Contractors in high demand – but mind the salary gap

Contractors in high demand – but mind the salary gap

Vacancy activity is rising in Hong Kong for contract professionals, but while candidates are more accepting of these assignments they want a higher salary than employers are willing to offer.

In its latest Hays Quarterly Report, recruiting experts Hays says that a growing list of both permanent and contract candidates are in high demand. Yet while permanent candidate expectations are reasonable, there is a gap between the salary increase expectations of employers and employees when it comes to contract roles.

“Contractors, or candidates interviewing for contracting opportunities, typically ask for a higher pay rate given that such roles offer fewer benefits compared to permanent roles,” says Dean Stallard, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong. “However employers are offering only modest increments in the current business climate.”

Dean says that candidates are becoming more accepting of temporary roles. “Many contractors are already working for a premium rate and as a result permanent employees are open to temporary positions based on the potential they offer to earn a higher compensation.”


Advice for candidates

Skills development: Contract assignments offer you a broad depth of opportunities, experience and skills development. You can take assignments that will broaden your expertise, expose you to new industries and diversify your skills and experience, which will make you more attractive and employable in future.

Build your network: On each assignment you’ll meet new professionals in your field. This allows you to build your professional network, which can be invaluable when you want to learn about future temporary assignments or permanent roles.

Contract extension: Most assignments have a finish date, but these can often be extended. In addition, occasionally an assignment leads to a permanent role.

Work/life balance: By working as a professional contractor you can pick and choose your assignments, allowing ultimate control over your work/life balance.

Higher hourly rates: Many candidates are attracted to the higher hourly rates of contract assignments compared to permanent positions at the same level. Contract assignments offer a higher hourly rate since in an assignment you do not accrue annual leave or have access to sick or personal leave, and you rarely receive bonuses or other benefits associated with a permanent role.

Popular with employers: They are popular with employers since contract assignments keep the business moving forward by overcoming workload peaks while simultaneously maintaining a degree of flexibility for the future.


A word of warning

It is important for candidates considering contract assignments to be flexible. You will need to move from assignment to assignment, and workplace to workplace. This constant change, plus the lack of guaranteed ongoing work is not for everyone. But in today’s market, once one assignment finishes candidates usually quickly secure another.

You also need to be adaptable, able to quickly fit into new workplaces and hit the ground running.

This article was originally published on Hays.

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