How to Become a Superstar of Contractor Management

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 17/10/2021
contractor management tips

The rise of demand for freelance workers has increased competition levels within contract-based recruitment agencies. In this piece, we want to help recruitment consultants to become more efficient in contractor management. We will be focusing on the retention of existing contracts and how to ensure that the acquisition of new talents results in long-term collaborations, not one-time-offs. 





Achieving Excellence in Contractor Management 

The professional landscape of recruitment agencies is historically known to be highly competitive. As independent working became a trend that’s been steadily scaling, contractor workforce recruitment specifically branched out to become its own industry.

Although this created a new market, the contractor hiring space is just as competitive. As most of the contractors are senior in terms of their skills and the permanent job market is facing a shortage of highly experienced workers, the acquisition of contractors to the agency became very expensive very quickly.

This is why recruitment agencies that work with contracted employees are focusing on retention and low turnover rates. Simply put, keeping a contractor long-term is much cheaper than replacing one after every placement. And the art of ensuring they stick around is contractor management.

What is Contractor Management?

Contractor management is taking ownership of work performed by the outsourced workforce to the clients that have hired them through your agency. This is the quickest, driest and most straightforward answer you will get upon asking to have the definition explained. We want to dig a little deeper into it.

Technically, the above-provided explanation is correct. On the other hand, it’s nowhere near as detailed as it should be: it doesn’t define any specific components attributed to the practice.

Here is what goes into contractor management:

  • matching relevant contract workers with clients that are looking for their specific skillsets;
  • taking ownership of collection and maintenance of the contractor’s documentation;
  • being the middle person between the contractor and the client in the event of performance-related issues;
  • a constant stream of communication and feedback with the contractors

Skillset for a Contractor Recruiter 

Although the above-provided list may not look like much, each of the four points can be broken into a separate set of skills. Some of them would be repeated across each of the bullet points, some would be transferable, others are identical to skills a permanent job recruiter is required to have.

To save time, repetition and explaining the differences, we have instead outlined three key stills of an outsourced workforce recruiter. Mastering these three will build a rock-solid foundation for future development.

Relationship Building

Don’t be surprised we’ve brought this skill up to the very top of the list - it is commonly treated as secondary. But at Timesheet Portal we often think differently from the rest of the industry, and that reflects in everything we do. However, we are also always happy to explain our thought processes.

In this case, our reasoning is that a recruiter can still be a high-performer even if their technical knowledge is a little shaky. On the other hand, a recruiter that excels in compliance but has no personal relationships with the contractors is more likely to damage the agency in a long run.

To put it simply, both are human - and humans are prone to error. This means that from time to time each of them will make mistakes. While the compliance-driven recruiter is likely to have a lower rate of them, he is still a weaker link. Here’s why:

When we have a relationship with someone, we are naturally more empathetic and therefore understanding of their circumstances. We are less inclined to view them as a cog in the corporate machine. When we connect to them in a human way, we get to understand their thoughts and feelings better, therefore we are more willing to forgive their errors.

So, if a recruitment manager that’s kept a close rapport with their contracts makes a mistake, it is less likely to be a big deal. The contractors, when they have a relationship with their agent, have developed trust in their goodwill and genuine attempts in helping them secure a fittable placement by getting to know them personally. Therefore, they are very likely to be forgiving of occasional hiccups here and there.

On the other hand, if the recruiter is known to deliver nothing but value, alas there is no human connection between them and the contractors, a mistake from their side won’t be taken as lightly. Even if there’s a good reason why the otherwise over-achieving contractor underperformed - the contractors won’t know nor understand the cause. They have no relationship with this person, therefore their personal circumstances don’t matter to the workers; only the result.

This is the easiest of examples where being genuinely invested in the success of your contractors is likely to keep them around for a long time. In other words, relationship building is a key skill of great contractor management. 

Attention to Details

Being capable of keeping track of details and not just the overall picture falls into categories of both, technical knowledge and relationships. There are many aspects to be addressed in recruitment, and therefore this skill is crucial for successful contractor management.

The smallest errors such as a typo in an invoice can have disastrous consequences. A single mistyped number can lead to substantial losses to your agency and even legal issues. Addressing the human side, it is likely to land a blow on the trust between you and the client/contractor and therefore negatively reflect on the relationship you have with them.

However, as we’ve already spoken above, as humans we are prone to errors. Our Recruitment software is built to minimise the need for manual data insertion, therefore lifting the weight of having to be extra vigilant and winning back the time spent typing and checking.

Adoption of automation, however, doesn’t mean the skill of being attentive to details can be dropped. It simply allows you to focus on areas that require human judgement instead of wasting time and possibly sabotaging yourself by handling repetitive tasks business intelligence can take care of.

This skill still remains vital when managing contractor and client communications, providing feedback and setting goals. To summarise, most of the attention-demanding manual tasks can be passed to automation, but this means you need to re-invest the time you win into tasks focused on human interactions.

Strong Organisational Skills

The majority of the recruiter’s role revolves around collecting information and distributing it to relevant people. From ensuring contractors’ legal documentation is up to date to keeping track of any additional expense receipts, contractor management involves a lot of work with documents.

