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Insight Into Contract Marketing Recruitment
September 2019
Executive Summary
• The majority of contractor respondents describe themselves as having multiple roles or specialisms.
• Contract lengths vary from a single day to 18 months or more. Generally though, these seem to average at
around 3-6 months.
• There is an imbalance of female contractors, with 80% of respondents being male.
• The majority of respondents (44%) said they would travel for up to an hour for an office based contract.
• The average day rate naturally varies with seniority and over the years the rate is definitely nudging higher.
• Work-life balance and a variety of roles are key benefits of working as a contractor.
• Requirements of a contractor from an employers perspective are; experience & knowledge, professionalism,
accessibility, adaptability, being a self starter and offering efficiencies. Running through all of this though is
the need to trust a contractor.
• Contractors believe that the biggest benefit they offer to employers is the quality of work they can provide,
closely followed by flexible resource and the fact that they are quick to start in a new role.
• It’s believed that businesses should be using contractors more regularly for Project and Interim work.
Specifically in the areas of Marketing Strategy and in Analytics.
Colin Telford,
Managing Partner, The Candidate
With 164,000 job openings in digital tech companies and 100,000 employed in the
region’s digital economy (Tech Nation, A Bright Tech Future Report 2019), the
sector’s skills shortage urgently needs a solution to prevent the North West being a
victim of it’s own success. Whilst the investment to attract talent to the region and a
growing focus on grassroots development begins to have an impact, companies
have been turning to contractors to help bridge their immediate resource gaps.
Contracting been prevalent for some time in the IT sector and now it’s the
marketing industry that’s in need of relief from this approach.
Our report surveyed contractors active in the marketing contract sector across the
region. It has uncovered a buoyant industry, where contractors cover a large
selection of marketing disciplines and employs a range of experience and levels,
from relatively junior search marketing consultants through to senior agency and
client side strategists. Growing demand for contractors is evident, with increasing
day rates and a greater choice for contractors active in the sector.
As the leading regional marketing recruitment agency, we’re educating clients on
the benefits of contractors and highlighting the benefits they can bring where they
traditionally sought a permanent member of staff. And they are reaping the rewards
by adopting contractors to fill the gaps, advance project work, advise on strategy
and implement tools, software or processes that are critical to ongoing commercial
success.
Research Methodology
For this investigation into Contract Marketing Recruitment, we talked solely to contractors from a range of sectors and backgrounds
across the North West.
We talked to contractors at various stages of their career and with varying levels of expertise. From Senior Marketing Consultants to
Creative Designers to Project Managers – and everything in between.
Respondents were asked about the types of roles they’ve held, how long the contracts were and how far they’re prepared to travel
for a contract. We enquired about average daily rates and how this has changed over the years.
We've investigated the benefits of contracting (both for the
contractor and for the client), as well as the challenges faced
through working in this way.
And finally, we talked about key the requirements of a
contractor and why (and where) businesses should use
contractors more frequently.
80.49%
19.51%
Male Female
Respondents
Chapter One:
Detail of Contracting Roles
The first thing we wanted to understand was the type of
positions that are being offered on a contract basis. As you
might imagine, there were a huge range of positions across
the marketing sector.
Of those we surveyed, over half were Digital Strategists,
including managers and heads of departments.
The next most popular roles were Senior Marketing
Consultants (C-suite and Director level positions), as well as
those working in Paid Media (PPC, Paid Social, Display etc.).
Many of those who responded define themselves in more than
one role – forging multiple specialisms depending on the
requirement of the contract.
There seems to be a wide range of contract lengths, from a
single day to 18 months and beyond. Though the most
regular contract length is between 3-6 months. A
significant few suggested that contracts are ongoing to the
point where they’re almost permanent positions, without
the tie (for either party) of being formally employed.
In terms of the distance people will travel for an office
based position, again this varies significantly. 44% stated
that they would travel for up to an hour and 17% said that
they would only go half as far. At the other end of the
scale, 22% said they’d travel up to 2 hours away and a few
(5%) said they would go even further than this.
Interestingly, 12% said that they would only accept remote
contracts.34.15%
53.66%
34.15%
26.83%
14.63%
9.76%
7.32%
17.07%
7.32%
9.76%
4.88%
29.27%
17.07%
14.63%
Senior Marketing Consultant i.e. Director,…
Digital Strategists i.e. Head of, Manager
Paid Media i.e. PPC, Paid Social, Display
Organic Search
Content, PR, Outreach
CRM
UX
Creative Designer (Digital, Print, etc.)
Creative Production (Videographers,…
Project Manager
Product Owner
Analytics ( Marketing, Customer and…
CRO
Other (please specify)
Exec Up to £100 £101 – £150 £151 - £200 £201 - £250 £251 – £300 £300+
2019 0.00% 37.50% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 37.50%
2018 0.00% 11.11% 0.00% 33.33% 22.22% 33.33%
2017 0.00% 12.50% 12.50% 37.50% 12.50% 25.00%
2016 11.11% 22.22% 11.11% 22.22% 11.11% 22.22%
Manager Up to £200 £201 - £250 £251 - £300 £301 - £350 £351 - £400 £401 - £450 £451 - £500 £501 - £550 £551 - £600 £600+
2019 5.88% 11.76% 23.53% 5.88% 5.88% 17.65% 11.76% 5.88% 5.88% 5.88%
2018 0.00% 21.43% 28.57% 14.29% 0.00% 14.29% 7.14% 7.14% 0.00% 7.14%
2017 0.00% 12.50% 12.50% 25.00% 12.50% 12.50% 12.50% 12.50% 0.00% 0.00%
2016 14.29% 14.29% 28.57% 28.57% 14.29% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Director Up to £400 £451 - £500 £501 - £550 £551 - £600 £601 - £650 £651 - £700 £951 - £1,000
2019 30.77% 0.00% 30.77% 7.69% 15.38% 7.69% 7.69%
2018 33.33% 22.22% 11.11% 11.11% 11.11% 0.00% 11.11%
2017 75.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2016 100.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Looking at average daily rates of pay, this of course sees a significant step change across the seniority of positions.
