Candidate Shortages in the Contract and Temp Markets

The business world is constantly evolving, and the past 12 months has seen more change than most. With many organisations returning to growth and looking ahead to the future, it’s no surprise that the types of skills and roles they are focusing on has shifted too.

The demand in the contract and temp markets in particular has skyrocketed, and the competition for certain skill sets is fierce. Across our business, we are seeing the same candidates being put forward for multiple roles as employers scramble to secure their ideal people. To ensure they get the talent they need to succeed in today’s environment, organisations must be more flexible in their approach to hiring for contract and temp roles.

In this blog, we break down the market forces currently shaping candidate shortages in the contract and temp market and provide practical tips to help you fill your vacancies with the right people.

Rising Demand in the Contract and Temp Markets

Since the peak of COVID-19 last year, we have seen steady growth in the contract and temp markets. As you can see in the graph below, the number of these role types being advertised on Seek has risen steadily over the past several months, climbing from a little over 1,100 roles in May 2020 to more than 3,100 roles in March 2021.

Keep in mind, however, that this data from Seek is only the tip of the iceberg, with many employers choosing to rely on the networks and databases of a recruiter to fill short term roles rather than advertising on job boards


There are several potential reasons why we are seeing this trend. Because of the uncertainty we have endured over the past year, many employers may be favouring more adaptable employment options that allow them to scale their workforce up and down as required.

At the same time, travel restrictions have prevented business from accessing overseas talent, especially the local “traveller” market that normally supplies temp roles. As a result, we are seeing candidate shortages beginning to hit the market, making it difficult for employers to find the right people.

How to Secure the Temp and Contract Talent You Need

So, what can businesses do when faced with fierce competition and a diminishing pool of temp and contract candidates? To find the people you need in this tight market, it’s essential to be flexible and rethink your approach to hiring. Here are three key tips that will help you when the candidate supplies are running low:

1. Focus on transferrable skills

When hiring new team members, employers often look for direct and relevant experience, but when the number of people with the right industry know-how is few, concentrating too much on experience can mean missing out on a pool of quality talent that is waiting to be tapped.

The best way to get ahead of the competition is to be open to people from outside your industry or area who have the transferable skills to succeed in the role. With the right approach to assessing a candidate’s abilities and a focus on transferable expertise over direct industry experience, you can make your hiring process faster and boost your chances of finding exceptional people to fill your contract and temp vacancies.

2. Hire for potential

Good hiring decisions are not merely a question of experienced vs. inexperienced employees; sometimes, finding the ideal candidate means looking beyond the obvious choices and recognising those with the potential to not only thrive within the current role but continue to add value in the long term. This approach brings new people into the mix who may have plenty of ability but would not previously have been considered due to some areas of their experience not matching the role requirements. It also has the potential benefits of reducing salary costs and growing your pipeline of future leaders.

Key things to look for when hiring for potential include:

  • Quantifiable results, such as direct contributions to team or business goals.

  • Examples of continuous growth and learning new skills, such as by completing training courses.

  • A commitment to improving existing processes rather than sticking with the status quo.

  • A history of overcoming challenges or hurdles in their role.

3. Partner with a recruitment agency

When finding the right talent is tough, having a specialist recruiter by your side is invaluable. Ideally, your recruiter will be able to offer an extensive database of high-quality candidates, strong industry knowledge and the expertise to source great people even for the most hard-to-fill temp and contract roles.

Are you an employer feeling the pinch? Don’t miss out on top-performers in this challenging market – whether you are in Auckland, Wellington of Christchurch, reach out to us today to find out how we can help you secure the best people for your business.