Given high volumes of various bits of documentation that differ in nature and importance, a recruiter needs to be very organised. Similarly to how not being attentive enough can lead to serious problems, a lack of organisational skills can also have a negative impact on the agency and its relationships.

Thankfully, the time when everything was done on paper and easy to lose has been almost fully eradicated by digitalisation. However, the more modern approach of keeping spreadsheets or dedicated folders on one’s computer is outdated and not immune to documents being lost or overwritten either.

The current best-on-the-market solution is a centralised document storage platform. Most SaaS software already comes with it integrated, meaning you won’t need to adopt a separate system for just that. For example, our Recruitment product comes with a document management module that allows you to keep all records in one place to centralise contract compliance.

Again, while digital software makes organisational tasks easier, your human input will still be needed.  Scheduling calls, 1:1 meetings, feedback delivery and other processes require your direct involvement. To an extent, they can also be automated via integrations of different solutions  - but more on that in the next chapter. 

Contractor Recruitment Technology 

As you might have gathered from our quick run through essential skillsets, core responsibilities involved in contractor management can be aided by software. Due to its nature, recruitment is constantly shifting between manual data work and relationship maintenance, and striking a healthy balance is not an easy task.

This is why the market is currently filled with various technological solutions aimed at the recruitment sector specifically. Application Tracking Services (ATS), Client Relationship Management (CRM), time tracking solutions, e-signature services and many other digital aides are designed to allow you to focus on people by reducing the load of manual work.

More Integrations, Less Manual Work

We have briefly touched upon the topic of how integrations can expand your automation opportunities. The reason why we want to cover it separately is that integrations enable seamless business scaling. They allow the software you currently use to grow along with your organisation as opposed to beginning to hinder the progress as you start outgrowing the system.

So, what is integration? It is basically linking your digital solutions together to create a centralised approach to all your systems. This means that instead of manually keying data from one platform to another, you will have it all in the same place.

This is what unlocks new functionality of your digital toolset that would otherwise be unavailable. For example, by integrating an ATS with a work management system, you will have the contractor’s billing details and placement information automatically appear on both platforms by only filling it up in one.

Basically, it means you won’t have to re-insert the same data across every platform that uses it. Additionally, different solutions tend to collect different bits of information and put them together in a context that enables you to spot patterns and find new opportunities or mitigate risks.

Here’s an example: Recruitment edition will provide you with a detailed breakdown of your temp margins. But it will not analyse your overall recruitment agency performance or calculate cash flow. However, by integrating it with software that collects that data, you will have a brand new centralised view stream compiled by pulling relevant information from different workflows.

Centralised Document Storage

As previously discussed, recruitment agency workers are bound to work a lot of documentation. High volumes lead to an increased probability of errors, and mistakes can turn out very costly. To expand on a previously introduced concept of a centralised document management system, it’s worth noting that its functionality isn’t limited to storing files only.

Depending on the solution and its integrations, there may be several other functions added to the platform. For example, Timesheet Portal integrates with a document signing platform. This means that instead of exporting, signing and re-uploading a signed document, you can sign it directly on the platform.

Our system is also designed to keep track of the documentation status of your contractors. Using Timesheet Portal, you can easily spot what documents are missing, as well as keep an eye on certificate expiration dates.

Security and Data Protection

Naturally, since you work with the personal data of your contractors and clients, security and data protection measures will always be on the top of your priority list. When it comes to SaaS software, the provider is responsible for ensuring the security of the platform, integrated solutions and network.

SaaS vendors use different methods of data encryption, combined with other practices, to prevent data breaches. Some even allow you to have full control over encryption keys, therefore stripping themselves of the ability to decrypt the data of your company.

However, security measures will vary depending on the provider. While some will go the extra mile to protect your data, others provide the bare minimum. Here’s a good article on what questions to ask to determine whether the vendor can be trusted.

Timesheet Portal for Contractor Recruitment Agencies 

Our online timesheet software for recruitment agencies is built to cater to contractor recruitment needs. We provide deep knowledge and coverage of industries such as construction, healthcare, IT, education and more. Rich of integration options, Timesheet Portal is a valuable addition to any digital toolset, whether you’re just starting to build yours or are looking to upgrade your previous solution.

Streamlining contractor management was the primary goal of building our software back in 2006. All the additional functionality, integrations, reporting and customisation came based on feedback received from our clients. This way we know that we are delivering exactly what the market needs, not what we presume it wants. To find out more about our story and values, visit our About Us page. 

Key Takeaway

Being a contractor recruiter is a difficult job. And being a successful one is a piece of art built upon a perfect balance of technical and human skills. While there is no short way to becoming the industry’s best, there are certainly little tips and tricks that will unveil a couple of shortcuts.

One of them is the adoption of an integrated software toolbox to minimise manual, repetitive tasks and focus on polishing skills that only get better with practice. Just like any job, contractor management requires resilience, patience and consistency to master - but you don’t have to do it alone.

Are you ready to become a star contractor recruiter? Let us know or, even better, let us help you.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.