In terms of Execs, in 2016 the rate was relatively even across all brackets, whereas in 2019 we see that this has polarised somewhat
into the lower and upper ends of the spectrum.
In the case of Managers, the average has spread over the years into higher brackets of day rate. The majority of respondents
though, suggested a figure between £251- £300 was the average across each of the years.
And then to Directors, where again, the average has begun to spread upwards. In 2016 100% of respondents said the average daily
rate was up to £400, yet in 2019 this varies somewhat from up to £400 to £1,000.
Chapter Two:
Contractor Point of View - Benefits and Challenges
There are many perceived benefits to working as a contractor.
Those mentioned most often, were the ability to create a preferable work life balance (71%) and the wide variety of roles that are
accessible through contract work (73%). Similar to these was the benefit of flexibility (59%).
Increased earnings were mentioned by 56% of respondents, as was autonomy (54%) – the freedom to be your own boss and
make your own rules.
Career development and recognition were mentioned by a few respondents and others believed contracting was a tax efficient
way of earning.
One respondent stated that contracting was more disabled friendly than commuting to an office which is not designed for
wheelchair use.
Overall, respondents gave an average of over 4 responses each.
Whilst there are clearly a number of benefits to this type of
work, there are also a good number of challenges faced by
contractors on a regular basis.
The big two issues are centered very much around job
security and managing income.
Because of the nature of contracting, there are often issues in
ensuring a steady supply of clients or stream of work.
Not knowing where the next piece of business is going to
come from is an on-going worry. Work is often inconsistent
which means creating accurate pipelines and projections is
also difficult.
Where business is not ‘repeat’, sourcing relevant
opportunities and new clients can be tough and job security
is often a concern.
Conversely, it can also be difficult managing heavy work
loads and ensuring that deadlines are met and reputation
remains high. In these periods it can be difficult to take
holidays and to hold on to that work-life balance that most
believe should be a result of contracting.
Other, more specific challenges were also mentioned:
Inflexibility of clients, working with difficult clients and
understanding the communication structure of a business
(who to speak to and when). Low spending clients and
clients who can’t make decisions very quickly are further
concerns and impact the efficiency of contract work.
However these last few challenges don’t seem to be
restricted to contracting work and are also evident in
permanent positions. The benefit of contracting means that
should their employer of choice not be ideal, it is easier to
change roll and move to another company.
Once a contract has started it can often be time consuming to
chase down income and payments can be late. This can lead
to cashflow issues and unnecessary admin. Juggling taxes
has also been mentioned as challenge here.
Because of the variety of contracts it can be a challenge to
learn new systems and processes – quickly and to a high
standard.
However with challenges mainly revolving around payment
delays and uncertainty in securing work, the benefits of
working with an agency (and in some cases an umbrella
company) becomes apparent as they specialise in solutions
to avoid these pitfalls.
Clearly there’s a need for client education on how to best
work with contractors, but as the sector matures, we’ll see a
better understanding of how to get the best from contractors.
Chapter Three:
Employer Requirements and Benefits
The key elements that a client needs from a contractor, from a contractor’s perspective:
Experience and
Knowledge
Performance Accessibility Adaptability Self Starter Efficiencies
Naturally, there is an
expectation that contractors
are highly experienced,
skilled and knowledgeable
across a range and depth of
areas.
They must have a
professional attitude and
they should have proven
abilities.
Some businesses are looking
for thought leadership skills
and others require industry
knowledge.
Contractors must deliver on
their promises.
There is a definite focus on
excellent performance and
producing high quality work.
Contractors must be
performance driven and be
highly dependable.
Hitting deadlines is a must
as is generally being great at
their job.
Contractors must
demonstrate effective
communications and
efficient response times.
Of course there are
occasions where contractors
might be unavailable but
this must be transparent –
i.e. when in a meeting or
OOO for the day, ensure the
employer is aware.
Being adaptable and flexible
was mentioned by many
respondents as a key
requirement of a contractor.
It’s necessary to be
accommodating to location,
meeting timings, last minute
changes etc.
It’s also important for
contractors not to silo
themselves and to be
prepared to help out where
required.
The ability to work
autonomously with a self
starter attitude are traits
that are demanded of this
type of work.
A contractor should not
need to be micro-managed
and should be hard working,
consistent and proactive.
Using a contractor should
deliver many efficiencies.
From a cost perspective, a
contractor should save on
long term employee
overheads – delivering value
for money.
There are also expectations
of being able to put a
contractor in a role very
quickly – saving on time.
And contractors should most
definitely be reliable with
no need to be chased.
