Is interim recruitment the same as hiring a contractor?

5 min

When businesses look for recruitment services to help overcome their immediate internal skil...

When businesses look for recruitment services to help overcome their immediate internal skills gaps and lack of talent resources, many need help finding a solution best suited to their needs. However, many don't realise that support to assist with temporary staff shortages exists, regardless of the company size. This instantaneous support comes in the form of contract and interim recruitment. But what does this mean? Is interim recruitment the same as hiring a contractor?

In this blog, we will answer this question and help you understand why you should consider hiring a contractor or interim employee.

What’s the difference between contractors and interim staff?

Although contractors share many similarities to interim employees, especially in how they can benefit your business, there is a key way of distinguishing the difference between an interim hire and a contractor.

Interim staff are typically brought in to cover managerial and senior positions, whereas contractors are commonly acquired for the specific skills they can bring to a project. 

When you outsource your project work to a contractor or hire interim staff to support your senior management shortages, the contract employee or interim manager will work not for but on behalf of your business. As neither are official employees, you are not required to provide them with annual leave pay, sick pay, national insurance, and any company benefits your permanent employees would receive. Aspects like taxes would be covered by the individual you acquire or from the company where your contractor or interim hire was sourced. 

Let’s explore more about the criteria that separate the two.

What is contract recruitment?

Contract recruitment solutions allow businesses to take on a contractor to fill a specific skills gap within a team, support projects and assignments where further headcount is needed, assist through a busy period, or cover absences within the organisation. 

A contract employee will be sourced by a contract recruitment agency or a company's internal talent acquisition team and will lend their services to the business for the duration of the fixed-term contract. At the end of the fixed-term agreement, the company could put the contractor on a rolling engagement and utilise their services on a frequent basis. 

What is interim recruitment? 

Interim recruitment services are similar to contract recruitment because you're bringing a highly-skilled professional into your business. Although interim managers are brought in for their niche expertise, they are also hired to manage a team or project from start to finish. 

Similarly to hiring a contractor, an interim hire can be made through the support of a recruitment agency or an internal hiring team. Businesses typically acquire the services of an interim manager to assist with overseeing increased workloads, fill an interim departure at a senior level, or support an existing management team. 

For example, they could be acquired during a digital transformation project. Here, they could assess the current skills, teams, channels and strategies a business uses and plan ways to help them achieve their goals more effectively. They may not necessarily manage an existing team but could help build new ones. Ultimately, the role is much more advisory due to their wealth of expertise in running change programmes, which the business may not have internally.

Why should you consider hiring a contractor or interim employee?

Now we've established the difference between interim and contract recruitment, the next important question around hiring a contractor or interim employee is, why should you consider hiring a contractor or interim employee? To answer this question and help you better determine if a contract employee or interim staff would help you overcome your recruitment challenges, we've created a list of five reasons why you should utilise the services of contractors and interim managers.

Although there are ways to differentiate contractors and interim employees, the benefits they can bring to your business to support your hiring needs are interchangeable. So, let's explore these five benefits and show you why you should consider hiring a contractor or interim employee.

1. Contractors and interim staff can cover absences

In today's world of work, it is more common and acceptable for employees to request time off, regardless of their level. From maternity and paternity leave to taking time off due to illness or sabbaticals, absences within your team can and inevitably will happen. But, of course, if you have projects to complete and clients to support, these absences can't hinder or stop you from running your business.

Thankfully contractors and interim hires can be the solution you need to help cover absences within your team. For example, suppose one of your trusted Business Analysts was off sick, but you knew they were due to return within a set timeframe. In that case, you could hire a contractor to fill the temporary skills gap within your business until your permanent employee returns from their absence.

Similarly, suppose your Senior Marketing Manager was going on maternity leave, but you intended to keep them on permanently when they were ready to return. In this scenario, you could hire an interim Marketing Manager to cover the absence period, allowing your campaigns and strategies to continue without setbacks.  

