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Employment contract types: How can recruiters help candidates choose the best one for them?

Gavin White, managing director at Autotech Recruit

As a recruiter supporting a job-hunter on their journey to finding a new role, it’s critical to make sure they have a comprehensive understanding of the employment contract options that are available to them.

Whilst many candidates will be aware of the more commonly known employment contracts, such as full-time and part-time, they should have an understanding of the lesser known ones so they can make an informed decision - and this is where recruitment companies come in. Temporary roles, for example, used to be surrounded by more negative connotations. However, many job hunters may not realise that they enable workers to gain experience in a specific industry, have a wider degree of flexibility and manage their work around their lifestyle, like studying or family commitments.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, research has found that the most popular jobs are those that offer flexibility, such as allowing employees to work remotely. Many would even argue that we’re working towards a future where the majority of workers will be working on an ad-hoc basis for businesses that require their skills, as a freelance or contract worker.

Due to the myths and stereotypes surrounding a number of employment contract types, it could be argued that candidates are afraid to opt for something different like a temporary contract. So, how do recruitment companies help candidates find the contract type that’s best for them, their career goals and their lifestyle?

We’ve broken down some of the key facts regarding contract types to help you give candidates a better understanding of what is on offer.

What contract types are on offer to candidates?

Firstly, you need to help candidates gain a concrete understanding of the contract types that are available to them.

Arguably, the most common type of contract is full-time; this tends to be 35+ hours per week with employees receiving a salary or wage, annual leave entitlement and sick pay. Part-time contracts offer a similar range of benefits but employees work fewer hours per week, allowing them to work around family commitments, another job or volunteering work.

However, some contract types aren’t as widely known;

  • Fixed-term contracts last a pre-agreed amount of time, usually for the duration of a particular project
  • Zero-hour contracts, where employees only work when their employer needs them to
  • Self-employed freelancers or contractors, that are responsible for organising their own rates
  • Temporary contracts, that are offered when a position is not likely to become permanent, but often have similar rights to contracted employees.

Whilst a full-time contract will give employees set hours, paid holiday and sick leave, a temporary contract gives them time to pursue other endeavours. Find out your candidate’s long term goals; perhaps they want to go travelling in the near future, or are they close to setting up a business of their own but want to work to have extra funds to fall back on? If so, this could be the ideal employment contract type for them.

Choosing an employment contract type based on the candidate’s sector

The popularity of certain employment contract types varies greatly between industries. For example, more than half of all freelancers in the UK work in the science and technical industries (21%), education industry (13%), arts industry (11%) and the information and communication industries (10%). Further, whilst there is an ongoing conversation around the ethics of zero-hours contracts, it’s evident that this employment type is of more value to some industries than others, in particular the accommodation, food and administration industries.

In industries such as the automotive sector, a wide variety of employment contract types are readily available. Out of the 814,000 people people currently employed across the automotive industry in the UK, we're certain that not all of these people are employed under a full time contract; a large number of these people will be employed under a temporary contract and seek support from specialist recruitment agencies to find temporary work in the industry. Tellingly, many people in the recruitment industry expect Brexit to boost the demand for contractor and temporary workers, so sectors such as automotive, IT, communications and engineering - who have already seen an influx of contingent workers - are expected to benefit, too.

Find out which employment contract type is most popular and beneficial in the sector you recruit in; if your company works to find candidates for a variety of sectors, research into the benefits of the employment contract types on offer in each sector you recruit for. This way, you’ll be able to help candidates find a position that will truly be of value to them.

Let’s debunk the myths and stigma surrounding certain employment contract types

Temporary work is often perceived as an unfavourable contract type but, despite this, it has always been a popular contract type; agency temping, fixed period, casual and seasonal work has been a way of work for the past 20 years and we should only expect to see an increase in its prevalence.

Let’s take a look at some common myths:

  • Myth - The candidate is at the employer’s beck and call

Busted - Temporary workers will work in partnership with their employer in order to negotiate an arrangement that suits both parties - that could be working set hours, set days or for the duration of a project. The employer will be open to negotiating timing and tasks - projects set for temporary workers are just as important as those in permanent roles, after all!

  • Myth - Contracting and temporary roles lead to dead end careers with no prospects

Busted - One of the biggest benefits of temporary and contracting roles is that they can allow people to gain experience in their chosen industry without being committed to the role on a permanent basis. If someone is fresh out of education, temporary working will help them learn new skills before launching their career.

  • Myth - Short term roles have a negative effect on your career development

Busted - Jumping from permanent job to job could be a concern for a potential employer, but you should reassure candidates that having a range of experience from temporary work on their CV could broaden their career prospects as they’re highlighting their skill set and adaptability. In fact, the ASA has found that 70 per cent of temporary workers have learned new skills whilst on the job.

  • Myth - Contracting roles leave you out of pocket

Busted - The truth to this is quite the opposite, as research has found that some of the top contractors in the UK are earning three times more than the average UK wage. Due to the day rates provided, contracting is often more beneficial for your bank account and your work-life balance, too.

Encourage candidates to look beyond the most popular employment contract types and ensure that they aren’t afraid to seek temporary employment if it would be a viable option for them. Work with the candidate to set out a five year career plan to assess where they want to be based on their short-term, mid-term and long-term goals, in order to determine whether a less common employment contract type could benefit them.

Looking forward, we can expect to see a wider variety of employment contract types increasing in popularity across the country. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills states that we will be a more fluid workforce by 2030, and we’ll see an increased emphasis on individual responsibility and self-management skills. This, combined with the continuous advancement of technology, means that it’s critical for candidates to continually seek ways to improve their skills and adapt to the working climate in order to thrive.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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