As well as this and perhaps above all else, an employer must be able to trust a contractor explicitly.
Contractors naturally perceive there to be multiple benefits to
the employer through employing services in this way.
92% of respondents stated that the key benefit was the high
quality of work provided. Because reputation and repeat
business is so important to contractors, employers are
almost guaranteed a focused and highly productive provider.
Contractors are quick to start, usually with no notice periods
to navigate and they’re quick to pick up on the job in hand –
showing results right away. They’re also likely to be highly
specialised in the area that’s required of them.
The flexibility of contractors is a benefit in itself but this also
brings about efficiencies for the business. With no long term
employee costs, contractors can be utilised as and when
required.
On this note, it was stated (in ‘other’) that using contractors
gives the luxury of affording director level experience without
having a full time director level salary. Meaning money can
be spent on growing the business rather than on employee
overheads.
34.15%
63.41%
56.10%
68.29%
78.05%
48.78%
92.68%
14.63%
Less admin Improved
efficiencies
Accelerated
growth
Quick to start Flexible
resource
Part-time
contract
High quality
work
Other (please
specify)
“What benefits can you offer
to a client as a contractor?”
We asked respondents in which areas they felt that businesses could be using contractors more;
The key areas mentioned were Marketing Strategy and Analytics. As you might expect, it’s suggested that contracting could be used
more when it comes to solving Interim Solutions and for specific Project Work. However, there were no areas where respondents
didn’t feel that there was potential to use contractors more regularly.
53.66%
36.59%
26.83%
14.63%
29.27%
17.07%
56.10%
63.41%
39.02%
29.27%
41.46%
17.07%
51.22%
36.59%
12.20%
Analytics Attribution Search
Management
CRM
Software
setup
Adhoc Marketing
Team
building
Project Work Marketing
Strategy
Cost Saving Marketing
Insight
Elevated
Expertise
Agency
Procurement
Interim
Solutions
Creative
Work
Other
(please
specify)
What have we learnt?
Physical Presence
12% of respondents suggested that they would only accept
contracts that were based on remote working contracts.
Whilst this could be seen to be limiting - in terms of the
contracts available - there must be enough demand in the
market to make this a viable business practice.
In actual fact, where technology means we can all work from
anywhere, perhaps it makes sense to demand at least an
element of remote working. This would also open up a wider
pool of contractors and businesses if geography were not so
much of an issue. Costs could be lowered and a lack of travel
time would increase efficiencies.
High Expectations
Whilst it seems that hiring contractors is very efficient for
employers, there are huge expectations of contractors to be
expert, efficient and excellent at their job.
They must perform to the highest standards and are easily
replaced due to the nature of their contract.
It also seems though that contractors have high
expectations of themselves. In order to preserve their
reputation and uphold their own standards, they always
strive to provide the best possible output.
Security v Earning Potential
Many respondents talked about the difficulty in securing
regular contracts and some suggested that the availability
of roles has declined somewhat this year.
At the same time however, respondents suggested that a
key benefit to contracting is the ability to earn more.
The balance between security and potential earnings is
something each individual must way up before moving into
contracting.
On the plus side (when it works well), it seems that all
parties can financially benefit from a contracting
arrangement. Contractors can charge a good day rate
whilst the employer enjoys strong return on investment.
Benefits = Challenges
Benefits such as flexibility and the variety of projects
undertaken are at the same time some of the areas that cause
the most challenges.
Controlling the work-life balance is much harder than it may
seem.
Whilst contractors have flexibility, make their own choices
around projects and often enjoy a variety of projects, the
uncertainty of where the next role is coming from means that
contractors often need to take on as much work as possible
when it is available. This can often mean juggling projects
and working to tight deadlines.
Industry Insight
Lisa Weaver – Marketing Contractor - PPC Manager (Paid Search & Social) at The PPC Team
“I have been contracting for just over 2 years and the rise in businesses looking to work with contractors has been phenomenal. They are much more open to using
contractors/freelancers as there is less risk to the business, compared to hiring a permanent employee, if the work is only short term or uncertain. Business owners know that
they can have specialist support for as long as they need it. Given how the industry is – with people moving around employed roles more and more – there is also the need for
support between recruitment. That is something I offer a lot to agencies, working with them on a regular basis means I have built relationships with the key stakeholders and
department heads and, the ongoing nature of the relationship, means that I understand the business and am able to easily assist them at short notice, hitting the ground
running without having to have everything explained to me.
Businesses are looking for proven experience, trustworthiness, honesty, value for money, accessibility – they want someone that is available as if they were working within
the business.
For me, roles need to fit with the lifestyle– after all freelancing is all about lifestyle and work life balance. I only work remotely so it has to offer that for me. The brand,
vision, expectations etc. all have to appeal/resonate with me and also be realistic – reputation is everything and taking on a client that has unachievable KPIs is only going to
be bad for your business – and theirs.
I have to have some sort of rapport with the client. This world means a very close working relationship as there isn’t an account management team buffer to protect you, it’s just you
and the client and their team.
Contracting is a much more attractive option financially simply because, with regular work, you have the opportunity to earn the same – if not more – but be working
less hours. There is also the opportunity, if you want to work regular hours, to earn a very tidy sum.