2. An interim hire and contractor can make an immediate impact

Contractors and interim staff are experienced professionals and know the ins and outs of their specialist industry. They will have worked for many companies like yours, often starting out as permanent employees, and provided their services on projects and assignments similar to the ones you need their support with completing. Essentially, they won't be a stranger to your industry and the work you require of them, meaning they can immediately impact your business. 

Unlike when you make a permanent hire, where onboarding and further training is often needed to get the employee up to scratch, a contractor will already have the specific skill set you require, enabling them to get straight to work. Likewise, an interim manager will have seen it all before and know what's expected of them before they come to support your business. 

Interim managers and highly-skilled contract workers are perfect for your business if you need someone to drive instant results. For example, let's say you're about to start a project, but your other senior talent is dealing with other assignments. Here, an interim manager can take over for the time you require their services to get the project off the ground and provide support until completion. Again, a contractor can provide their credentials where your team lacks the skills, allowing your business to take on more work at short notice without the fear of standards slipping. 

3. Contract workers and interim staff are industry experts

As mentioned in the previous point, contractors and interim professionals have a wealth of experience and can handle any project or assignment. Their expertise can go a long way in supporting your business while shaping your future operations. 

For example, suppose your digital content team didn't have the skills to complete a niche project your business had been approached to take on. In that case, a contractor within this space could join your business and share their expertise with your current staff. So, not only can your business now take on this project, but your existing people can learn from the industry expert and use their newfound knowledge to support your business in future projects. 

Alternatively, you may have the skills within your business to complete a project surrounding the development of a new product. Still, you're hesitant to proceed with the work due to limited leadership to oversee the assignment. In that case, you could hire an interim Product Manager to lead your team through the project, providing their industry knowledge while adding a fresh perspective on how you could run future projects. 

4. Hiring a contractor or interim hire is less of a commitment 

Another reason you should consider hiring a contractor or interim manager is that they are less of a commitment than a permanent employee. As we touched upon, contractors work on fixed-term contracts, while interim staff are hired to oversee the duration of a project. Therefore, you can commit to a deal that works best for your business and utilise their services for the exact time you need them, allowing you to manage your budget better, control workloads efficiently and set realistic client expectations. 

If you know your business will need support filling a skills gap for a project that will last three months, for example. Then you can hire a contractor for the three months you require their services. Or, if you need assistance managing your employees within a specific department while a senior manager is on maternity, you can commit to hiring an interim manager until they return to work.  

Additionally, instead of committing to a permanent staff member, who could turn out to be the wrong fit for your business, you can utilise the services of an interim employee or contractor as a trial run. If they fail to hit the ground running, it's less risky because you will have only committed to a fixed-term or shorter contract duration. Also, the process of replacing this type of talent is often quicker and easier. 

Of course, contractors and interim professionals are highly-skilled and experienced individuals. So, if you work with the right recruitment agency, like 3Search, you can rest assured your contractor or interim hire will be worth the commitment.

5. Interim and contract recruitment is cost-effective

Our final point why you should consider hiring a contractor or interim professional revolves around the cost-effectiveness of the recruitment process. Contract and interim hires are fantastic solutions from both a monetary and time perspective.

Regarding the financial aspect, when you hire a contractor or interim manager, you will only pay for the time you require their services - rather than paying them a salary. Additionally, you don't have to factor in the costs of income taxes, employee insurance, equipment needed for the job, working space, additional training and other employee benefits like sick pay and holiday pay. Therefore, you can manage your finances better and commit to what you can afford without overspending on resources.

From a time perspective, interim and contract recruitment quickly solves your hiring challenges at short notice. Not only will a recruitment agency have a network of contractors and interim talent they can call upon to support your staffing shortages, but these individuals will be able to support your business almost instantly, as they manage their schedules and won't have to give notice to an employer. 

Need help with contract and interim recruitment?

Now you understand the differences between hiring a contractor and interim recruitment and the benefits they can bring to your business, let us help you with the next steps to solving your immediate hiring challenges. If you need to fill a skills gap within your company or require temporary assistance on your next project, our team has access to the talent that can help. 

At 3Search, we can help take your business to new heights. Take a look at our contract recruitment offering or get in touch with a member of the team today.

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