It’s 2017. The days of the ‘job for life’ are long over and for many the restrictive boundaries of the traditional 9-to-5 are unthinkable. Our contractors take this flexible lifestyle further to embrace constant change and challenge, new faces and new projects, coming out of each year with the satisfaction of a job well done, quick wins won – and hopefully an ever longer resume of marketing achievements. Over the past few years we’ve seen the contractor market grow, with more marketers trying out the rollercoaster of moving between marketing PAYE contracts or choosing the flexibility of a freelance contractor lifestyle.  We see no reason why this won’t continue into 2017.

Constant change is the very nature of the beast –and the contractor market is also in a state of flux, affected by influencing factors from the national and world stage. As such, prospects for 2017 are of greater interest, though a contractor’s adaptability alone can ensure they are better equipped to weather a storm than their fixed colleagues.

What does 2017 have in store?


A bit of a rule-change: IR35

A bit of a boring one this one, but one to be aware of. We’ll try to keep it simple and avoid jargon.

In brief, IR35 refers to the rules dictating how contractors are classified – as self-employed or as an employee. Which category you fall in will affect how you are taxed.

If you’re self-employed, the government sees you as in control of when, how and where you work; if you’re an employee, this means you’ll have fixed hours, may be required to work at one location or under the direct control of a manager or superior.

The rules and regulations have not really changed. However, as of April 2017, their enforcement will be handled differently – with the government monitoring umbrella companies and public sector bodies rather than checking contractors on an individual basis. This should make it quicker and easier for them to carry out the checks in public sector, meaning greater monitoring and more pressure to get your classification right. Whether or not this will be rolled out to the private sector too is something to watch out for in future.

Now over to the exciting stuff…


The continued rise of the Super Contractor

This isn’t just about IT contractors. Marketers with special skills or experience in certain niche areas are also in high demand and in a real position to capitalise on these favourable economics of supply and demand.  We’ve found employers are willing to pay a high premium for real in-demand skills or hard to come by sector experience (i.e. Cybersecurity). If you’re lucky enough to find your unique talents in demand, 2017 looks set to be lucrative year.


Key growth areas:

What are these niche skillsets and sector specific experience you mention?

There are many skills in demand, here are a couple we’ve seen more of in 2016:

  • Marketing automation

Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce/Pardot, Hubspot are probably the big 4 but as you can see from the automation section of Chief Martech’s incredible technology marketing landscape there are many more…

automation landscape





Companies have a big need for contractors to optimise and run their automation programs.

  • Marketing analytics –

Companies today are calling for datascientists to help them make big data more than just a buzzword. Analytics can make all the difference when it comes to optimising web and digital channels and campaigns, making sense of and using customer data and informing business decision-making.

  • Social listening

This is part of an analytics role, but it is also quite a specialist skill, requiring expertise with multiple tools (e.g. Sprinklr and Sysomos).  Here’s our example role – a social analytics and reporting manager .

Never fear, there’s still a lot of need for generalist marketing contractors too, and we still have many roles where a broad, flexible skillset is invaluable.


The Brexit Effect

In the wake of Brexit confusion this year, we saw many permanent marketing jobs go on hold or transform into short-term contracts. This was an instinctive reaction to prospective insecurity, rather than a response to any real change. Months on, it was back to business as usual.  However, we’ll have to watch how events play out to see if there could in fact be a bigger impact to come – though admittedly 2017 is likely too early.

Prospective restrictions on bringing European talent to our shores, while likely a net negative for our economy, could be a boon for contractors. If companies face an increased struggle to hire in key skills areas, or are forced to pay high salaries for the remaining talent within our borders, the obvious solution will be to turn increasingly to specialist marketing contractors for time-limited assistance on crucial projects, or to plug a talent gap within an important period.  Super contractors will be set to rise, again.


If you’re planning on refreshing your marketing team with new talent or thinking of progressing your own marketing career, contact Melvin Day on for advice and recruitment support.


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