The Holler Pod  – Episode 5 – Breaking the Contractor Myth 

Welcome to the fifth episode of the Holler Pod, Podcast, by Searchability! After an incredibly busy few months, we’re back to record Episode 5. Here you see Dave Henderson, Recruitment Manager and James Gambino Contracts Manager. Discussing and breaking the contractor myths alongside ex-contract Recruiter and host Olly Preston.

Read and listen as we aim to shoot down (or bust) some of those classic “contractor myths” and also provide a little guidance to candidates out there who are looking to get into the contract market. 

If we spill the beans a little, this pod was thrown together a little last minute. We’re all big football fans based in Chester and we’ve all been caught up in local Non league side Wrexham FCs promotion push as we’ve a lot of Wrexham fans in the office. Has there ever been a better, more relevant football casing point for short-term contractors than the heroic story of ex Manchester United goalkeeper, Ben Foster? About 8 weeks ago, disaster struck when mid promotion push, Wrexham first team goalkeeper was ruled out for the season. 

They needed a short-term, quality fix to get over the line. Step up, Mr Foster. 

  • Couldn’t afford Foster full-time
  • Paid a premium rate for that level – got premium quality 
  • Got the job done within their budget. 
  • Likely to move on at the end of the season
  • Won them the league – penalty save 

Solution: Be more like Wrexham – A sentence I never thought I’d say! Contractors have their place, particularly when you need that next level of quality to get over the line. So here are some points that we cover throughout the podcast to Bust those myths!

“Contractors are too expensive”

One we hear all the time… Of course there aren’t any upfront fees and you only pay for the work that is delivered. Once approved there is no National InsuranceI, Tax, Pensions, Training, Certifications. So if you want someone ready to go, you may see why you are paying that little bit extra as they are a premium service to come in and get the job done!

“Contractors are firefighters”

People often think that Contractors tend to be brought in once shit has already hit the fan, but as with almost everything, the prevention is better than the cure. One example Dave uses was within a huge digital agency that we work with, going through a huge scale up on their DevOps capabilities. They wanted to build the team organically with permanent employees, 10 in total, 5 SRE’s and 5 Ops heavy DevOps engineers. I recommended someone end to end (that is able to do both) to sit in the middle whilst they built this team around him to make sure that no “shit hits any fan”. Meaning they can still operate whilst building this team, a process that took almost a year in the end. Meaning they were able to start implementing whilst the team was being built in order for the process to be successful from the get go. 

“We have had our fingers burnt in the past”

This can also be the case with a Permanent hire. In fact, if this happened with a Contractor it would be much easier to deal with because of the shorter notice period and not paid fees etc.  Dave and James discuss how the contractors they work with have been tried and tested for other clients and projects, so there is a massive trustability element. Another element they can introduce if it is your first time hiring a Contractor is a working interview. This gives the employer a trial period to see what it would be like for them to work for them, if they like them then they can’t stay on.

“We have a bespoke system so it’d take a contractor too long to get up to speed”

Something we probably hear more than people would think. A lot of our clients have bespoke systems built for them that they are reluctant to train people up on, simply to let them go months later. Firstly, the thing to bear in mind is people coming from one role that they have been in for 5/10 years, have a blinkered idea of systems and ideas even though they may have worked themself up to Seniority their project range is small. Those popping from contract to contract have seen multiple systems, in multiple different sized companies across various sectors. Technically, there’s no one better than someone who has done that to work on your system. Lots of systems are based or built with a certain technology and so expertise with that technology should be enough in most cases. 

“We haven’t taken on contractors since the IR35 amendments”

Of course we never want to make this podcast about IR35, however it’s undeniable that it had a huge impact on the contracting market at the time it was ‘reformed’. It does now feel like the dust is settling and leveling out. In fact, these reforms can massively benefit a client. When the changes came around a lot of the big employers, like the big banks, did blanket inside determinations for their contractors, either because they were not making the determinations properly before hand and were a bit worried, or because they had so many contractors they didn’t have the manpower to make the determinations. However, if your company is considered a ‘small company’ i.e two of the following 3 statements are true…..

  • You have less than 50 permanent employees
  • You have an annual turnover not exceeding £10.2m.
  • You have a balance sheet total not more than £5.1m.

So what we saw was, these startups and small companies that were struggling to attract talent due to the ‘big boys’ hoovering it up, overnight, flipped on its head and because they could offer outside contracts (talk about umbrella fees, tax implications etc). With a proper determination on a role, even bigger clients can still get genuine outside roles outside and reap the benefits as they did previously. Also worth mentioning that whilst the market has settled on IR35 outside determinations, so it has on the fact that contractors that were staunchly against inside contracts have realised that as long as the day rates match up, there isn’t much difference and are happier to now do that.

“Don’t use agencies…”

If a client is able to source the right Contractors themselves then that’s great! Companies may be busy delivering on other things, have no time to filter through CVs, write and post job advertisements, take calls, etc. We do that for you! Of course there are no fees, until the right person for the job has been offered.

Advice we would give to a client looking to onboard a contractor

  • Skill Sets – Have a clear idea of what you need for this project. The more info we have on this we are able to share relevant CVs, creating a quicker turnaround. Meaning they can come in, hit the ground running and not waste your time. 
  • Budgets – Market mapping, from a contractor point of view, have a good idea of what they cost. Searchability is able to show you the market rate for someone who has an average skill set and their rate compared to more experience and [project range at a higher rate.  
  • Speed – The contracting market is a different process to permanent. There is a much smaller window of availability, shorter notice periods. Flexibility with interview processes and they can start quicker. There’s a guarantee that if you like them, 4 other people are also interested in them. 
  • Location – Can you work fully remote, if it’s not something you do already? When COVID came around there was a WFH phenomenon but in all honesty contractors have been doing it for years, with their own equipment and if you can accommodate it opens a whole country to you and talent that you would never otherwise even know about.

Stay tuned for our wrap up record, here we ask our guests to share a song that may define a particular moment in their life, relates to their market – anything really.

To watch/listen to the full podcast, you can check it out on any of these channels:



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