1st November 2018

What are the top skills to look for in a contract employee?


If your recruitment agency focuses on placing fixed-term contract and temporary members of staff, there are constant opportunities to match businesses with the right talent. However, this continuous need for skilled workers can be daunting; how can you find good employees to meet your clients’ needs?
Naturally, the skillsets you are looking for will depend on the type of positions you are trying to fill. For example, office-based jobs will require people with a knowledge of software programmes such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Equally, there may be roles that require certifications for particular fields, while people-facing roles will require workers with strong customer service skills.
But beyond industry specifics, there are universal strengths that make good fixed-term contract and temporary employees stand out from the crowd. Here are some of the additional qualities you should look out for when seeking new talent, to ensure your clients get return on their investment.

High levels of motivation and a can-do attitude

Any short or medium-term worker will need to hit the ground running, so it’s good to look for candidates that pride themselves on adding value quickly, and want to find solutions to business problems.
When you’re getting to know potential contractors, ask them to provide examples of previous work scenarios where they have made a difference. You may also want to give them some scenarios they could face in an upcoming role, to see how they would solve key challenges.


Contract workers need to switch quickly from one job to another, so you need to find candidates that can adjust to new surroundings. They might need to focus on different aspects of their skillset from job to job, which requires flexibility and an ability to play to their strengths.
If you have a candidate with experience in multiple areas, you may need to tweak their CV to ensure their suitability shines through to each client. Additionally, if you successfully place that candidate, you will need to brief them clearly on what area of expertise secured the role, so that they know where to focus their efforts.


It sounds obvious, but good workers put in hard graft, and therefore you need to ensure that potential candidates have high standards of punctuality and strong levels of commitment. A reliable contractor doesn’t just turn up on time; they stick to agreed deadlines and deliver top quality work, as well as managing the expectations of their colleagues and managers.
If a potential employer has a particular set of values or responsibilities that the successful employee will need to meet, it always pays to brief candidates during the recruitment process. This way, they will exceed expectations and get off on the right foot – setting the tone for both their contract and your abilities as a recruiter.

Good organisation

Given the nature of short-term contract work, successful candidates need to deliver value quickly. This is only possible if they are well organised and can identify which tasks are the greatest priority, to maximise their productivity.
Quizzing potential candidates on their organisational skills is a good way to determine which workers are able to manage their time and workload effectively. You may want to set out scenarios for them to analyse, such as giving them a to-do list and asking them to sort it in order of importance, or suggesting situations in which strong organisation is key and listening to how they would approach each challenge.
With all temporary and fixed-term contract candidates, the key is not just to evaluate their organisational and other skills for your own knowledge, but to communicate these strengths to your clients. So next time you’re vetting someone for upcoming roles, make sure you share your qualification process with the businesses on your books, so they know how seriously you take short-term contract opportunities.
Don’t let day-to-day admin get in the way of finding good contractors: ETZ’s back office software automates operational tasks like timesheet management, expense claims and invoicing, so you can focus on searching for talent. Book a demo to see how we can add value to your recruitment agency.

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