How the Tech Contract Recruitment market has changed 2022

How the SW Tech Contract Recruitment market has changed

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 2 years since COVID-19 caused the biggest disruption to the UK labour market seen in modern times. One of the questions that we are still asked regularly is: “How has the tech contract recruitment market changed?”

We’ve recruited contractors for the web industry during the recovery from the dot-com bubble bursting & the Financial Crisis. Whilst there are significant key differences between those recoveries and the current pandemic – we have seen some similar trends emerging, in the UK’s tech & web design contract market. Here, Ben, our Contract Delivery Manager shares his take:

Less applicants

In the months following the first period of lockdown – there was a massive influx of available or furloughed candidates. As the month’s progressed, recruitment worked its way back on to the agenda and by September 2021 – it seemed to be top of the priority list. This increased demand, combined perhaps with a deeper sense of loyalty (for employers that were supportive) – has led to a noticeable shortage of applicants.

Fewer high-quality CVs

Experienced contractors tend to have well-polished CVs and great track records. However, less applicants & fewer people in the marketplace – inevitably results in a drop in the number of quality CVs for each role. We have had situations in competitive markets – where a quality CV has been enough to secure an offer of a contract.

Higher rates

In the immediate aftermath of lockdowns etc. contractor rates took a hit to the tune of around 20% on average. In the second half of 2021 that has been regained and probably an extra 10 – 15% added on top (potentially more for certain roles). If we took an average Senior Developer at £500 p/day as an example, they may have been forced to drop to £425 in 2020 but now be earning £550 in 2021. Also, a noticeable impact of IR35 seems to have been to drive the average daily rates higher – with clients typically picking up the bulk of the extra tax & NI.

Shorter contracts

The number of contract vacancies and rates may be on the rise, but we haven’t seen the return of 6 month plus contracts just yet. Perhaps this has been influenced by the introduction of IR35 to the private sector & we’ll see longer initial bookings in 2022. Our average initial contract length has been 3 months but over 95% are extended at least once.


When permanent staff were working reduced hours or were furloughed, several our clients were offering 3 or 4 days per week to new contractors. Many projects have now fallen behind and the recent preference has been for full-time, 5 days per week for contract roles.

Specific experience

Because clients and recruiters are now receiving less CVs – it may be time for Clients to be a little more flexible with the skills and experience required. The rise of remote working has made the market extremely competitive and if a contractor can “do the job” – it’s probably worth making them an offer – even if they don’t quite tick every box.

Tougher sign off

When companies had furloughed staff and/or were making redundancies, decisions to bring in contractors typically needed to be made at a very senior level. It’s still an uncertain time for many businesses, however, the sign off process has eased a bit in recent months.

The Perm Market is back

At certain points in 2020 – it seemed as though the permanent recruitment market had ground to a halt. In some ways this worked to the advantage of contractors, clients being able to bring them in to solve short term needs. Even though permanent recruitment is now in full swing – the overall level of demand for resource has increased. A successful contract market needs high level of overall demand to fuel it, and therefore, we are hopeful of a buoyant 2022 for ADLIB Contract.

The emergence of new products and services

Over the last 2 years there have been a variety of new products & services developed in response to COVID-19. Other businesses have had the opportunity to develop a remote working model & adapt their offering to suit their customer base in changing times. We expect those types of business to continue to provide well-paid, stable contract opportunities throughout 2022.

Written by

Contract Delivery Manager

User Experience & Design, Technology, Marketing & Agency

View profile

Ben Halligan