Beyond Jobserve – 6 reasons why IT contractors need a new job search strategy.

Back in the day, the task of finding an IT Contract was a fairly simple one: register with Jobserve, set up a job alert, and wait for the contracts to start rolling in and the phone to ring. For many contractors this approach hasn’t changed in years, but it’s likely to be less effective than it once was, so let’s examine why that might be.

Whilst it is certainly true that Jobserve still has a leading role in advertising IT contract jobs, the market dominance it once enjoyed has been nibbled away at and the recruitment advertising space has changed quite a bit over the last 10-15 years resulting in increased fragmentation in IT contract advertising, so let’s take a look at some of those changes.

1. Jobserve’s market positioning. 15 years ago, Jobserve was a UK focussed IT Job board, what would now be considered as a “niche” job board. As time has gone by, it has spread its wings both internationally and across all sectors of the job market. The cost of advertising has increased significantly as it has grown, and this has resulted in lower RoI and loss of appeal to some agency advertisers in the IT space. 

2.Traditional job boards have got their act together (or at least got their name out there). The likes of Reed, Jobsite and CV Library are continually spending huge sums on big media campaigns to attract candidates, and employers and agencies will obviously go to where the candidates are.
3.Employers are advertising contracts directly. As talent has become scarcer, employers have taken recruiters onto their payrolls as they need to focus more effort on attracting staff. We now increasingly see these savvy in-house recruiter teams advertising contract roles directly. Contract Spy, the direct IT contract aggregator, reports that direct ads on employers own websites and managed HR platforms account for around 40% of all direct IT contracts found.
4.New agencies. The last decade has seen the emergence of many new agencies that simply didn’t exist 10 or so years ago. Large agencies such as Harnham and Nigel Frank (both founded in 2006), have grown up in a social-media world where Jobserve is just one of many Job Boards competing for their business, and many of these relatively new agencies have chosen to place their business elsewhere.
5.Rise of LinkedIn and Indeed. Both these platforms have specific attractions for some segments of the market. Indeed offers free advertising for employers, so for many the attraction of free advertising on such a popular job site will prove irresistible. Whilst trying to search for contracts on LinkedIn may be a nightmare for contractors, the contracts are there in increasing numbers, as companies (and even some agencies) like the brand platform that Linkedin provides.
6.Community-based & niche job boards. Niche job boards such as Purely IT and Contract Recruit are now giving advertisers cost effective options to advertise contractor roles, and community-based platforms such as Stack Overflow and Work in Startups provide freelance opportunities rarely advertised elsewhere. In addition, the UK government’s digital marketplace often advertises IT contracts suitable for the independent contractor.

What we have witnessed over the last 10 years or so is increased fragmentation in IT contract advertising, a trend which is likely to continue and which will provide an extra challenge to contractors going forward, to a sector already dealing with the significant challenges of IR35.