What contract candidates really want in 2021

by Elise Milburn - 5 months ago

Congratulations, everyone! We made it to the end of 2020. As always, December is a brilliant time for the recruitment industry. Contract candidates are lining up their next challenge for the new year, and businesses are signing off their upcoming business strategies and hiring plans for Q1.


However, following the rollercoaster that was this year, we’ve had many enquiries from employers about what they should be offering contractors - not to mention discussions with the candidates themselves about what they are looking for in their next role.


Let’s dive straight in.


More work, more development


Following the unpredictability of 2020, I created a couple of polls on LinkedIn to ask my connections on their opinions about software development projects going forward. With some offices still completely working from home and some projects being put on hold altogether, I wanted to create an open discussion about how businesses are still pushing forward with innovative development projects. 


50% of people voted that clients are “always pushing forward”, in comparison to the other 50% of votes being split between projects slowing down and projects being on hold for the time being. This is excellent news for contractors - the more work and progress being made at the end of 2020 will inevitably result in further progress for software developers in 2021.


Progression and responsibility


Following another poll on LinkedIn, the results tell us that contract candidates want one main aspect when looking for their next role: career progression.


Many full-time employees moving into contract positions have asked me the same question - “are there progression opportunities with contract roles?”


The answer is yes.


I have worked in the tech recruitment space for over 13 years, and in recent years I have seen the number of tech roles is consistently growing in a wide variety of my clients extend and renew their agreements with contractors growing and the number of available tech candidates is struggling to keep up, meaning businesses are keeping hold of their tech experts wherever and however they can.


Along with votes in the poll for progression and responsibility (44%), contract candidates are also looking for stability (31%) and to work with the latest techs (26%). Businesses hiring contractors in the new year should definitely keep these three points in mind when speaking to candidates in 2021.


IR35 advice


The infamous “IR35” seems to have been a buzzword throughout 2019 and 2020, and to begin with there was a lot of smoke and mirrors around the subject. Candidates were getting in touch with Oscar and our clients with a wide range of questions about IR35 and how it would impact them, and thankfully, we are on hand to offer our candidates as much advice and guidance as they may need.


With IR35 changes originally planned for April 2020, the new IR35 updates were postponed and will now be implemented in April 2021 for private sector contractors. This will mean that responsibility will be transferred from contractors to large and medium companies to assess IR35.


If you are a contract candidate and would like more clarity on how the changes will affect you in the new year, please feel free to get in touch with me for more information.




If 2020 has taught us anything about the tech industry, it is that tech experts can more often than not work from anywhere in the world. Working with a team in an office is always a brilliant way to boost morale, collaborate, plan projects and discuss objectives. However, it is now evident that tech roles can thankfully be fulfilled from anywhere at all, whether that’s in an office with 100 people, or at home in your living room.


Along with remote working, contract candidates have also made it clear that flexibility with working hours, especially whilst working from home, are vital. For businesses looking to hire contractors in 2021, ensure your policies involve some flexibility in terms of core hours, remote working and annual leave.


Get in touch


Christmas and New Year are now upon us, but that doesn’t mean that recruitment grinds to a halt! Whether you are a contractor looking for your next tech challenge, or a hiring manager looking for tech experts to join your team, get in touch with Oscar today.


Oscar Insights & Media