If your business is going through a big transition period there’s probably been some discussion around bringing specialised contractors onboard to help navigate the change.
Although generally perceived as the territory of junior to mid-level staff, the world of contracting is gradually expanding upwards. The number of c-suite executives moving towards temp work is on the rise, and the demand for interim executives, also known as ‘super temps’, has recently been identified as a powerful recruitment trend throughout the U.S, the U.K and Europe.
Accounting and finance are among the most popular areas of expertise for freelance execs, as they are increasingly brought onboard to help fix financial issues and manage large transformation projects.
At Accountancy Options we discussed what the rise of c-suite contractors means for both the executive workforce and for employers in Melbourne.
What recruiting senior execs on a contract basis means for Melbourne employers
“Executive level temping is yet to gain any serious traction in the Melbourne recruitment market, although a handful of our clients have approached us for interim CFOs and COOs in past few months”, says Ryan Dowling, our senior accounting and finance recruitment specialist.
“For employers this can be a costly business, as c-suite level candidates set high rates for contract work, with some asking for circa $1,500 per day”, he explains.
However, hiring executive level contract staff for specific periods could save employers money in the long run, particularly when it comes to financial transformation projects that require a high degree of specialised knowledge for an intensive time period.
Back in 2012 the Harvard Business Review identified the hire of c-suite temps as a “lower risk, flexible and faster talent model’ that could give businesses a quick competitive advantage. “Hiring managers can quickly recruit contractors who complement the capabilities of their existing workforce, allowing businesses to be more agile”, explains Ryan.
Organising your workforce on a project-by-project basis ensures that strong leadership capabilities are harnessed at the most crucial moments, and the specialised knowledge imparted by temp execs can create lasting positive impacts beyond the contractual agreement.
However, “employers should be weary of relying too heavily upon executive contracts as it can restrict the internal development of talented existing staff who wish to progress into more senior roles”, he adds.
What contracting means for executive level candidates
Many highly experienced and qualified individuals seek out contract or project-based work to help establish a better work-life balance.
“Contract work provides greater flexibility and puts time on the candidate’s side whilst still allowing them to do a great job,” explains Daniel Gilligan, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Accountancy Options.
Being hired on a temporary basis allows senior level execs to avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day management of staff and general workplace bureaucracy. Project-based careers often require senior professionals to take a more hands-on approach, which can be good for both the business and the individual.
Contract work can also give highly experienced c-suite professionals the chance to realign their careers. “I think that people who have been in permanent roles for a long time often turn to the contract market so they can gather their thoughts on what they want to do next”, Dan explains.
“The overall pay is also slightly above the market rate (as temp staff do not get the same FTE experience as permanent staff) which can make contracting more attractive”, says Dan.
However, temping may only be a viable option for highly experienced, mature candidates who’ve spent time with leading businesses and can afford to take the risk. “The downside of contracting is that there’s no permanence”, explains Ryan, and in some markets additional benefits offered by employers outweigh the extra pay. As The Hustle highlights, freelancing is easy for those who have savings to fall back on but many professionals can’t afford to take the risk due to financial commitments.
However given that the recruitment market in Melbourne is a booming candidate-driven market, c-suite execs shouldn’t generally be deterred from making the shift to contract work.