The skill set in the North West is very high and digital is growing rapidly meaning that there is the need to diversify to keep up with demand. I do still believe that there is call for
specialisation in one or two key areas and that over-diversification is the beginning of the end for some as each discipline is now so detailed that surely the human brain can’t be
an expert in all areas? Maybe I’m wrong but there was the old saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. I firmly believe this applies to digital marketing.
I also feel that there are a lot of less experienced digital freelancers around that like the idea of the lifestyle but don’t really have the experience that others do. I have
worked client side and agency side, for large and smaller brands, and that taught me so much. Especially what it is like to be the client and I think that gives me a relatively unique
perspective on the pain points that clients want to avoid.
In terms of how the skill levels affect where I contract, I haven’t noticed that this has had direct affect for the work I pick up. 90% of my clients have been referrals and, to date, I
haven’t had to advertise for any work.”
Steve Porter - Marketing Consultant with over 10 years marketing experience
“Twelve months ago I made the move to contracting, for two main reasons:
1.) In my past few roles, the more I hired/worked with contractors the more I noticed the flexibility, remuneration and work/life balance that seems to come with it. And 2.)
My most recent roles have been mainly marketing transformation projects (building marketing depts/teams/structures from scratch) — and I’ve loved it — so I switched to being a
consultant so I could work on more of these chunky projects
There is probably greater opportunity for contractors to earn more, particularly if they have niche or on-demand skills. And I think this is fair: there is equally fierce
competition for the bigger roles, when compared with permanent, but contractors are often on rolling contracts with little or no notice period. A larger pay rate can help offset any
insecurity this might create. Also there is sometimes a perception that contractors have deeper technical expertise — that they’re specialists; after all, they often work on large
or significant projects. Hiring a specialist for a large project often means paying more for this expertise.
The sector itself is widening, due to supply & demand. More companies want contractors, because even with the higher pay it’s probably cheaper than an FTE (because there
are no ‘on-costs’), and can look better on a P&L. Such an increase in demand means more people are switching to contract work: it’s getting easier to set up, easier to network
and spot opportunities, and many consultant contractors are choosing to juggle more than one contract or client at a time.
In terms of the role itself, the analogy of T-Shaped marketers helps: where a person combines broad knowledge covering a wide range of (often digital) tactics with in-
depth knowledge in one or maybe two specific areas. I think contractors increasingly need (or are expected) to go wider or deeper. Wider: okay you’re a digital marketing expert
but can you help with our web platform, our sales and marketing infrastructure, our reporting and analytics. Deeper: okay you’re a lead gen expert, but we want omnichannel
marketing with progressive profiling, lead scoring, and 121 automated nurture streams.
It’s obvious, but pay and location are typically the two most important filters a contractor uses when searching for their next role. But for many people, these are just a
baseline. Remote and flexible working are as important to contractors as they are to perm staff. The company I’m contracted to is based in central London, and I’m typically down
there a couple of times a month; but for the most part I work from home, up here in West Yorkshire. I’m also measured on outputs/delivery (not when I clock on/off). This is
perfect for my work/life balance.
When you find something that piques your interest, you ask: can I work with this client (on a personal level), and can I do what they're asking of me (on a business level)? You love a
challenge but you want the contract or project to be a success. And you think about how your CV will look at the end of it: where it will rank on your key achievements, and
also (perhaps) where it’s made you a wider or deeper “T”.
Steve Porter - Marketing Consultant with over 10 years marketing experience (Continued)
Businesses are looking for skills, domain knowledge, and a past record of success; quick to grasp what’s in a brief or scoping doc, a strong personality that can
impress and influence colleagues and stakeholders, and the ability to just crack on with it. I also put huge weight behind personal recommendations, whether from friends or
ex-teammates, or via some of the many great “creative collective” style networking groups out there.
Almost every contractor I’ve worked with has been recommended by someone. Also, even if they have the key skills you’re looking for, meet them for a drink and general chat (if
location permits; if not, have a decent Skype call). Contractors are often parachuted in and have to win over stakeholders and teammates instantly, so you want to make
sure they’re the right cultural fit.
There are the obvious benefits of flexible headcount, no on-costs, short-term contracts, specialised skill sets, etc. Also with contractors it’s sometimes easier to set up
one-off/bespoke projects, away from the core team. (Although be careful, as this can breed resentment in the permanent staff if not handled properly.)
However, for me one of the key benefits of hiring a contractor is the expertise they can impart on your permanent staff. In terms of staff learning from contractors, I’ve seen
graphic designers add motion animation to their repertoire, email marketers become full-on marketing automation specialists, web designers expanding their front-end developer
skills. It’s not always possible to buddy-up perm and contract people, but where you can you should — even if it’s just a day of shadowing here or there.
We’ve already said it but drawbacks can be a significant weekly/monthly cash outlay. In past roles, any contractor fees have come straight out of my marketing budget — which
may not have been part of budget planning.
Also, some say that by relying on contractors and/or subcontractors, your business does not acquire or develop skills in-house. But as mentioned above, this doesn’t have
to be the case if you can buddy-up contractors with your core team.
However, I have to say there is no substitute for a tight, integrated, permanent set of co-workers who have bought into the business vision and genuinely care that it succeeds.
Contractors are professionals, but you can't expect them to immerse themselves like a full-time team member.
