Building permanent development teams: 5 things to consider when changing from contract to permanent

Emily Massey

Emily Massey

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Despite what you might hear, the recruitment market in early 2017 has remained buoyant whether you’re a contractor or a permanent employee. It’s an exciting time for developers who are considering new opportunities as there are plenty of options to choose from.

From a client perspective, we have found ourselves being asked by clients to replace existing contractors with permanent headcount. The most typical reasons are to save on the costs attached to a long-term contractor, to ensure the retention of skills and to hire staff who the employer believes to be passionate about the business and product.  

Replacing contractors with permanent staff is not as straight forward as it sounds, and experience tells us there are 5 key things to consider when hiring for permanent:

Replacing contractors with permanent staff is not as straight forward as it sounds

1. Cultural fit is more important than technical fit.

This is understandably a bold statement. Technically skills are clearly very important and making sure you get someone with the appropriate skillset and right approach to technology is important.

What we suggest is hiring for potential. If a candidate is a great cultural fit for the business but is lacking some skills, it is a good idea to consider how you can help this person to progress with your company and gain this knowledge. It is not as easy to teach someone to fit into the culture of your team.

2. Don’t expect to replace like for like.

When migrating your staff into a permanent team, you shouldn’t expect to hire someone with the same level of experience as your current contractors.

There is a gap between skills in the permanent and contract market; contractors are expected to be specialists in their fields and are likely to have more experience working in various environments. There will be a learning curve for new permanent hires, who will be looking for a role where they improve their knowledge and skills. This also leads to our next point . . .

3. Think about how you can attract and keep permanent staff?

One of the reasons it is beneficial to hire permanent staff is the retention of skills. To ensure this, it is important to consider what you are offering candidates in the long term. One of the main reasons permanent developers want to move on is to learn new skills, and some move into contracting to ensure they stay up to date with new technologies.

One of the reasons it is beneficial to hire permanent staff is the retention of skills

The most attractive permanent opportunities offer developers long-term training and tailored career progression. Tech is an ever changing market, and developers want to know they work for a business who see the value in staying ahead and experimenting with new technologies. Helping to train them increases the chance of retention.

4. The Benefits Package 

The permanent market is still candidate driven, and good candidates tend to have multiple offers to consider. A base salary which is in line with market standards is important, but additional benefits package help.

Although free fruit and a ping pong table is a fun extra benefit, this isn’t going to be the deciding factor for most candidates. The most important elements we have seen for candidates include is decent holiday allowance (25 days is the standard), good training opportunities, learning days, opportunities to go to conferences, personal development time and flexibility which I discuss further below.

5. Flexibility

We are increasingly seeing permanent candidates looking for flexibility. This includes working hours, remote working options and working practices and styles. These requests should be within reason, and in line with your company culture. For example, the option of being able to start and finish slightly earlier for parents who share childcare responsibilities is often a deciding factor for candidates with multiple offers.

Closing thoughts

When moving from a contract to a permanent team, it is important to understand that you are hiring for a different level of skills. You can expect contractors to have an immediate impact on a project, as they are bringing a particular set of skills to the team. When hiring for a permanent person, you are hiring for potential and the long term retention of skills.

It is a challenging market, and there are never any guarantees, but by addressing as many of these points as possible, you put yourself in the best position to hire the talent you need.