As an engineering manager, hiring contract engineers can seem like an attractive option to quickly scale your team's capabilities. However, managing and integrating contract engineers comes with unique challenges you may not face with full-time hires. In this post, we’ll explore common issues managers encounter with contract hiring, along with potential solutions.

Key Challenges When Hiring Contract Engineers

Ensuring technical competency – Without much ramp-up time, you’ll need contractors fully proficient in your stack. Otherwise, you risk slow productivity.

Integrating with your team – Contractors may feel like outsiders unless you proactively include them in collaboration and culture.

Managing remotely – Communication and accountability can suffer if contractors work from other locations.

Navigating legal and financial factors – From hourly rates to IP protections, contractors bring extra legal and financial considerations.

Dealing with availability limitations – Unlike full-time staff, contractor availability is restricted by hours and contracts.

Building recruiter relationships – Contract agencies don’t always prioritize the perfect skill fit over their own margins.

Underestimating oversight needs – Part-time contractors require extra management time compared to employees.

Retaining knowledge – When contracts end, documentation and training are essential to retain accumulated knowledge.

Keys to Success When Hiring Contract Engineers

Vet technical abilities thoroughly – Conduct technical assessments, review past work, and leverage peer recommendations to ensure a skills match.

Promote inclusion and collaboration – Make contractors feel welcome through introductions, social events, and equal treatment.

Set clear remote work expectations – Require strong communication skills and provide tools like Slack or Miro to keep contractors in sync.

Consult legal/finance and budget accordingly – Anticipate higher hourly costs and plan for legal protections early when possible.

Stagger contracts and be flexible – Offset availability limitations by overlapping contracts and accommodating critical contractors.

Find specialized recruiters – Develop lasting recruiter relationships who understand your niche needs.

Provide hands-on leadership – Allot more 1:1 time for contractors and connect them with team leaders.

Capture institutional knowledge – Debrief outgoing contractors, document processes, and schedule overlaps to retain learning.

With deliberate effort, engineering managers can reap the benefits of contract talent while avoiding the pitfalls. Just remember to onboard and manage contract engineers as integral members of your team. With the right strategy, they can provide skills and bandwidth to propel your projects forward.


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