'Experience ramp' could help contractors overcome recruiters' prejudices

I’d like to share with you the prejudice I experienced from a recruitment company I recently engaged to help find me a suitable permanent job after a decade working as a contractor following redundancy from previous full time posts.

I thought 10 years’ contracting experience would bring added value to a company who appreciated drive and initiative. The recruitment agency insisted it understood a person’s situation changes, and their clients welcomed candidates from both employment backgrounds. I decided to place my trust and submit my CV.

A few days passed and I received a response. “Sorry, but the client is only reviewing candidates with a perm-history work background,” it said.

I was shocked, but I was more annoyed and frustrated.

These days it is difficult for contractors like me, and we face adversity from recruiters worldwide because we simply don’t tick the box. Whatever happened to equal treatment? Perhaps it is the perception, or maybe companies need to be educated.

Contractors have many reasons for moving from temporary work to a permanent role. Some want greater job security and to maintain stakeholder relationships past delivery. Others want to develop their career and the chance to strengthen weaker areas by being exposed to new challenges. Contracting helped me gain wider experience, but some recruiters believe contractors lack commitment.

I propose a solution to overcome these challenges and help bridge the gap. The risk-free ‘experience ramp’.

This would provide both sides the opportunity to trial working with each other. A role could be offered on an agreed yet affordable pay rate over a period of 11 months.

This would give the candidate adequate time to understand how the business works, align their work to the strategic objective and deliver what is required. Contractors are known for being able to hit the ground running and thrive on working in collaboration with others to achieve a common goal.

During this period the candidate will be able to showcase their abilities by bringing a fresh pair of eyes gained from exposure to different methods and models used by other industries and sectors. This will add value to the business by sharing knowledge with other colleagues in the team, which in turn helps develop others.

An 11-month contract will benefit the employer and the candidate, while mitigating against any potential commitment risks the employer might have. To monitor candidate performance, KPIs can be agreed to measure on deliverables gained from 360 feedback with tracked results.

Should the candidate perform well with support from the business, they should be offered a permanent position with a salary and benefits equal to everyone else.

I’d love to hear if other readers have experienced the same prejudice, and any thoughts on my proposal.

Samantha Coombs is a procurement consultant

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