rate anywhere between 12-30%.

    Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy - Part 3

    Typically a hiring manager will be have a demand for a contractor and notify a recruitment agency, perhaps on a Preferred Supplier List (PSL). The agency will do the work of searching for a suitable contractor and present a shortlist to the hiring manager.  Telephone and face to face interviews will take place, the contractor may receive a job offer and begin their contract.  Each week the contractor will submit their timesheets to the agency who pays the contractor.  The agency then invoices the company with an added margin on the contractors’ day rate.

    Advantages of The Traditional Model

    • Resource – The agency does the searching and has access to talent pools.
    • Simplicity – You receive a shortlist of candidates.
    • Compliance – Reduced risk around co-employment issues.
    • References Checks – The agency will have carried out necessary reference checks on the contractor.


    • Dependence – You are reliant on third parties for access to talent resulting in an inability to build your own pool or pipeline of contractors.
    • Cost of Hiring– You will pay a mark-up (often a very significant mark-up) on day rates.
    • Brand – Using third parties means you have reduced brand control over the candidate experience and how your company is represented in the market.
    • Lack of Market Insight – Your reliant on a third parties for key information such as upcoming skills shortages and market day rate benchmark data.
    • Time to Hire – Using a third party means an extra step in the process and a longer recruitment cycle.
    • Commercial Priorities – Successfully negotiating down rates with recruitment agencies may provide short term cost saving benefits, but it can also push you down their priority list if they can place the same candidates for a higher margin elsewhere.

    >>Download the Full Whitepaper for Free<<

  • Startup Hiring & Recruitment

    How to Attract Top Freelancers to Work for Your startup

    Working in startups has never been more accessible; the freelance job market is booming. With the eruption of new age recruitment tools, social media and even specific startup job boards available to use, the avenues to access freelance talent has never been better.   Startup recruitment, mostly comprising of task and project-based work, has been steadily growing for years now and freelancers have been an essential part of the $1 billion industry.

    But even as the freelance job market expands and more highly skilled freelancers become available, the competition to recruit top talent is as tough as ever. The number of large and medium-sized companies recognizing the potential of recruiting freelancers is increasing, meaning that it’s becoming more important that jobs in startups offer the working conditions that will attract the best.

    Startup culture is your greatest asset

    Most people go freelance because they love their profession and they feel passionate about their industry. This means that they’d much rather work with like-minded individuals in a vibrant, creative environment that promotes developing new solutions and sharing ideas.

    Even if your contractors work remotely, they should always feel like they’re working for an innovative company with a mission. Startups hiring new talent should always keep in mind that the best freelancers want to feel like they’re contributing towards something bigger and it’s much easier to see the results of their work in a startup. Let them experiment and develop new solutions and they’ll be more likely to include the work they’ve done for you in their portfolios, giving you exposure to other highly skilled ambitious freelancers.

    Respect the flexibility

    As an increasing number of graduates have already worked freelance or have considered it as a viable career option, it is becoming apparent that the younger generations are no longer drawn solely to attractive job packages and company benefits – they want a good work-life balance too. Working as contractors gives professionals the ability to work their own hours, and working for a startup normally offers more flexibility than a multinational corporation that may wish impose on their working routine. Always remember to give freelancers the flexibility they work so hard to obtain and mention it in your job ads as well.

    Don’t underestimate a good job ad

    Startup recruitment strategies should not forget the importance of writing a good job ad. These are often the first point of contact between your startup and the contractors, so they should always include the assets mentioned above, creating an exciting prospect for high-calibre contractors. For more information on how to write an attractive job ad, follow our guide ‘The Startups’ Guide on How to Write a Compelling Job spec’.  If you do decide to advertise your job online, then do your research around the type of platform or job board you use.  Quality beats quantity so look for communities and websites as relevant to the skills you need as possible.

    Less process, more speed

    Attracting the best candidates is not always about the hiring process.  Working in startups has a reputation of requiring less administrative hassle and paperwork than bigger companies, and you should always make sure that the whole life-cycle of hiring a contractor runs smoothly, from onboarding to payment. Speed and flexibility is a big advantage to a startup.  As soon as you meet the freelancer you like, you can move quickly to hire them, free of the red tape that burdens bigger companies.

    In the same way you treat your permanent hires well, treating your freelancers well while they’re working for your startup is just as crucial.  Happy employees a more productive regardless of being permanent or contract based. Using systems that automate contractor timesheets and invoices will give you more time to focus on the work you’re paying your freelancers to do, and not the process of paying them.

    Finally, take advantage of free technology

    If you plan on hiring freelancers on a regular basis, you may want to think about using recruitment software to aid the process. Posting jobs on various sites, going through profiles and managing responses can be time consuming and tedious.  Because of these tasks and the fact that startups’ are naturally cost conscious, freemium cloud based recruitment solutions can be a big time and cost saver.