I can only really speak for Manchester, but there is a rich, deep pool of well-connected contracting talent up here — particularly digital marketing. Although I think PR and
outreach is the most obvious skill deficit to London. I think, in relative terms, the number of contractors available, the number of contract opportunities available, and therefore the
competitiveness of the market, is the same in the North West versus London. High.”
The Candidate
5th Floor, Clayton House
59 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AQ
0161 833 1044
www.thecandidate.co.uk
twitter: @thecandidateuk
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Insight Into Contract Marketing Recruitment

  • 1. Insight Into Contract Marketing Recruitment September 2019
  • 3. • The majority of contractor respondents describe themselves as having multiple roles or specialisms. • Contract lengths vary from a single day to 18 months or more. Generally though, these seem to average at around 3-6 months. • There is an imbalance of female contractors, with 80% of respondents being male. • The majority of respondents (44%) said they would travel for up to an hour for an office based contract. • The average day rate naturally varies with seniority and over the years the rate is definitely nudging higher. • Work-life balance and a variety of roles are key benefits of working as a contractor. • Requirements of a contractor from an employers perspective are; experience & knowledge, professionalism, accessibility, adaptability, being a self starter and offering efficiencies. Running through all of this though is the need to trust a contractor. • Contractors believe that the biggest benefit they offer to employers is the quality of work they can provide, closely followed by flexible resource and the fact that they are quick to start in a new role. • It’s believed that businesses should be using contractors more regularly for Project and Interim work. Specifically in the areas of Marketing Strategy and in Analytics.
  • 4. Colin Telford, Managing Partner, The Candidate With 164,000 job openings in digital tech companies and 100,000 employed in the region’s digital economy (Tech Nation, A Bright Tech Future Report 2019), the sector’s skills shortage urgently needs a solution to prevent the North West being a victim of it’s own success. Whilst the investment to attract talent to the region and a growing focus on grassroots development begins to have an impact, companies have been turning to contractors to help bridge their immediate resource gaps. Contracting been prevalent for some time in the IT sector and now it’s the marketing industry that’s in need of relief from this approach. Our report surveyed contractors active in the marketing contract sector across the region. It has uncovered a buoyant industry, where contractors cover a large selection of marketing disciplines and employs a range of experience and levels, from relatively junior search marketing consultants through to senior agency and client side strategists. Growing demand for contractors is evident, with increasing day rates and a greater choice for contractors active in the sector. As the leading regional marketing recruitment agency, we’re educating clients on the benefits of contractors and highlighting the benefits they can bring where they traditionally sought a permanent member of staff. And they are reaping the rewards by adopting contractors to fill the gaps, advance project work, advise on strategy and implement tools, software or processes that are critical to ongoing commercial success.
  • 5. Research Methodology For this investigation into Contract Marketing Recruitment, we talked solely to contractors from a range of sectors and backgrounds across the North West. We talked to contractors at various stages of their career and with varying levels of expertise. From Senior Marketing Consultants to Creative Designers to Project Managers – and everything in between. Respondents were asked about the types of roles they’ve held, how long the contracts were and how far they’re prepared to travel for a contract. We enquired about average daily rates and how this has changed over the years. We've investigated the benefits of contracting (both for the contractor and for the client), as well as the challenges faced through working in this way. And finally, we talked about key the requirements of a contractor and why (and where) businesses should use contractors more frequently. 80.49% 19.51% Male Female Respondents
  • 6. Chapter One: Detail of Contracting Roles
  • 7. The first thing we wanted to understand was the type of positions that are being offered on a contract basis. As you might imagine, there were a huge range of positions across the marketing sector. Of those we surveyed, over half were Digital Strategists, including managers and heads of departments. The next most popular roles were Senior Marketing Consultants (C-suite and Director level positions), as well as those working in Paid Media (PPC, Paid Social, Display etc.). Many of those who responded define themselves in more than one role – forging multiple specialisms depending on the requirement of the contract. There seems to be a wide range of contract lengths, from a single day to 18 months and beyond. Though the most regular contract length is between 3-6 months. A significant few suggested that contracts are ongoing to the point where they’re almost permanent positions, without the tie (for either party) of being formally employed. In terms of the distance people will travel for an office based position, again this varies significantly. 44% stated that they would travel for up to an hour and 17% said that they would only go half as far. At the other end of the scale, 22% said they’d travel up to 2 hours away and a few (5%) said they would go even further than this. Interestingly, 12% said that they would only accept remote contracts.34.15% 53.66% 34.15% 26.83% 14.63% 9.76% 7.32% 17.07% 7.32% 9.76% 4.88% 29.27% 17.07% 14.63% Senior Marketing Consultant i.e. Director,… Digital Strategists i.e. Head of, Manager Paid Media i.e. PPC, Paid Social, Display Organic Search Content, PR, Outreach CRM UX Creative Designer (Digital, Print, etc.) Creative Production (Videographers,… Project Manager Product Owner Analytics ( Marketing, Customer and… CRO Other (please specify)
  • 8. Exec Up to £100 £101 – £150 £151 - £200 £201 - £250 £251 – £300 £300+ 2019 0.00% 37.50% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 37.50% 2018 0.00% 11.11% 0.00% 33.33% 22.22% 33.33% 2017 0.00% 12.50% 12.50% 37.50% 12.50% 25.00% 2016 11.11% 22.22% 11.11% 22.22% 11.11% 22.22% Manager Up to £200 £201 - £250 £251 - £300 £301 - £350 £351 - £400 £401 - £450 £451 - £500 £501 - £550 £551 - £600 £600+ 2019 5.88% 11.76% 23.53% 5.88% 5.88% 17.65% 11.76% 5.88% 5.88% 5.88% 2018 0.00% 21.43% 28.57% 14.29% 0.00% 14.29% 7.14% 7.14% 0.00% 7.14% 2017 0.00% 12.50% 12.50% 25.00% 12.50% 12.50% 12.50% 12.50% 0.00% 0.00% 2016 14.29% 14.29% 28.57% 28.57% 14.29% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% Director Up to £400 £451 - £500 £501 - £550 £551 - £600 £601 - £650 £651 - £700 £951 - £1,000 2019 30.77% 0.00% 30.77% 7.69% 15.38% 7.69% 7.69% 2018 33.33% 22.22% 11.11% 11.11% 11.11% 0.00% 11.11% 2017 75.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2016 100.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% Looking at average daily rates of pay, this of course sees a significant step change across the seniority of positions. In terms of Execs, in 2016 the rate was relatively even across all brackets, whereas in 2019 we see that this has polarised somewhat into the lower and upper ends of the spectrum. In the case of Managers, the average has spread over the years into higher brackets of day rate. The majority of respondents though, suggested a figure between £251- £300 was the average across each of the years. And then to Directors, where again, the average has begun to spread upwards. In 2016 100% of respondents said the average daily rate was up to £400, yet in 2019 this varies somewhat from up to £400 to £1,000.
