IT contractors cut out the middle-men

A new Australian exchange allows freelance IT specialists to negotiate directly with corporations for short-term contracts

Resource Exchange -- an Australian b2b exchange for IT professionals and those who wish to hire them -- is due to go live 1 June, enabling freelance IT specialists to negotiate directly with corporations for short-term contracts. It will also provide IT specialists the tools to post their skills and availabilities on the site, and companies can rent out their IT professionals when they are not being used in-house.

"The initial stage where we've had the most interest is from organisations looking for access to very short-term requirements," Steven Hayes, managing director of Resource Exchange (REX) told ZDNet Australia. "Where they want a specialist for three days, or a week or two weeks. For IT recruitment companies the margin is small so they're not interested."

The idea to provide an opportunity for companies to put their employees on the market came from initial market research, according to Hayes, but so far managers have been wary of signing up their employees. However, this changes when they see the full benefits, he added.

"Managers have budgets and goals they have to make," Hayes explained. "One manager we spoke to realised that by allowing his guys to do short-term contracts he could offer his staff greater job security by ensuring they are active," he said, adding that managers can choose which contracts their employees work, and veto inappropriate ones.

However, the majority of professionals available are independent contractors, according to Hayes. They rank themselves according to skills, years and experience. After the contract, employers can rank the contractor's performance in categories such as good, professional and unsatisfactory. The contractor then decides whether he wants the ranking displayed on the site.

"That way, if you see someone has done three jobs, but has no rankings displayed, you might make some assumptions," said Hayes. "It's more about giving the contractors some feedback and encouraging them to do the best they can."

The contractor gets a higher margin rate because he deals directly with the company, and only pays a subscription fee to REX, Hayes said. This allows people to value their time depending on how much they want to work. "So you can charge AU$50 (£19) per hour rather than your usual AU$75, if you really want to work. Conversely, if you don't want to work but will if paid enough you can set your fees at AU$1,000 a day," said Hayes, adding that it allowed individuals and companies to get a feel for if they were competitive.

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