The Difference Between Contract & Permanent Recruitment

What is the difference between contract and permanent recruitment?

You have decided recruitment is the way forward, good choice! The next step is understanding the different types of recruitment.

Both contract and permanent recruitment involve looking for candidates, networking and finding new clients. However, the two roles have a few differences depending on a client’s requirements. 

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Contract and Permanent Recruitment Comparison


Feature Contract Recruitment Permanent Recruitment
Duration of Employment Fixed-term, ranging from a few weeks to several years Indefinite period, with the expectation of long-term employment
Recruitment Focus Short-term projects and immediate needs Long-term organisational growth and stability
Candidate Pool Specialists and experts seeking flexibility and variety Individuals seeking stability and career progression
Compensation Often higher hourly or daily rates due to the short-term nature and expertise required Annual salary with potential benefits (e.g., healthcare, retirement plans)
Benefits Flexibility, higher potential earnings, varied projects Job security, career development, company benefits
Commission Structure Based on the contractor’s day rate, incentivising multiple short-term placements Often a percentage of the candidate’s annual salary, rewarding long-term successful placements
Client Relationship Dynamic, with frequent changes to meet project needs Long-term, focusing on understanding and fulfilling organisational culture and goals
Recruiter Role Fast-paced, focusing on immediate client needs and quick placements Strategic, aiming to understand deep organisational needs and candidate career goals
Career Path Opportunities for rapid movement and diversification of experience Potential for deep industry specialisation and long-term client relationships

Contract recruitment

When businesses and organisations implement, upgrade or make changes to their software systems, they often hire specialists for the project duration. These specialists are often hired on a ‘contract’ basis, usually for weeks or months at a time.

These ‘contractors’ are experienced professionals that are paid an hourly or daily rate. Contractors working on very large projects can find their placement extended, and in some cases, contractors can be on-site for a year or two.

As a recruiter specialised in hiring contract consultants, you earn a commission based on the day rate of the contractors you have placed with clients. As a result, the more contractors you have working on placements you have made, the more your monthly commission is.

What is the average day like for a contract recruiter?

  • Time is precious. You’ll use our candidate database and your network to find candidates with the ideal skills who can start working at short notice.
  • There will be instances in which some niche skills are required, the client has particular requirements or the job is in a new or difficult location. You’ll use your network to find the right people for the role. There is always someone who knows someone.
  • Once your candidate passes the interview and signs the contract, you will communicate regularly with the client and the contractor to ensure that both parties are satisfied.

You will build rapport with current and potential clients, find out about new opportunities, follow hot leads and get new business.

  • Forward-thinking is the key. Keeping the database up to date and speaking regularly with potential candidates will keep you ahead of the game. You will already know who you will send to the next job before getting the client’s request.

Permanent recruitment

When a client requests a candidate for a permanent role, the goal is to find the dream candidate whose ideal role is the position you are trying to fill. Once through the interview process, the successful candidate will sign an indefinite contract based on an annual salary.

One of the rewards of working on the Permanent Team is the feeling of success when you match the ideal candidate and employer together. Your commission is based on the placed candidates’ salary and the rates you have agreed with the client.

What is a day like in the permanent team?

  • You’ll build rapport with current and potential clients. Likeability and resilience are very important to get new business.
  • You’ll be on the lookout for candidates who match specific client’s requirements -such as location, skills and budget- and who have availability to start when required. Listening to the candidates and understanding their motivations and needs is crucial to understand their expectations.
  • You’ll manage the client to align their expectations to the budget and provide solutions.
  • Communicating effectively is key to be able to demonstrate to both your candidate and client that they are right for each other.
  • There will be competition. You’ll get the best candidates and pitch them to your clients before other agencies do. On the other hand, candidates might be considering different job offers; having the best opportunity to suit them can be challenging.

The world of recruitment is fast-paced but very fulfilling. There are many benefits to being a 360 recruiter, like getting to speak with lots of people from different backgrounds and building relationships with some of the IT industry’s most talented candidates and biggest businesses across the globe. It is a very rewarding career that gives you the opportunity to make a positive impact in other people’s lives by finding the job they are looking for or even the one they always dreamed of.

Ready to start your career in recruitment? Check out our latest vacancies or get in touch with our recruitment team. Looking for tips? Check out our article on how to start your career in recruitment and stay up to date with the latest insights on our blog page.

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After working at Whitehall for a number of years now, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get into recruitment sooner. The company values, team spirit and the atmosphere is what makes Whitehall the place to be. On top of that, the commission structure, company rewards and career progression are second to none and I am excited for what my future holds and the goals I can reach.

Nicola Saxham - Senior Consultant – International (DACH) team

I have worked at Whitehall for a long time now and it has been a pleasure to be part of the company’s continued growth. It is an exceptional place to work, with a family orientated mentality, and you are rewarded for working hard and being dedicated. I have loved my time here so far and look forward to progressing further.

Jason Wood – Credit Control Supervisor

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant,  I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator

I joined the company as an entry-level consultant in the newly formed Key Accounts team back in 2010. Throughout those years I have progressed within the company and have had multiple promotions along the way and have never once looked back. At the moment, I’m looking to continue the growth of my team by adding to the current headcount and in supporting their development to help them to achieve their aspirations.

Adam Edgell – Associate Director – Key Accounts Delivery

The environment here is second to none, I am constantly learning and improving thanks to those around me and from the support of my managers. This is a company that rewards hard work and gives you all the tools you need to develop and succeed. I would recommend Whitehall to anyone, from those looking to start their journey into recruitment to those who already have a number of years’ experience as you will be joining a close-knit team and have the opportunity to thrive and work with some of the best in the industry.

Nathan Joseph – Principal Consultant – UK Permanent – ERP & IT Client Development

Since joining Whitehall Resources, they have given me the opportunity to grow and develop from a trainee position. Whitehall Resources is the ideal company if you are looking for career progression.

Kirsty Small – Contracts Administrator

I joined Whitehall with no experience in recruitment or IT and I could barely use a computer myself. Since joining, I have built a career and a joined a family here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given and the guidance I have received from my managers and colleagues (friends). With hard work and a bit of tenacity, Whitehall can give you the chance to change your life for the better.

Jacob Lee – Executive Consultant – UK SAP Contracts

I joined Whitehall Resources with zero recruitment experience and a background in pharmaceuticals. Fast forward six years I have been promoted on multiple occasions and can vouch first hand that Whitehall Resources is a great place for career progression whilst having lots of fun along the way. On top of the career available you get to win lots of incentives including holidays abroad and overall, it is a great place to work.

Georgia Pike - Executive CSM - CSM

After joining Whitehall, I have really found myself within recruitment and even achieved rookie of the year! I am continuously learning and growing. I am looking forward to challenging myself in the future and seeing what I can achieve here at Whitehall.

Hannah Pile – Consultant – UK SAP Perm

I joined Whitehall in late 2015 as IT Support Engineer and have now progressed to Team Lead. Whitehall is a fantastic place to work, where hard work and a strong work ethic is rewarded in both Sales and Operations alike.

Dan Appleby – IT Team Lead