  • 9. Chapter Two: Contractor Point of View - Benefits and Challenges
  • 10. There are many perceived benefits to working as a contractor. Those mentioned most often, were the ability to create a preferable work life balance (71%) and the wide variety of roles that are accessible through contract work (73%). Similar to these was the benefit of flexibility (59%). Increased earnings were mentioned by 56% of respondents, as was autonomy (54%) – the freedom to be your own boss and make your own rules. Career development and recognition were mentioned by a few respondents and others believed contracting was a tax efficient way of earning. One respondent stated that contracting was more disabled friendly than commuting to an office which is not designed for wheelchair use. Overall, respondents gave an average of over 4 responses each.
  • 11. Whilst there are clearly a number of benefits to this type of work, there are also a good number of challenges faced by contractors on a regular basis. The big two issues are centered very much around job security and managing income. Because of the nature of contracting, there are often issues in ensuring a steady supply of clients or stream of work. Not knowing where the next piece of business is going to come from is an on-going worry. Work is often inconsistent which means creating accurate pipelines and projections is also difficult. Where business is not ‘repeat’, sourcing relevant opportunities and new clients can be tough and job security is often a concern. Conversely, it can also be difficult managing heavy work loads and ensuring that deadlines are met and reputation remains high. In these periods it can be difficult to take holidays and to hold on to that work-life balance that most believe should be a result of contracting.
  • 12. Other, more specific challenges were also mentioned: Inflexibility of clients, working with difficult clients and understanding the communication structure of a business (who to speak to and when). Low spending clients and clients who can’t make decisions very quickly are further concerns and impact the efficiency of contract work. However these last few challenges don’t seem to be restricted to contracting work and are also evident in permanent positions. The benefit of contracting means that should their employer of choice not be ideal, it is easier to change roll and move to another company. Once a contract has started it can often be time consuming to chase down income and payments can be late. This can lead to cashflow issues and unnecessary admin. Juggling taxes has also been mentioned as challenge here. Because of the variety of contracts it can be a challenge to learn new systems and processes – quickly and to a high standard. However with challenges mainly revolving around payment delays and uncertainty in securing work, the benefits of working with an agency (and in some cases an umbrella company) becomes apparent as they specialise in solutions to avoid these pitfalls. Clearly there’s a need for client education on how to best work with contractors, but as the sector matures, we’ll see a better understanding of how to get the best from contractors.
  • 14. The key elements that a client needs from a contractor, from a contractor’s perspective: Experience and Knowledge Performance Accessibility Adaptability Self Starter Efficiencies Naturally, there is an expectation that contractors are highly experienced, skilled and knowledgeable across a range and depth of areas. They must have a professional attitude and they should have proven abilities. Some businesses are looking for thought leadership skills and others require industry knowledge. Contractors must deliver on their promises. There is a definite focus on excellent performance and producing high quality work. Contractors must be performance driven and be highly dependable. Hitting deadlines is a must as is generally being great at their job. Contractors must demonstrate effective communications and efficient response times. Of course there are occasions where contractors might be unavailable but this must be transparent – i.e. when in a meeting or OOO for the day, ensure the employer is aware. Being adaptable and flexible was mentioned by many respondents as a key requirement of a contractor. It’s necessary to be accommodating to location, meeting timings, last minute changes etc. It’s also important for contractors not to silo themselves and to be prepared to help out where required. The ability to work autonomously with a self starter attitude are traits that are demanded of this type of work. A contractor should not need to be micro-managed and should be hard working, consistent and proactive. Using a contractor should deliver many efficiencies. From a cost perspective, a contractor should save on long term employee overheads – delivering value for money. There are also expectations of being able to put a contractor in a role very quickly – saving on time. And contractors should most definitely be reliable with no need to be chased. As well as this and perhaps above all else, an employer must be able to trust a contractor explicitly.
