Your simple guide to hiring contractors

Your simple guide to hiring contractors

You may not have hired a contractor before, you may have joined a new company and are unsure of their processes, or you may be experienced in hiring contractors but just want to check out the latest best practices.

Contractors can supplement your hiring strategy by providing flexible resources you can't find on a permanent basis, reducing hiring timescales, providing deep specialist skills and covering for unexpected staff departures.

Budget and sign off

Have you got the budget available and signed off to bring in a contractor as opposed to a permanent resource? It is recommended that the hiring manager put a business case forward to the relevant internal stakeholders and have it approved (including by the relevant finance team).

Know what you are looking for

Developing a comprehensive person requirement is essential for success. In addition to skills and experience, there will be specific outcomes that need to be delivered. Are they remunerated on a time and material basis, on an hourly rate or outcome-driven based on milestones and delivery under a statement of work?

This needs to be agreed upon and captured in a job brief to include the services to be delivered.


The rapid speed of hire is a significant benefit for hiring contractors as the contract market is much faster than that for permanent hires. Typically, gathering the requirement to interview and onboarding can take anywhere between two to four weeks when you can have someone on the team which would be impossible with a permanent hire.

Specialist skills

Contractors will have deep skills in specific areas and will have a track record of delivery in other organisations and are able to hit the ground running. These skills may be needed on a project basis, where they are not needed long-term.

Asking difficult questions

Another thing contractors will do is ask difficult questions of stakeholders. Having significant experience with other organisations, contractors usually will question processes, practices or ways of doing things where they can see improvements.

A permanent hire will often be reluctant to challenge people within the organisation (especially when senior in nature) whereas a contractor or external consultant will not have those risk factors and they are seasoned enough to know how to approach the situation.

Compliance considerations

Depending on where the work needs to be delivered or where the client is located, the consultant can deliver some real benefits for the organisation. For example, someone who is outside the scope of IR35 for the UK, or the contractor is delivering for a customer who is based in a different country (which works really well if you can't find the skills in your country fast enough).

Effective onboarding

Ensure you have the resources and time internally to manage the onboarding. If the person comes on board between 2 to 4 weeks have you got the tools, equipment and work ready for them on day one? Is there an onboarding plan including the stakeholders that they need to work with in place and ready? Do they need any secure equipment? (eg a secure VPN for remote working). Having this in place will make sure they are productive and contributing in no time.

Time and invoicing

You will also need a system for capturing the contractor's effort and remunerating the individual efficiently. This could be on a time and materials or milestone-based approach and can be via manual spreadsheets or more commonly by one of the many online-based timesheet applications.

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