Pro Rata – Cheap and Cheerful, Right? Wrong.

The most important lady in the world (of Quantica S&S’ blogging, at least) has been struck down with writers block, a mere..well, um, zero posts into her blogging career. Don’t worry, she’s far better than me and she’s back soon.

So, never one to back down from a challenge (read: opportunity to self indulge), step forward yours truly.

I deal solely in interims, so if you were hoping to be regaled with exciting tales of permanent recruitment, I’m afraid that you’re not only in the wrong place, but that you may have the worst taste in literature this side of Mills and Boon.

Interimming, then, as it is hilariously known around Quantica Towers, is my bag. Discussion around the entirely metaphorical water cooler (we employ the use of a good ol’ fashioned tap, in case you were wondering) recently turned to that of the pro-rata contract.

Why would we spend our precious time discussing such a mind-numbingly dry subject – especially with Master Chef approaching a climax and with the Apprentice starting soon? Well, partly because we’re mind-numbingly dry folks, but partly because it keeps on coming up.

As much as I despise the phrase, for mid-senior level positions pro-rata contracts tend to be a false economy. Now, before the well-practiced heckles regarding ‘greedy’ and ‘recruiter’ get so loud you can’t think, hear me out.

The argument goes – and those a little slow on the uptake might want to take the time to read this slowly, or perhaps even twice – ‘I know how we can save some money on an interim; we just won’t pay them as much money’. You may think I’m overcomplicating matters here.

You may be right.

So, in a world where two and two doesn’t always make four, how can I defend my claim that not paying people as much won’t save you money? Two examples, friends, two examples.

Firstly, a major bluechip company (let’s call them, Company X, though in reality they have far less dramatic moniker) asked me to find them a Technical Manager back in February. Already behind schedule, they were already audited up to the hilt (and doing well, by all accounts), but needed to make sure things stayed that way.

Now, let neither of us pretend that we don’t know how this story ends. After a two-stage interview process, after insisting on a local candidate, they plump for a pro-rata candidate instead. You will be unsurprised to hear that, now, my interim is there on a day rate as the pro-rata candidate took a perm job elsewhere.

Example numero due. Another bluechip company (this time, keeping with the spirit of drama, Company Z) ask for a Project Manager. The best that money can buy! A bargain at twice the price! Or, as it turns out, the best that a rather modest sum can buy.

I, ever the diligent recruiter, get to work. Four days turn into late nights, and five candidates are duly found. A bargain, indeed, at twice the price. Stalls set at the outset – £300 a day, pay rate. Two interviews ensue, presentations, tours, chats, and all is very genial and happy.

And then they offer, and our brave little project manager finds himself with faced with a pro rata offer. Out of pocket more than £10,000 for the year. Result? They spend a few weeks scratching around for a pro-rata alternative, find no-one, miss the boat on their favourite candidate and fall behind on their project.

Nobody wins.

Imagine you’re recruiting. You want to save money. You can save money – and these day rates seem awfully high. What would you do? Well, now put yourself in the candidate’s shoes.

Be honest, too.

If you were looking for a permanent job, and accept a pro-rata contract, would you stop looking for a perm job? Do your kids stop needing to eat at the end of a contract? Can you find work in less than a week?

I can’t. Contractors can’t, not often anyway. Pro-rata contracts take a very short-sighted view that doesn’t take into account the situation of the contractor. Unless they have no commitments or a nest-egg the size of a wrecking-ball, most people can’t afford to do the ‘honourable thing’ and stay the course.

Not when offered a perm job.

Go smart. Go day rate.


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Filed under Completely Serious Without The Slightest Hint of Humour (or Sarcasm)., Interims, Recruitment


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