How to prepare for a second lockdown as a contractor recruiter
It’s official: England is back in lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland are both in the middle of shorter ‘fire break’ lockdowns and Scotland is now in a 5-tier system of restrictions. COVID-19 is once again on the increase and with hospital admissions rising fast, leaders have had to act. These are worrying times for recruiters, who usually benefit from booming economies with lots of vacancies to fill, but with the right prep in place, you can set yourself up to make the best of a bad situation. Here are our top tips for recruiters looking to luck out in lockdown.
Hit the ground running with remote working
If you’ve been back in the office, unfortunately it’s time to shut up shop in the physical sense and switch back to working from home. The last lockdown taught us a few things about remote working, and here are the things we’d recommend getting in place as soon as possible:
• A quick comms blast to your end clients, letting them know that although your office is closed, you’re still open for business and would love to help them fill any vacancies that come up. Make sure this includes details of the best way to get hold of you, keeping continuity of relationships where possible to give clients maximum confidence.
• A similar quick mailer to your contractors, again letting them know you’re still there to help them and how they can get in touch. You could also use this to highlight the industries that you expect to remain open - manufacturing, education and construction, for example, have all been given the green light to continue.
• Set up a good remote internal communications platform so that you can continue to work effectively.
• Make sure you have key documents on file for all your contractors, such as proof of their eligibility to work in the UK. Set up an online portal for submission of documents that you would usually check in-branch.
Catch up with your end clients
Once you’ve updated them with the basics, we’d suggest scheduling a more in-depth call to chat with each of your end clients. This is your opportunity to sound them out about what projects they have coming up and ascertain whether anything is being put on hold.
Get them to fill you in on whether they have any potential new opportunities that might arise out of lockdown. New contracts in health and safety, risk assessment and expertise in remote-working IT systems are all growth areas. Businesses that have made redundancies or cut contracts before may now be building back up again and be in a position to hire, especially if this is a shorter lockdown as promised.
Having this in-depth conversation with each end client will take time, but it’s a worthy investment to get a true picture of their position and their likely needs over the next few months. Then you’ll be well placed to anticipate their vacancies and to match them with the best contractors to suit their business.
Target potential new end clients
Once you’ve caught up with the current clients on your books, it’s time for a bit of speculative, but targeted, marketing for some new ones.
Lockdown is changing the world of work in lots of ways, presenting new opportunities for recruiters. With such economic uncertainty and shifting demand, many businesses are telling us they don’t want to commit to permanent hires and all their associated fixed costs. Our answer to them? Contracting, of course! Contracting allows businesses to bring in new skills, talent and expertise for short-term jobs or to cover specific projects.
So, as well as your usual end clients, try targeting some new ones. For many this will be the first time they have considered contracting, and they’ll need a knowledgeable expert like you to lead the way to their first contract hires.
Brief your contractors
And finally, don’t forget your most important asset - your contractors! It’s a tough time for the self-employed at the moment and many will be anxious about what another lockdown will mean for them and for their business.
Just as with your end clients, we’d recommend checking in with each of the contractors on your books individually. Find out how things are going for them and what their availability is like. Sound them out about any relevant skills they have, especially if your conversations with end clients have revealed any gaps in their organisations. If they're looking for work or have recently had jobs cancelled, you can provide them with expert advice on how to be ready to go to seize any new opportunities that arise. They should hold any relevant licenses, professional associations and, of course, have proper business insurance in place.
Kingsbridge’s package is tailored specifically for contractors and includes professional indemnity, public liability, employers’ liability and directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, all in one hassle-free bundle. Make sure they have their contracts set up and ready to go, including an indicative IR35 status assessment for each one (don’t forget the new IR35 rules will come into effect from April 2021 onwards). The Kingsbridge IR35 status tool can help with this, producing results within minutes that give you and your end clients peace of mind about where a contract sits. With all these things in place, your contractor will be an easy, risk-free hire - exactly what your end clients are looking for in these complicated times.