“I need to fill an open position as quickly as possible.”
“Our last hire wasn’t a good fit with our company culture – I don’t want to make that mistake again.”
“We need a hire with an HRIS background, but just for this three-month project.”
These are examples of conversations I’ve had recently with HR leaders – and after each of these conversations, I suggested a contract hire. For some HR teams, the suggestion to opt for a contractor rather than a permanent placement can come as a surprise. Depending on your organization’s talent needs, contract professionals can play a critical role in business success.
Today’s HR contract hires are high-performing professionals with deep expertise and sought-after skills. They’re an incredible resource for growth-minded businesses and market leaders, solving critical issues and propelling key initiatives forward.
Contractors and permanent hires can each make great contributions to an organization in different ways. However, it’s critical to understand your current hiring situation to know whether a contractor or a perm hire is the right decision. Once you have a grasp of organizational goals, you’ll have a better sense of what type of role to hire and streamline your talent acquisition process.
Hiring Contract HR Talent: When to Choose Contractors
You want to test culture fit. Predicting culture-fit can be tough: candidates may show well during the interview but fail to mesh well with the team. With a contract hire, you can test for fit and see your new hire’s work style up close. After a trial period, if it’s not working out, you can part ways without having lost significant resources on a lengthy recruitment process.
You need to fill an open position as quickly as possible without compromising hire quality. The average amount of time to fill a position for a full-time employee is 42 days, although some positions can take 2-3 months, or longer. A contract hire is fully vetted and can start immediately, often within 24 hours.
You need an HR professional with a specialized skill or background. Contractors often have expertise in one or two areas, which makes them extra attractive for employers with a need in those areas. They’ll likely need less training, too, which can save you money in the long run.
Choosing a Permanent HR Hire
This is a client or customer-facing position. In general, a full-time hire is a better choice for positions that require extensive client or customer interaction. For example, if your hire will be the primary point of contact with a customer, building rapport and trust will be key, and that’s easier to do over many months. A revolving door of new faces can be confusing and destabilizing for your client who may feel like they’re continually “starting over” with each new point of contact.
You have a thorough, involved review process. Most organizations have some kind of review process for employees, but they’ll vary in thoroughness. If you like to be very hands-on and involved, a permanent hire may be a better choice. In this case, reviews will be handled by your internal HR team. With contractors, it’s best to work with the staffing agency for any such reviews. Otherwise, the contractor is receiving treatment normally reserved for full-time employees. Crossing that line could lead to contractors expecting full-time benefits, which can add thousands of extra dollars to a company’s payroll.
You’re looking for a professional to support your company’s long-term growth. Amassing institutional knowledge and learning what makes an organization tick will take time. With a full-time hire, you’re bringing a professional on board with the shared expectation that this hire will be with your company for the long term. From day one, they’re invested in building deep ties with your organization. With time, this leads to a level of operational autonomy that may not always be possible with contractors on shorter stints.