Why Wait?

You have an IT project to get done. You know it has to get done. It can’t wait any longer…or can it? You’ll need to figure out who in the department can get it done and still do the regular day-to-day tasks. You’ll have to figure out the time line for completing the project. Will your current staff have the expertise it takes to get ‘er done while adhering to the aforementioned time line? Upper management might tell you to hold off. Times are tough, right? Sales is down and money is not easy to come by. How do you justify getting the project done now? Let the boss know that you can get well-qualified help and save money on bill rates if you get it done now versus waiting.

Variable cost is one solution to the problem. You spend money now and make up the savings over time.

a contractor costs $65/hr x 3months (480hrs) = $31200.00 (total burden).
permanent hire, same qualifications – $77k plus benefits per year, don’t forget unemployment insurance, taxes, cost of posting ad, sifting through 25-50 resumes, 10-15 phone screens, 5-10 first interviews, 3-5 second interviews and the cost of the staff, from HR to the IT Team, taking time out to do that screening.

All you’re trying to do is get a project done, will you need the person long-term? How do you justify that to the boss? Contract-to-hire may be a good way to assess the need.

Another cost-saving consideration is the economy. Consider the scenario above. A 3month project, and people are willing to take less pay. Does that mean the person has depreciated or lost skills? No way.

a contractor costs $65 60/hr (saving $5/hr) x 3months (480hrs) = $31200.00 $28800.00(total burden). That’s almost $3000.00, and they’re better qualified because not everyone is hiring great people right now!

That’s almost 10% savings if you do it now rather than wait, AND the better qualified person is available now. In one year that person may not only be at a higher cost, but they may not even be available for project/contract work. In a year you’ll end up settling for someone at a higher rate and less experience. That’s no good.

Yes, it’s tough. Everyone knows it, but save the money now when it comes to IT projects. It will benefit you and your organization. We’re in business to earn money, and sometimes we don’t know how to take advantage in a down economy. This is just one way.

What does ASAP mean to you?

Staffing firms can have a different concept of time than clients. We typically interview 10 to 20 IT candidates a week with all different types of skills and experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean we interview 10-20 .NET developers or 10-20 help desk analysts. Each person is different. Ten percent of those candidates are exceptional. Exceptional is having a great, marketable, skill set, good experience, and someone that can be of value to a company. They can actually save time or money for a client. These people do not hang around on the market forever. Many can be registered with multiple staffing firms to ensure they’re covering ground. These folks may not be as networked as some of the heavy hitters. A ‘heavy hitter’ could have offers in one day from multiple sources and usually doesn’t need a firm to help them find something. Many candidates have many irons in the fire. They are continuing their search even after they’ve registered with a firm, most encourage this. Why? Putting the burden on one firm can weigh heavy on a recruiter that doesn’t deliver. After all, firms are just an additional resource, not a be all end all. I have seen people get jobs because a client drags feet on making a decision. It happens, and it sets the whole process that lead up to the ‘yes, we’d like jane/john to start’ backwards.

We typically ask ‘how soon do you need someone in the role?’ This gives us a sense of urgency. You can’t imagine how many IT managers will say ASAP. ASAP has meant as soon as possible to me for as long as I can remember. It’s not until I ask if we have the right person can they start at 8am tomorrow morning do I find out what ASAP means.

IT Staffing Today

I make hundreds of calls a week. It’s part of my job. When I started with the firm I work for the purpose was to inform companies that we have highly qualified IT professionals that can help them with their IT projects. It is still the same game, but our approach is different.  Hiring is frozen, and everything seems to be on hold. That’s what they tell me. The fact is, companies are doing business and they still need to get things done. Unfortanate layoffs occur, but there are still ways to get things done with a cost-effective approach.

When I was just getting started with IT, circa 1996, many businesses saw IT as a liability. It was a black hole expense and they didn’t have ways to measure it’s ROI. Now, they have tools that can meausure call loads, experience project managers that know how long it takes to program and develop software that has ultimately become the back bone of operating organizations throughout the world. These applications and wired infrastructures can not go down and stop working. If they stop working, the flow of information stops working, and you can’t survive as a business if this happens. You have lower head count, and business isn’t what it was 3 yeas ago, but you still rely on that information. This is where CFO’s, CIO’s, CTO’s, and middle management needs to be aware of alternatives to keeping the flow of info alive within their organizaiton, and keep it going without a huge burden on current expenditures.

One way to keep cost low, but still get projects done is staffing. Surprise! Many companies equate staffing firms with hiring, which in turn leads to head count, which leads to expense. So instead of relying on people like me to help them, they turn to service providers within the IT sector. They outsource their IT, but end up paying almost double for it. They’ll hire a firm to configure their existing routers and switches. This could be because they have an IT person but need the expertise, or they simply don’t have the IT perosn on staff. Some IT service providers can charge $135-150 an hour for a person to come in and do the job. When you go this route you have to pay for the company and it’s burden, whether they have the consultant generating revenue or not. Essentially they are making up for lack of work in the past or lack of work in the future. Charge more and it all balances out. Now there’s times this model comes in hand, I’ll get to that. But what if you could hire just the person. You just need the knowledge and don’t want to pay for what you don’t need.

