Why is the same Canberra IT contract job advertised by 10 different recruitment agencies on SEEK?

If you are new to Canberra, or just looking, you may have noted that each ICT contract role advertised on SEEK appears to be advertised by seemingly hundreds of different recruitment agencies.

The exact same job title with the exact same role responsibilities and selection criteria points posted by five, ten, sometimes twenty recruitment agencies!


That’s the nature of ICT contracting recruitment in Canberra. Due to the Federal Government’s need to follow their procurement rules and guidelines they use ICT Contractor Recruitment Panels which quite often have several hundred panel members. It is not unusual at all for a Federal Government organization to release an RFQ for a single ICT contractor to twenty different recruitment companies on their Panel. All of these recruitment companies then advertise the same role on seek and call the same 100 suitable IT contractors in Canberra.

After twenty years of recruiting ICT professionals for the Federal Government I have developed quite a few sayings. The most apt in this instance is one of my favorites: “It’s so fair, it’s unfair!”

If you are new to Canberra this is probably your first introduction to the notion of fair and open federal government procurement processes…and it certainly won’t be the last!

Who should you choose?

How to choose between all those recruitment companies advertising the same Federal Government contract?

Be careful! If you are new to either Canberra or ICT contracting you need to know you are swimming with sharks! Most ICT recruiters are trained by their employers to negotiate contractor pay rates down and negotiate client charge rates up, increasing their opportunity for their fee margin (the bit in between what the contractor gets paid and what the client is charged). If you are new to ICT contracting you should be aware that in dealing with an ICT contracting recruitment agent for the first time there is a good chance that you are like a lamb being salivated over by a wolf who’s been ‘round the forest a few times.

If you don’t know what your true contracting value is and what peers of your calibre are receiving you may well end up talking to a recruitment agent that is happy to guide your rate way down to the lower ends of what is possible with the client while planning to submit your application at the higher parameter that he knows that the client is willing to pay for skills and capability such as yours. “Mwaa ha ha ha!” he is laughing as he locks you in at a pay rate that will make him, and his firm, the biggest possible, opportunistic fee margin. If could be as high as $20, $30 or even $50 per hour!

However, if you understand this is the potential danger, like all experienced Canberra ICT contractors do, you can make it work in your favor and ensure you obtain the maximum rate possible and that the client doesn’t get hit by excessive (opportunistic) recruitment company fees by one of the known wolves in the forest or sharks in the sea.

Having the contract available to you through multiple Federal Government recruitment company panel members means you can shop around the recruitment agencies that are all advertising the same contract position. If you ask each of them what their contractor fee margins are you will soon discover those who you would want to deal with and those who you most certainly don’t.

Just as many recruitment agents are trained to negotiate contractors down and clients up, so too are many trained to respond to the question: “What contractor fee margin does your company charge?”

It goes something like this: “The level of our contractor fee margins are our business as the contract with the client for your services is a contract that they have with us not you. What should be important to you is that I can get you a good rate.”

Now, if I sold my house and the real estate agent wouldn’t tell me how much fee percent he would take for the service, I’d find another agent.

If a bank offered me a credit card, but insisted it wasn’t my business to know what the interest charges would be, I definitely wouldn’t accept it.

Try honesty. We do, and it works

I never could understand why both clients and contractors are expected to procure the services of an ICT contracting recruitment agency without having visibility of the fee margins charged.

Always remember that you, as a capable and skilled ICT professional, have the power when applying for Federal Government ICT contracting positions. Due to the nature of Federal Government procurement rules and guidelines they are forced to issue their ICT contracting roles to multiple (sometimes many) recruitment services providers listed on their ICT contracting panels. If you apply to one recruitment company for an advertised ICT contracting role in Canberra you can be sure that at least three other companies also have the ability to submit your application to that very same role.

Just like an old retired general from the Army once told me: “Power is the ability to walk away”.

With so many ICT recruitment companies working the same Federal Government ICT contract opportunities in Canberra YOU have the power!

Keep walking away until you find a recruitment company you feel you can trust and work with.



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