By Danny Aspinall
With a digital skills gap still yet to be successfully bridged, finding the right AWS talent for your organization can pose challenges—in particular, how to attract the professionals you need when supply is low and demand is high.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just an issue facing those businesses ready to make their next permanent hire. When on the hunt for AWS contractors, many hiring managers and business leaders are struggling to attract top talent, slowing their digital transformations, AWS implementations, and cloud innovations.
So what can you do about it?
Besides playing your part in bridging the skills gap, knowing what matters most to AWS freelancers when accepting a contract offer can give you a competitive edge and help you secure more top talent for your team.
The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition provides a market-leading insight into the Amazon Web Services community.
It’s unlikely to come as a surprise but pay will always be the biggest motivator for any AWS contractor. The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition, the largest independent study of AWS professionals in the world, reported it as the biggest influence on whether a freelancer would accept a contract offer (70%).
One of the most problematic implications of the skills gap is inflated pay rates, with an inadequate amount of talent driving up the market rate of qualified professionals. As a result, many employers and hiring managers are facing the prospect of paying higher rates for lower-value candidates, with an influx in demand meaning if you’re not willing to pay, someone else likely is.
This can make negotiating rates challenging too, as contractors may have more than one option on the table. This is one of the reasons that hiring managers in our guide listed the increased competition for talent (44%) and struggling to pay the market rate/what candidates demand (25%) among their top staffing challenges over the next year.
With this in mind, if you want to attract top contractors, be prepared to put your money where your mouth is—especially for highly desirable contractors with experience, expertise, and certification!
Almost two-thirds (61%) of contractors in our Careers and Hiring Guide told us that the ability to work remotely influences their decision to accept a project or not.
We’ve seen remote working skyrocket up the priority lists of both permanent and contract professionals across all industries since 2020, and while the tech industry has always been ahead of the game when it comes to working from home, it’s clear that remote working is a key priority for many professionals across the AWS community.
A significant 35% of contractors told us that they never travel for work, with another 35% reporting that they commute rarely. In fact, not one contractor told us that they always travel for work, while just 9% say they usually travel and 21% sometimes travel, signaling that remote work is very much the norm for contractors.
Interestingly, however, almost two-thirds (62%) of those contractors also told us that they would be prepared to travel for a job moving forward, suggesting that remote working is more of a preference than an expectation.
That being said, attracting the most desirable contractors in the age of the skills gap is all about accommodating as many of these preferences as possible—so try to offer the option of working from home to ensure you’re not missing out on top talent.
This desire for flexibility is also evident not just in where contractors work, but when—with 38% of contractors telling us that flexible hours influence whether or not they accept a contract.
It’s worth remembering that the opportunity to be more flexible (and ‘be your own boss’) is what inspires many professionals to become contractors in the first place, so it’s likely they’ll want to retain some sense of autonomy.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you might not be your contractor’s only customer—although 38% of freelancers in our Careers and Hiring Guide are only working for one person at a time, the average number of clients per contractor was three.
Furthermore, the freelancers that took part in our survey work an average of 33 hours a week, although this varies between 2 and 70 hours per week. Successful collaboration with contractors relies on your understanding that they’re not your permanent employee, and you’re likely not their only client, granting them greater freedom and flexibility as a result.
With a third (33%) of permanent professionals in our Careers and Hiring Guide receiving flexible hours as a work benefit, it’s possible you already have the operational structures and processes in place to accommodate this autonomy. But if you don’t, look to explore how you can adjust your work practices to cast a wider net when looking for your next temporary hire.
According to the contractors we surveyed, recurring challenges they face include a lack of communication from clients (36%), clients changing the scope of a project (25%), and the unrealistic expectation of clients (20%).
So, it’s key that you understand the size and complexity of your project—factors that a fifth of freelancers (20%) tell us influence their decision to accept a contract—and just as importantly, communicate this with candidates from the offset.
Contractors are responsible for their own time and workload management, meaning there can be significant implications to their earning potential and output if you undersell or oversell your project’s complexity.
To better gauge the scale of the task on offer, it’s useful to benchmark your contracts against others on the market. In our Careers and Hiring Guide, we found that the average total contract length was six months, and although two years and four months was the longest contract length, just 12% of freelancers have worked on projects that have lasted 12 months or more.
It’s also worth considering the technologies used in your project, as not only does this impact the complexity of the job at hand, but it also influences 61% of contractors in whether or not they take it on.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a permanent or temporary hire; talent wants to join a positive working environment.
Your company’s culture, values, and ethos all play a significant role in creating an attractive work environment that celebrates its employees and empowers them to produce their best work. But to attract top candidates, it’s imperative that you walk the walk, and don’t just talk the talk.
Many organizations claim to have these desirable qualities, but unless you’re able to prove it in the work you produce and the culture you cultivate, it’s unlikely you’ll have the magnetism you need to attract the best contractors.
Freelancers in our Careers and Hiring Guide told us that quality standards (30%) and management philosophy (29%) have a direct influence on their willingness to take on a contract, so strive to implement high standards and lead by example with authentic buy-in from your senior team.
While a contractor may not be a permanent part of your team, it’s vital that they feel welcomed, supported, and invested in your project objectives and wider company goals—and creating an attractive working environment is the very foundation of this.
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