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Revealed: What contractors want in a recruiter

In a survey by Parasol,  which provides employment services to professional contractors and freelancers, 38% of 360 respondents named  responsiveness as the number-one quality they look for in a recruitment consultant.

The ability to offer a personal service also ranked highly with 19% , along with a good network of contacts (18%). Sector knowledge and expertise was cited as the most valuable recruiter trait by 17% of Parasol contractor employees.

As Parasol’s Contractor Barometer May 2014 report states: “For recruiters, the key to being seen as an invaluable ally by a contractor is to respond quickly and efficiently to his or her calls and emails.”

The survey found that almost three quarters (74%) of Parasol contractor employees feel well placed to address national skill shortages in their field.

A majority of contractors working in sectors widely thought to be worst affected by the skills crisis – such as engineering, IT and digital media – believe their expertise and experience will be of use to clients struggling to recruit permanent employees with the right skills.  

However, according to Parasol’s findings this sentiment is most pronounced amongst contractors specialising in legal and insurance services (80%), sales and marketing (80%) and project management (78%).

Parasol managing director Derek Kelly said: “Our research suggests that the skills shortage could be more widespread than previously thought, spanning professional services and the creative industries as well as IT and engineering.  

“While this is a cause for concern for employers and UK PLC as a whole, it undoubtedly represents an opportunity for members of the professional flexible workforce.

“As our report states, if recruitment agencies and their clients are unable to source permanent staff members with the necessary skills or experience, then contractors offer a short-term solution.”

As highlighted in this  infographic, Parasol’s research also reveals that:

89% of contractors feel positive about their career prospects

92% say their confidence levels have either improved or stayed the same over the past year

82% plan on contracting for the long term

27% cited earnings potential as the single biggest motivating factor in their decision to become a contractor

31% view a workplace pension as either very import or fairly important to them

“Our survey results show that, as economic conditions improve, optimism is returning to the UK’s contracting and freelancing community”, said Kelly.

“In terms of current confidence levels, project managers, healthcare professionals and those with expertise in finance and banking top the league table. This indicates strong demand for contractors working in these fields – a trend that is likely to continue as the economic recovery gathers pace.

“An analysis of shifts in sentiment over the past 12 months reveals that IT, engineering and digital / creative contractors have shown the most dramatic improvement in confidence levels.”

In terms of a regional analysis, taking into account overall confidence levels and shifts in sentiment over the past year, the research shows that contractors working in the West Midlands are the most optimistic in the UK.

“With sales of new cars in the UK rising at the fastest rate for a decade, and British manufacturing firms at their most optimistic since the 1970s, it seems the manufacturing heartland that is the West Midlands is reaping the benefits – and that contractors working in the region are in turn experiencing an improvement in their fortunes”, added Kelly.

&middot         Click here to download Parasol’s Contractor Barometer May 2014 report (

&middot         Click here to view and share the accompanying infographic: Working as a contractor in 2014 (


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