  • 15. Contractors naturally perceive there to be multiple benefits to the employer through employing services in this way. 92% of respondents stated that the key benefit was the high quality of work provided. Because reputation and repeat business is so important to contractors, employers are almost guaranteed a focused and highly productive provider. Contractors are quick to start, usually with no notice periods to navigate and they’re quick to pick up on the job in hand – showing results right away. They’re also likely to be highly specialised in the area that’s required of them. The flexibility of contractors is a benefit in itself but this also brings about efficiencies for the business. With no long term employee costs, contractors can be utilised as and when required. On this note, it was stated (in ‘other’) that using contractors gives the luxury of affording director level experience without having a full time director level salary. Meaning money can be spent on growing the business rather than on employee overheads. 34.15% 63.41% 56.10% 68.29% 78.05% 48.78% 92.68% 14.63% Less admin Improved efficiencies Accelerated growth Quick to start Flexible resource Part-time contract High quality work Other (please specify) “What benefits can you offer to a client as a contractor?”
  • 16. We asked respondents in which areas they felt that businesses could be using contractors more; The key areas mentioned were Marketing Strategy and Analytics. As you might expect, it’s suggested that contracting could be used more when it comes to solving Interim Solutions and for specific Project Work. However, there were no areas where respondents didn’t feel that there was potential to use contractors more regularly. 53.66% 36.59% 26.83% 14.63% 29.27% 17.07% 56.10% 63.41% 39.02% 29.27% 41.46% 17.07% 51.22% 36.59% 12.20% Analytics Attribution Search Management CRM Software setup Adhoc Marketing Team building Project Work Marketing Strategy Cost Saving Marketing Insight Elevated Expertise Agency Procurement Interim Solutions Creative Work Other (please specify)
  • 17. What have we learnt?
  • 18. Physical Presence 12% of respondents suggested that they would only accept contracts that were based on remote working contracts. Whilst this could be seen to be limiting - in terms of the contracts available - there must be enough demand in the market to make this a viable business practice. In actual fact, where technology means we can all work from anywhere, perhaps it makes sense to demand at least an element of remote working. This would also open up a wider pool of contractors and businesses if geography were not so much of an issue. Costs could be lowered and a lack of travel time would increase efficiencies. High Expectations Whilst it seems that hiring contractors is very efficient for employers, there are huge expectations of contractors to be expert, efficient and excellent at their job. They must perform to the highest standards and are easily replaced due to the nature of their contract. It also seems though that contractors have high expectations of themselves. In order to preserve their reputation and uphold their own standards, they always strive to provide the best possible output.
  • 19. Security v Earning Potential Many respondents talked about the difficulty in securing regular contracts and some suggested that the availability of roles has declined somewhat this year. At the same time however, respondents suggested that a key benefit to contracting is the ability to earn more. The balance between security and potential earnings is something each individual must way up before moving into contracting. On the plus side (when it works well), it seems that all parties can financially benefit from a contracting arrangement. Contractors can charge a good day rate whilst the employer enjoys strong return on investment. Benefits = Challenges Benefits such as flexibility and the variety of projects undertaken are at the same time some of the areas that cause the most challenges. Controlling the work-life balance is much harder than it may seem. Whilst contractors have flexibility, make their own choices around projects and often enjoy a variety of projects, the uncertainty of where the next role is coming from means that contractors often need to take on as much work as possible when it is available. This can often mean juggling projects and working to tight deadlines.
  • 21. Lisa Weaver – Marketing Contractor - PPC Manager (Paid Search & Social) at The PPC Team “I have been contracting for just over 2 years and the rise in businesses looking to work with contractors has been phenomenal. They are much more open to using contractors/freelancers as there is less risk to the business, compared to hiring a permanent employee, if the work is only short term or uncertain. Business owners know that they can have specialist support for as long as they need it. Given how the industry is – with people moving around employed roles more and more – there is also the need for support between recruitment. That is something I offer a lot to agencies, working with them on a regular basis means I have built relationships with the key stakeholders and department heads and, the ongoing nature of the relationship, means that I understand the business and am able to easily assist them at short notice, hitting the ground running without having to have everything explained to me. Businesses are looking for proven experience, trustworthiness, honesty, value for money, accessibility – they want someone that is available as if they were working within the business. For me, roles need to fit with the lifestyle– after all freelancing is all about lifestyle and work life balance. I only work remotely so it has to offer that for me. The brand, vision, expectations etc. all have to appeal/resonate with me and also be realistic – reputation is everything and taking on a client that has unachievable KPIs is only going to be bad for your business – and theirs. I have to have some sort of rapport with the client. This world means a very close working relationship as there isn’t an account management team buffer to protect you, it’s just you and the client and their team. Contracting is a much more attractive option financially simply because, with regular work, you have the opportunity to earn the same – if not more – but be working less hours. There is also the opportunity, if you want to work regular hours, to earn a very tidy sum. The skill set in the North West is very high and digital is growing rapidly meaning that there is the need to diversify to keep up with demand. I do still believe that there is call for specialisation in one or two key areas and that over-diversification is the beginning of the end for some as each discipline is now so detailed that surely the human brain can’t be an expert in all areas? Maybe I’m wrong but there was the old saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. I firmly believe this applies to digital marketing. I also feel that there are a lot of less experienced digital freelancers around that like the idea of the lifestyle but don’t really have the experience that others do. I have worked client side and agency side, for large and smaller brands, and that taught me so much. Especially what it is like to be the client and I think that gives me a relatively unique perspective on the pain points that clients want to avoid. In terms of how the skill levels affect where I contract, I haven’t noticed that this has had direct affect for the work I pick up. 90% of my clients have been referrals and, to date, I haven’t had to advertise for any work.”
