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Understanding the roles for which teams should hire an IT contractor or a permanent IT employee is a common challenge tech departments face. Employers want to know where they’ll get the most bang for their buck and the right talent for each project. However, there isn’t a set list of roles that are best as contractors and those that are best hired on full-time. More often, it depends on the company’s needs, the size of the talent pool and the overall goal.

To help you determine if you need a permanent IT employee or a contractor, focus on the skills needed to complete upcoming projects and the length of each project, rather than the specific tech role your organization says is open. Let’s talk this through.

Why Hire a Contractor

If the job is seasonal, or your industry is, it’s a great idea to hire an IT contract worker. Since you may not need an employee to fill that role during down time, it’s not wise to spend money on salary, health insurance and other benefits while the employee does little work and has few opportunities for growth.

Are you hiring a team for a specific project? If you know the length of time you need an employee or a team, or at the very least an estimated deadline, contract workers are the way to go. In this case, both the employer and the contractor are aware of the what the project entails and the time required. No one will be surprised when the project ends and work runs out.

In today’s market, professionals have a lot of options and companies may not be able to find the tech specialist needed on a full-time basis. The benefits of the gig economy attract a lot of people, giving them a sense of flexibility and freedom. And in some cases, IT contractors can make more money than salaried employees. For some jobs, contractors may be your only option.

Contract-to-hire, also known as temp-to-perm, gives you a chance to “try before you buy.” If you’re unsure what you need for a role or who can fill it best, starting with a contract worker serves as a long-term interview or probation period. If at the end of the contract, you both feel it is a good fit, you can hire the individual full time. If not, the contract has ended and you are under no obligation to hire that worker. It offers a new level of transparency and control for both parties.

Why Hire a Permanent Employee

If you have ongoing projects hiring one or several permanent IT employees is the way to go. You know the work will be there long term and you want a team that is committed and cohesive.

If you want to hire someone at the manager level or higher, or you want to find someone you can train to one day fill a management role, permanent placement is often best. Both employer and employee will be aware of the goal and feel more comfortable working together to fit that role. Find an employee that is seeking an opportunity for growth and stability.

When projects require more generalist skills, or you find someone that can perform multiple tasks that would otherwise have to be filled by several contractors, consider hiring a permanent employee. While permanent employees require additional overhead costs, a talented worker who provides consistent value and is constantly needed for work is worth the investment.

Pros and Cons

Now you see there are appropriate times for both hiring options. Contract workers can save you money since you only pay employees when you need them. However, you may spend more on hiring over time if you find you need many employees or have to re-hire to replace contract workers.

When you need specific skills for only a specific amount of time, hire a contractor. If you’re looking for permanency, a chance to train and mold employees into leaders, hiring full-time or temp-to-perm is your better option. Consider your short-term needs, long-term goals and budget to determine the best choice for your company.

When you need specific skills but only for a specific amount of time or you just can’t find a qualified employee willing to come on full-time, you know it’s time to partner with a trusted recruiting firm to help you find the right talent.