Enter staffing firm. We work with these people on a daily basis. Our particular model is to work with people between jobs, and we don’t have as much overhead as the previous example. You pay for the person to help. So a network administrator or engineer can run $65-80 an hour! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do those numbers and see the benefit. What’s the big difference? Well, the candidate doesn’t get paid until they’re on the job, so they’re not overhead for us. It only takes 1-2 people to really manage that one person within the staffing firm and we’re spread across a few people. Simply put, our business model is different. You can equate this to websites and application development as well. Go to a website firm and ask how much a basic site will cost and how your company will be able to manage it.

I mentioned there are times that solution houses work better. There’s pros and cons to everything. One big reason to go with a software house or solution provider is because they can do the team thing. They can bring in a team of people to listen to you and provide quotes and guarantees that an individual/staffing firm simply can’t. Many firms can’t guarantee timelines and refund money or eat the cost of going over budget. You can’t have an employee return a paycheck or reimburse the company if they don’t finish their work on time, right? It also comes downt to control. If you want to relinquish control and have the finished product brought back to you when it’s done, and you don’t care how it’s done, then the house route is the way to go. Staffing is when you want the employee without adding head count and the flexibility to cut them loose when budget gets used up or the project is completed, or you want them to tackle more.

This is the big picture, and I think you get it. The question is, who won’t know that they have other avenues that they can use to get the help they need and still save money?

Contract Work

You know, I haven’t been doing staffing since the dawn of time. Sorry. I do know IT professionals that have done contract work in the past, and they may know this better than I. This first part is more of my own speculation…

There may have been a time in the past where people sat at a table and tried to determine the scope, and lenght, of a project. Terms were discussed and agreed upon. We’re going to need someone for 6 months; if we don’t, well we’ll compensate accordingly.

It’s not like that any more.

Nowadays contract work is just the IT staffing word for temporary, or temp, work. It’s project based. Huh? A client has a need for someone with a specific skill set, but it’s only for a project.

Client: We have two websites that need to go live by mid October and we’re way behind. We need someone with 3+ years of experience working with php and mysql to help us out with the work load.

Firm: No problem, we have Sue available. She’s done work like this in the past, is between jobs, and is immediately available to start tomorrow. Based on her qualifications the hourly rate for her expertise is ‘x’ dollars an hour. She’ll be there at 8am tomorrow.

Client: Sounds good.

Yeah, right. Anyone can tell you that it rarely happens that way, but it’s supposed to.

The client has a need, and it’s temporary. They have a tentative timeline in mind. They also know the scope of the project and the skills they need to help them get the job done. They don’t have time to post a job description, wade through 10-30 resumes, have their HR department do phone screens, set up face to face interviews, 2nd face to face interviews, draw up an offer, and hire the person. Not in this situation. That’s why they want, or could use, a staffing firm.

The candidate could use one to find a job. You’re more employable when you’re working. Firms can also help provide opportunities quickly. It’s not always an overnight turn around, but when a request comes through, they want the best qualified to handle the position, and sometimes it’s the person that can answer the phone and be there tomorrow. Right? It gets you a legitimate job with an hourly wage, it allows you to add to your resume, and can even get you a job without having to send out 50 resumes, 10 phone screens, 5 face to face interviews, and 2 second face to face interviews. Seriously? People would say, “no, I am wanting to see if the position comes through. I interviewed 2 weeks ago, and there is one more if I’m chosen, and then they’d want me to start.” How long of time is that? Besides, staffing firms can get you in to places that may not know exist. You want to work for ABC Company? Well, the only way is through the firm they use. It happens. You also earn a competitive wage, and benefits. Yes, most firms actually provide benefits to include bonus incentives, holiday pay, 401K, health, dental, vision, and life insurance! Times have changed and firms have to stay competitive, and bennies is just one way to attract talent.

The firms role is to provide a service to the cient, and also the candidate. Just keep in mind, the firm typically already has things in place before the candidate is presented with the opportunity.  In the end it’s a service to the client. Afterall, you don’t provide a service to those that don’t pay you for it. Many candidates think they’re making the firm money. Obviously there’s a mutual understanding, but you’re not working for free, right? I’d love to have 50 people sitting around just so I could have them go out and tackle projects. I’d have to change my title since I wouldn’t have to recruit. I’d also be considered more of a solution provider than a staffing firm.

Do all firms place every single person that they meet? No they don’t. Like a direct hire position there are plenty of reasons why someone would not get a job through a firm. A job with your skill set may not be available, you may not be qualified, or there’s someone else available that is more qualified to do the job. Sometimes it has to do with a variety of factors that are usually outlined by the candidate. Pay, location/distance to client’s location, work environment, or ‘fit’, are just some that would come in to play when determining someone for a job.

Some of the aforementioned reasons for not getting a job make sense, but what’s this ‘fit’ thing? I have worked with people that are awesome programmers. Highly intelligent, and very, very, good at software development. They can implement solutions that are truly impressive. However, they may not be the best one to stand up in front of high level management on a weekly basis and provide process analysis reports on the project’s status. This is just one example. And it works both ways. I have candidates that don’t want to interact with customers, so a web developer that has to meet with client-customers in order to obtain address their web needs is not the ideal role for the consultant. Could they do it? Sure, but would the job be ideal? No. Grumpy people don’t make great help desk representatives.

Hopefully this gives you some insight on what contract work is. It’s temporary work for IT professionals. It’s a project that a client needs help with.