    Our own recruitment platform for instance will generate and advertise your job ad, and then intelligently match applicants by the skills and other criteria you were looking for to create a shortlist of top candidates.  It’s already our core business to attract freelancers for you, so take advantage!

    In essence, jobs in startups should make freelancers feel appreciated, responsible and part of a bigger picture with minimum administrative hassle. As long as your startup hiring strategy can offer this type of proactive atmosphere, you’re off to a good start.

  • Contractor Signup

    The Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy – Part 2

    Below is an extract from the second chapter of our white paper: ‘The Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy’. In this chapter we discuss how ‘The Recruitment Landscape Has Changed’, in relation to the continuing increase of freelancers and contractors as part of the working population, and the impact this will have. You can download the full paper via the link below:

    >>Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy<<

    The Recruitment Landscape Has Changed

    Recent employment trends confirm that a fundamental shift is taking place regarding the type of career path people now choose.  In the UK recent ONS figures indicate that of the 30.43 million people in work, 4.55 million are self-employed, an increase of 375,000 comparted to the same quarter in the previous year.  This means that independent professionals now represent 15% of the UK workforce.

    Whether it’s a sense of more career control, empowerment, or evolving technology as an enabler, a freelance or contract career path is now a genuine option, rather than just an alternative to full time employment when economic times are tough.

    In the United States, research suggests thay by 2020 half of the US workforce will be freelance.

    Such a seismic shift in employment patterns will have implications for both business and hiring models.  Much like many startups do, you may begin to see larger companies reduce the number of permanent employees they have in favour of a smaller flexible number of core employees who are supported by freelancers on key projects.

    HR departments will need to alter their workforce planning to involve new processes, tools and technologies that can source, engage, onboard and manage a workforce that looks very different to their current ones.  This in turn will have other implications on company culture, brand etc.

     >>Download the Full Whitepaper for Free<<

  • Startup Recruitment

    The Startups’ Guide on How to Write a Compelling Job spec

    There’s much more to writing a job ad than listing an attractive sum.  Startups compete with large established companies to recruit top talent, so a well-structured job ad is an essential part of the startup recruitment process that will help attract the best candidates. We’ve put together a guide to help you recruit freelancers/contractors that you’ll love working with in the long run.

    Download this Guide here

    1)      Get the basics right

    The first thing you need to remember is that candidates often skim through job ads, and the three basic components – the Salary, the Location and Job Title –need to be easy to find and clear. If you’re advertising your job online these factors will determine how easy it is for candidates to find your job, especially if they are signed up for sms or email job alerts. Avoid words like ‘superstar’ and ‘guru’, focus on making it easy to understand and remember.

    2)      Consider the medium

    The web usability principles apply to all texts published online and job ads are no exception. Avoid chunks of text that are more than 150 words long. If the ad looks difficult to read, or if candidate needs to scroll more than twice to get the end of the job description this will reduce application numbers.

    Some tech savvy start-ups have already started experimenting further with new forms of job ads, using Social Media and infographics to make their ad go viral and reach thousands more freelancers.  If you want to give infographics a go yourself, then click here for a great resource that summarises and provides links to various graphics tools and apps (including free ones).

    3)      Choose the correct tone.

    The friendlier, the better. Part of the appeal of working for start-ups is the idea that they’re more personable and have a better working atmosphere. Structure your ad as a start of a semi-informal dialogue with a type of contractor you would like to work with. Try to make the candidates feel comfortable applying for the position.

    4)      Keep it short and simple.

    Once they’re happy with the three basics, candidates will normally move on to reading the detailed job description, which is where the big mistakes start happening. There’s nothing more frustrating for a potential employee than having to read through five hundred words about the ideal candidate’s favourite pastimes with no concrete job description. Remember – People can get bored of any written text, including a job ad for a fantastic position. Don’t make them do chores before you’ve hired them.

    5)      Structure it wisely.

    Start with an opening of no more than one sentence explaining who you are and what the company does. Then elaborate on the job title and summarize what the person would be doing in a sentence of two.

    Make use of subtitles like ‘The Project’ ‘What you’d be doing’ or ‘Who we’re looking for’ to help them navigate the ad in case they want to go back to the job specs. Also, write the duties and desired skills in the form of short lists (not more than five items each, summarize if necessary, unless you need to be very technical and specific). Anything that breaks the routine of the text blocks is good.

    6)      Describing the job.

    Think of why the project is important to the company, how it advances the start-up’s mission and what kind of people you want for the job. Imagine the perfect contractor for the job is right across the desk from you and they’re really curious to know more. Tell them the story about why you’re passionate about what you do. It will show in your ad and really strike a chord with the freelancers who share your vision.  Put the list of the tasks the contractor will be performing after this paragraph.

    7)      Describing the candidate.

    Be specific with what kind of person that would be great for you. Do you need someone who’s experienced and just wants to get on with work or a junior freelancer you can train to do things your way? Do you need someone to work very closely with your permanent staff and if so, what kind of person would fit in? Is it a client facing role? What types of skills will they need? How many years of experience? Should they have a degree?

