Freelance contracting has traditionally operated as a three-way model with a recruitment agency sitting between the client organisation and the contractor. Increasingly, though, this model is being questioned by enlightened parties from both ends, with the role of the intermediary agency being challenged by a disruptive start-up and called into question.
From the client company perspective, recruitment is increasingly being undertaken in-house, with HR departments being expanded to cover the functions previously provided by recruitment agencies, often resulting in extravagant net cost savings to the employer. The corollary of this is that, when a requirement arises for a contract resource, such companies are no longer used to just picking up the phone and calling an agency, simply because they no longer use agencies! Influenced by the cost savings that they have achieved by bypassing agencies in the field of general recruitment, they naturally seek to utilise their internal recruitment infrastructure when it comes to the procurement of contract staff too.
From the contractor perspective too, recruitment agency involvement in the process has typically been seen as a necessary evil, reducing the daily rate available to the contractor for very little perceived benefit. In fact, contracting directly with clients can be seen as a purer form of freelancing, since the contractor can build up a portfolio of his or her own clients, which in turn has the benefit of improving a Contractor’s status outside of HMRC’s IR35.
So, with more employers looking to procure and administer their contract staff directly, and with both parties keen to remove the agency margin from the equation (which should translate to a cost saving for the employer and a higher daily rate for the contractor), why are so few contractors achieving the holy grail of direct contracting?
By far and away, the biggest single reason is the difficulty faced by the contractor in systematically unearthing genuine direct contract requirements in the first place, for which they can put themselves forward; the majority of contracts are still being offered by agencies, and it is often hard to tell an agency role from a direct one. To make things even harder for the contractor, many opportunities that are described as “contracts” on the job boards turn out to be, after much closer examination, offers of fixed-term employment, or even permanent employment “contracts” and not freelance contracts at all. Sorting the wheat from the chaff is very time consuming for the contractor, and in all likelihood the agency gets the business again, by default, when it comes to signing the next contract.
In the IT sector, though, there is some very good news for the contractor. The game is finally changing, and Contract Spy is dedicated to making it much easier for IT Contractors to go agency-free.
For the first time, a real-time database of verified direct contract opportunities is being made available in a simple and easy-to-use format, giving the IT contractor access to all the latest direct contract opportunities with no agency involvement whatsoever.
The service is offered on a subscription, cancel at any time model, as is best-suited to Contractors engaged in short periods of intensive contract hunting.