Unearthing contract roles on LinkedIn – is it possible?

LinkedIn has certainly captured the imagination of companies who want to advertise their vacancies direct, and has captured a significant part of the directly advertised vacancy market. Its not hard to see why this should be the case, with companies able to host free pages showcasing their products and services, as well as recruitment videos and other info, in the effort to attract both active and passive candidates to their roles.

But whilst LinkedIn has achieved a strong position in the market amongst companies, the job seeker experience certainly leaves a lot to be desired. This has been the case for as long as Contract Spy can remember, and even the buyout of the platform by Microsoft in 2016 has seen no obvious improvement.

The main obstacles facing the IT Contractor searching LinkedIn are many and only too obvious. Firstly, there is no effective job-type categorisation at all – job-type is hidden away in the advanced search panel so most users won’t be aware of it, and although there is a check-box for “contracts” this will invariably turn up a majority of fixed-term employment options (as, unhelpfully, LinkedIn doesn’t provide a separate fixed-term employment job-type). Secondly, trying to identify jobs by function is similarly problematic, for although one can search by selecting “Information Technology” as the job function (again hiding away on the advanced search tab), search results returned will include “Dutch-speaking customer service representative”, “EMEA recruiting business partner – sales”, “Project Manager – Food & Drink Strategy” and all manner of other esoterica, as job posters are encouraged to specify multiple job functions on their postings. So contract jobs for IT specialists are to be found cheek-by-jowl with locum doctors, delivery drivers, supply teachers, and all manner of other temporary job roles. The final obvious shortcoming of LinkedIn as a searchable job source is that it only recognises salaries, expressed as a per annum figure, with no facility for the job poster (or the searcher) to specify a day rate. So how on earth can an IT Contractor find contracts on LinkedIn, and is it worth the effort?

The key to finding contracts on LinkedIn is using the correct search terms. Along with your particular technical skill, there are a number of searches that can work to unearth contracts that are advertised both by direct companies and recruitment agencies. “Contractor” is the obvious one to use, but beware that LinkedIn will also display jobs for “Consultant” (presumably because it works from some kind of synonym database) so treat this one with caution, as “Consultant” can appear higher in the search results than “contractor”. Consequently, top of your search results are likely to be permie consultant roles, which probably isn’t what you were looking for…

Far more accurate is to search using the term “day rate”. This will find those contract roles that specify a day rate and include that term somewhere in the text, which is fairly useful, only they can be in a minority of the total contracts posted. You are most likely to find agency-advertised jobs using this method, as they are much more “job board savvy” than the average company job poster, and are well aware of LinkedIn’s short-comings.

Another useful search term to use is “per day”, as sometimes contract roles are presented with rate information included in the body of the advert eg “£350 per day”. Again though, much more likely to turn up agency roles than direct company roles, and will also show up a variety of false positives, as companies often include blurb about how many transactions they process, customers they serve, and so on.

The final suggestion is to search using the term “IR35” as this is popular with recruitment agencies who will use the term to highlight roles that may be outside (or inside) IR35.

Unfortunately, then, there is no simple and convenient answer to find all the contract roles on LinkedIn, which is a shame, because there are often unique contracts advertised there which are not carried on other job boards. As a source of direct IT contracts, LinkedIn often yields around 3-5 new direct contracts a day, and sometimes more.  Contract Spy has to employ all the above mentioned terms, and more, in order to find the direct IT Contracts on LinkedIn which we bring you as part of our daily digest.