  • 22. Steve Porter - Marketing Consultant with over 10 years marketing experience “Twelve months ago I made the move to contracting, for two main reasons: 1.) In my past few roles, the more I hired/worked with contractors the more I noticed the flexibility, remuneration and work/life balance that seems to come with it. And 2.) My most recent roles have been mainly marketing transformation projects (building marketing depts/teams/structures from scratch) — and I’ve loved it — so I switched to being a consultant so I could work on more of these chunky projects There is probably greater opportunity for contractors to earn more, particularly if they have niche or on-demand skills. And I think this is fair: there is equally fierce competition for the bigger roles, when compared with permanent, but contractors are often on rolling contracts with little or no notice period. A larger pay rate can help offset any insecurity this might create. Also there is sometimes a perception that contractors have deeper technical expertise — that they’re specialists; after all, they often work on large or significant projects. Hiring a specialist for a large project often means paying more for this expertise. The sector itself is widening, due to supply & demand. More companies want contractors, because even with the higher pay it’s probably cheaper than an FTE (because there are no ‘on-costs’), and can look better on a P&L. Such an increase in demand means more people are switching to contract work: it’s getting easier to set up, easier to network and spot opportunities, and many consultant contractors are choosing to juggle more than one contract or client at a time. In terms of the role itself, the analogy of T-Shaped marketers helps: where a person combines broad knowledge covering a wide range of (often digital) tactics with in- depth knowledge in one or maybe two specific areas. I think contractors increasingly need (or are expected) to go wider or deeper. Wider: okay you’re a digital marketing expert but can you help with our web platform, our sales and marketing infrastructure, our reporting and analytics. Deeper: okay you’re a lead gen expert, but we want omnichannel marketing with progressive profiling, lead scoring, and 121 automated nurture streams. It’s obvious, but pay and location are typically the two most important filters a contractor uses when searching for their next role. But for many people, these are just a baseline. Remote and flexible working are as important to contractors as they are to perm staff. The company I’m contracted to is based in central London, and I’m typically down there a couple of times a month; but for the most part I work from home, up here in West Yorkshire. I’m also measured on outputs/delivery (not when I clock on/off). This is perfect for my work/life balance. When you find something that piques your interest, you ask: can I work with this client (on a personal level), and can I do what they're asking of me (on a business level)? You love a challenge but you want the contract or project to be a success. And you think about how your CV will look at the end of it: where it will rank on your key achievements, and also (perhaps) where it’s made you a wider or deeper “T”.
  • 23. Steve Porter - Marketing Consultant with over 10 years marketing experience (Continued) Businesses are looking for skills, domain knowledge, and a past record of success; quick to grasp what’s in a brief or scoping doc, a strong personality that can impress and influence colleagues and stakeholders, and the ability to just crack on with it. I also put huge weight behind personal recommendations, whether from friends or ex-teammates, or via some of the many great “creative collective” style networking groups out there. Almost every contractor I’ve worked with has been recommended by someone. Also, even if they have the key skills you’re looking for, meet them for a drink and general chat (if location permits; if not, have a decent Skype call). Contractors are often parachuted in and have to win over stakeholders and teammates instantly, so you want to make sure they’re the right cultural fit. There are the obvious benefits of flexible headcount, no on-costs, short-term contracts, specialised skill sets, etc. Also with contractors it’s sometimes easier to set up one-off/bespoke projects, away from the core team. (Although be careful, as this can breed resentment in the permanent staff if not handled properly.) However, for me one of the key benefits of hiring a contractor is the expertise they can impart on your permanent staff. In terms of staff learning from contractors, I’ve seen graphic designers add motion animation to their repertoire, email marketers become full-on marketing automation specialists, web designers expanding their front-end developer skills. It’s not always possible to buddy-up perm and contract people, but where you can you should — even if it’s just a day of shadowing here or there. We’ve already said it but drawbacks can be a significant weekly/monthly cash outlay. In past roles, any contractor fees have come straight out of my marketing budget — which may not have been part of budget planning. Also, some say that by relying on contractors and/or subcontractors, your business does not acquire or develop skills in-house. But as mentioned above, this doesn’t have to be the case if you can buddy-up contractors with your core team. However, I have to say there is no substitute for a tight, integrated, permanent set of co-workers who have bought into the business vision and genuinely care that it succeeds. Contractors are professionals, but you can't expect them to immerse themselves like a full-time team member. I can only really speak for Manchester, but there is a rich, deep pool of well-connected contracting talent up here — particularly digital marketing. Although I think PR and outreach is the most obvious skill deficit to London. I think, in relative terms, the number of contractors available, the number of contract opportunities available, and therefore the competitiveness of the market, is the same in the North West versus London. High.”
  • 24. The Candidate 5th Floor, Clayton House 59 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AQ 0161 833 1044 www.thecandidate.co.uk twitter: @thecandidateuk Icons shown in document made by: Copyright © 2019