2023-07-21 | Clare Allen
Welcome to the second article in our series on contracting in financial services. This time we discuss the impact of remote working when finding a new contract role, along with the key challenges and solutions.
Traditionally, a contractor is able to find work in two ways:
- Approaching an agency and convincing the recruitment consultant of their experience, competency and interpersonal skills, and relying on the agent to identify suitable roles.
- Working within their network to find suitable roles and opportunities.
The first of these is self-explanatory, and as relationships are ‘cold’, there is little to no impact if the recruiter or contractor relationship is largely remote.
However, when it comes to working within their network, being a fully or partly remote contractor can be problematic.
In each engagement, a financial services contractor makes numerous acquaintances: collaborators, fellow contractors, senior permanent staff, representatives of suppliers – the list is endless. And a key part of a contractor’s future work strategy should be focused on maintaining this network.
I have lost count of the number of times that outstanding contractors have been referred to me by colleagues and other contractors I’m working with. Any recruiter will tell you that this is one of the best ways to identify top talent; those who won’t let you down at an interview or once on the job. But I’ve also lost count of the occasions when clients have had a resourcing need that has then gone away, as an appropriate individual has been identified through the team’s network. Again, for the client, this is an excellent low-risk way to engage a contractor.
But what if you’re predominantly working from home where opportunities to engage with new acquaintances and expand your network are far more limited?
Here’s what some of our contractors told us:
“I make a real effort to go to the office weekly and attend social events, as that’s when work acquaintances start to turn into friends. We can then help and support each other even long after we’ve both left the project”.
“I try to attend ‘lunch and learn’ sessions with my client, even if they’re mostly aimed at perm staff (I’m inside IR35 so I’m allowed!). These sessions help me to get to know my colleagues away from the day job”.
“I put brief Teams meetings in people’s diaries for a catch up rather than with a specific agenda, as this helps me get to know them better. I always ask if they’re open to this before setting up a meeting, and I haven’t been knocked back yet. It seems to be really appreciated”.
It has now become the norm for clients to interview contractors via video, and to make offers to hire based on that video interview. One concern that some of our contractors have identified is that interviewing on Teams or Zoom doesn’t always give a thorough and accurate impression of what it will be like working in an organisation with the specific hiring manager, even if you have more than one interview. It’s a bit of a leap of faith to accept a job offer based on this, which is why trusting your instinct is key.
While the move to remote and hybrid working has plenty of positives for contractors, maintaining networks and remote interviewing processes can sometimes be difficult. This is where considered office attendance can really come into its own; by taking part in social events and ensuring that key people are in on the same days that you are, collaboration should become much easier in the future.
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