One of the most common themes heard by Recruiters at TDK Technologies (TDK) is “I am only considering permanent opportunities”. The reality is that in today’s job market, there are numerous employment models to consider. Limiting yourself to just one closes the door to potentially rewarding opportunities.

“As we see that happening, we adjust our hiring and recruiting strategy to accommodate. For example, we stay away from the word ‘permanent’. We talk in terms of traditional versus non-traditional,” said Bill Courtney, Director of Recruiting at TDK.

Surveys that continue to show Information Technology (IT) as one of the “hot” employment sectors also confirm the trend toward non-traditional employment arrangements. A CareerBuilder survey found IT is above the national average (75 percent  compared to 51 percent) of employers who use temporary workers. The same survey found the number of temporary software and application developer positions will increase seven percent by the year 2020. 

“Often when I talk to candidates, depending upon their experience, they say they are looking for a permanent position because they equate that with stability. But that isn’t necessarily true. People get laid off or let go from permanent positions. Then they have to start their own search from scratch. They don’t think about all of their options, and instead want to go after another permanent job,” said Colette Dodson, TDK Technical Recruiter. “When a consulting assignment ends, there is a team working to find that next assignment, rather than the individual having to do it all on their own.”

Staff Augmentation: Non-Traditional Employment

Consulting is a term often used synonymously for contracting, staffing, and even temporary work. These all fall under the non-traditional employment arrangement commonly referred to as staff augmentation, which permits companies to add to their existing teams based on the additional skills required to support their initiatives. Employment service iHire noted such arrangements "can potentially benefit both parties – businesses are able to engage highly skilled professionals at a lower rate than if they were permanent employees and contingent workers enjoy far more freedom, earning lucrative pay without being tied down long term". 

  • The arrangement can be based on a specific project or can serve as a long-term model where the consultant works as an extension of a company’s own full-time employees (FTEs).
  •  The duration can be short term in nature (generally 12 months or less), may be subject to tenure limits (ranging from 18 months to 36 months), or may be open-ended with no specific time frame.
  • The vast majority of staff augmentation roles involve the company’s ability to convert the consultant to full-time employment. This is also known as ‘right to hire’, which allows both parties the opportunity to make sure there is a mutual fit for long-term employment.
    • Companies are not obligated to extend an offer to the consultant.
    • Consultants are not obligated to accept a fulltime position should it be offered.

The Appeal of Right to Hire

Right to hire can be a practical economic choice allowing companies to spread payment terms over a period of time (usually 3-6 months) compared to a one-time placement fee that is typically 20-25 percent of the candidate’s first year salary.

“There has been a recent trend toward the right to hire model,” Courtney said. “It’s hard to find a good candidate; someone who is both a skill and culture match. So companies will utilize a firm like TDK to find top talent and bring them on under a right to hire arrangement.  That gives both the candidate and the hiring firm the opportunity to make sure it’s a good match before making that ‘permanent’ commitment.”

“Companies in the past would pay huge fees for permanent placement, where now they get the best of both worlds. If companies get that person in the door and see if they are a good fit for a shorter duration, the expense overall to find good talent is going to decrease,” Dodson said.

An example where right to hire works especially well is in the case of Java developers, one of the most highly sought skill-sets in IT.

“If you have a Java developer that you bring on as a consultant, and they are a rock star, are you going to risk that person leaving? You will want to lock them down. That’s why we are seeing a lot of right to hire positions. Attracting and retaining top talent is critical to our clients’ success,” Courtney said.

Long Term Implications

Longevity is also possible in a straight contracting role. Individual company hiring practices often dictate that certain positions will remain in the consulting category, but the same person may retain the position over time. Those possibilities arise from thoroughly understanding the stability and track record of the client and also understanding the desires of the candidate.

“We have a consultant who has been at one of our clients for seven years. He’ll probably be there for another seven. And he’ll probably never be a permanent employee, because they limit the number of FTEs. When they add, they add consultants. He could be there forever; it’s just that client’s model,” Dodson said.

From an employment perspective, most would define stability as ‘peace of mind’; peace of mind to know their job will be there in the morning, and the morning after; peace of mind in knowing that on the 1st and 15th the bank account will be credited their semi-monthly wage; and peace of mind to know that if they want a new opportunity, they’ll be able to pursue it on their terms. So how do we get that peace of mind and create stability? Ultimately, there are three major points to consider when it comes to stability in our industry.

  • First, do you have a skill set that is in demand? Prime examples would be Java and .NET development. A quick search on Indeed.com will bring up dozens of local opportunities and any developer with a Linkedin.com account can surely attest to the amount of interest their profile generates. Conversely, if you have a skill set in Pick Basic or Visual FoxPro development… well, you are probably finding few opportunities out there.
  • Secondly, are you good at what you do and do you get along with your co-workers? You can have nine years of experience with Java on your resume but if your skills fall short, or if you cannot co-exist with others, it will be difficult to have any longevity. On the other hand, if your skills are good, you work at keeping them current and get along with others, there will be considerable demand for your skills.
  • Finally, what is the financial viability of the company you are going to work for and how do they plan on employing you? Is the company financially stable? Are they prone to wild swings in employment? Is the company a prime target for acquisition? Is a ‘permanent’ role with a financially struggling mid-sized company more stable than an open-ended staff augmentation role with a strong market position?

Why Some Candidates Prefer Frequent Change

On the other hand, not all candidates are primarily interested in long term employment. Sometimes there are opportunities for exposure to cutting edge technologies that may enhance career development with a short term position.

“Some people want exposure. They are willing to take non-traditional employment to get that exposure,” Courtney said.

Many employers are looking for candidates with a variety of experience in different environments and not necessarily someone who has been a long-time employee at one company. They are looking for someone who can quickly go from one environment to another, from one industry to another, from one platform to another. That can benefit a candidate who has been in several previous positions for a handful of years rather than a candidate who has been at one place for a long period of time.

“Millennials actually prefer to be able to go in, do a job, and then go on to something else. Knowing that, we can educate the client and tell them the candidate will do good work for you, but they have to be on the cutting edge,” Dodson said.

Opportunities Abound with an Open Mind

There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution. But the next time you are considering new opportunities, keep an open mind regarding the various options and forms of employment. Amazing career opportunities come in all shapes and sizes in today’s new economy. When candidates only consider traditional employment opportunities, they are limiting opportunities to a few conversations, and not necessarily the best or the most stable options.

“When it comes to traditional versus non-traditional, it comes down to understanding what your candidate is looking for, and then looking at your client base to see if they’ll offer that consideration. Courtney said. “It’s all about education and knocking down walls of perception. When you talk to candidates in those terms, most people understand.”

“We talk to candidates about whether they have a skill set that’s in demand and if they are ‘the best of the best’. Because if they are, and there are lay-offs, the client probably won’t let you go,” Dodson said.  “Very few clients will let good talent walk out the door. If the talent is good and they can create value right away, their job is secure whether they are a consultant, a right to hire, or a permanent hire.”

If you'd like to discuss your particular situation and assess what employment opportunities best fit your needs, contact TDK Technologies at jobs@tdktech.com or 636.778.1404.

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