    Build on the persona you structured during the project description and add the desired characteristics, but make sure it’s no more than a paragraph long. Again, the short list of required skills comes after this initial paragraph.

    8)      Give them a sneak peak of the recruitment process.

    Tell them a bit about the next steps – will there be an interview/ phone call/ skype chat? Will you need to see a portfolio? Get in touch with their previous clients to obtain references? It’s always good to give some information about the recruitment process, so that the candidates can have all the necessary information and material at hand.

    Before you post your ad, make sure you’ve listed everything that’s important. If it’s an on-site position, make sure that’s clearly stated as well as any equipment, skills or other information that may be important to the person applying. Once you’re done you’ll be looking at a great ad attracting loads of great candidates. Good luck!

    One Last Thing!

    If you are advertising the job online, then I would advise you to have a quick search and apply for the job yourself.  Was it easy to find?  Was there anything in the application process that made it particularly cumbersome?  You’d be surprised at the number of employers who don’t test whether their jobs can even be found despite paying good money to advertise them!

    Download this Guide

  • Startup Hiring

    The Startup Hiring Challenge & How Elevate Direct Can Help

    There’s only one way startups and small businesses can survive in the long run – be the most flexible and adaptable businesses in any economic climate. Some experts argue that the only way to sustain these strengths is to employ less permanent staff such as contractors and freelancers, to fill skills gaps around business projects

    The practice has become more popular in the past few years, which is reflected by the increasing number of individuals taking up the contract route. Hiring contractors on a project basis enables a startup to grow at their own pace and only recruit skilled individuals when they’re needed. But even though it sounds like a simple solution, finding and hiring the right contractor can be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with recruitment practices or simply don’t have the resource to find contractors yourself.

    Why should you use contractors in the first place?

    Finding suitable permanent candidates with the skillset you need is often challenging, especially if you cannot guarantee quick career progression or the benefits of a larger brand. Most startups have limited resources that may not be enough to hire top talent permanently; this is why contractors can be a great alternative as they can be hired for a limited time or on a single project. They offer the skills you need for the duration and price you can all agree on.

    Global employment trends indicate that more and more highly skilled professionals are deciding to take the freelance route – economic slowdown in several sectors with decreasing job benefits and security, combined with the freedom to work on their own terms has led many to swap permanent positions for s successful freelance career

    The freelance route is particularly tempting for those on top of their game – client feedback and recommendations directly ensure repeat work, if you are able to identify and reach out to such high quality contractors quickly, you can really benefit from a rich set of skills and experience.

    Using Recruitment Agencies vs Recruiting Yourself

    Large companies have the resources to fully leverage all recruitment options including head-hunters.  Hiring a contractor involves several elements.  You need to find them, sift through applications, payroll them, process timesheets and invoice your supplier or contractor.

    Due to these complications typically when hiring contractors firms just use a recruitment agency that will take care of everything.  In return for finding and placing the contractor the agency will charge a fee  on top of the contractor day rate that the client has to pay.

    Depending on which industry or niche you are hiring in, the average margin an agency makes on the day rate could range anywhere from 12-30%.  For SME’s and Startups this can prove a significant cost, but if you had the ability to attract candidates directly and streamline the payroll, timesheeting etc within a single solution, it would be a major advantage.

    Elevate Direct – The Contractor Recruiting Solution for Startups

    The technology now exists to enable CEO’s of small businesses looking to hire skilled contractors to do so on their own terms.  Elevate Direct is a new web based platform with no upfront costs, where businesses can get their jobs matched against suitable contractors. The system automatically shortlists suitable candidates so employers can engage with them directly. Companies such as Tandem Systems, SQA Consulting, Eteach and Photobox have all used Elevate Direct to hire the perfect contractor.

    By automating the search for contractors for you, very little time needs to be invested on your side. Once you log into the system and place a job, it compares your requirements against thousands of contractor’s profiles and gives you an instant shortlist. The shortlist is based on their day rate, availability, skills, experience and it even factors in cultural match, based on the career path of the contractor.  This aspect of the system saves business owners hours searching for and sifting through CV’s

    In addition to finding the candidates, the platform can also process the back-office payrolling, time-sheeting and invoicing, ensuring your recruitment cycle is a smooth ride from start to finish.  While we mentioned earlier the margins recruitment agencies can make on a contractor’s day rate, by using technology to automate the process, Elevate Direct users only pay a 5-6% markup instead. As a rough example, If you’re looking to hire someone at a rate of around £400-£450 a day, by using Elevate Direct you would be saving almost a £1000 a month in fees compared to hiring the same contractor via an agency.

    In a super competitive world where having the right talent makes all the difference, a Startup or SME’s can’t afford to lose out on time or money.  Elevate Direct’s efficient automated platform saves you from dealing with costly agencies and streamlines the administrative hassle of hiring contractors directly.