As the tech industry continues to grow and change, so have engineering consulting contracts. Over the past decade, ERG has seen different hiring trends come and go. Working with a technical recruiter and their consulting firm can help you align your expectations correctly throughout the contract hiring process. Pairing up with a reputable company can help you immensely when it comes to landing a contract. They’ll be able to prep you for the interview with the client, handle the negotiations process, and ensure you find an exciting project that enhances your skill set.

For seasoned engineers who continue to make contract work their career, and new grads who are considering contracts, we wanted to share some tidbits of information that may be helpful. Keep these in mind while you interview and prepare for your next contract role.

  • Expect to be tested on your skills

Many hiring managers are using short tests or homework assignments prior to bringing an engineer on board. This helps determine whether the project is a good fit for both parties upfront. You may take the test during the onsite interview, or they’ll send it to your consulting firm to administer. Shifting towards testing helps managers make more confident hiring decisions, and allows you to make sure your skills are up to par for the role.

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  • Expect “next steps” to happen more quickly than a permanent role

Don’t be surprised if the process moves quickly. Large companies may have more streamlined processes for bringing aboard a consultant than they would for a permanent role. The standard steps you can expect after discussing the role with your recruiter are: a phone screen, an onsite interview, and a short test of your skills. Managers who have an urgent need typically like these to get done in the span of a week, depending on what other pressing issues are on their plates. This of course is variable company to company, project to project. Your technical recruiter can give you specific insight in regards to the contract you’re discussing.

  • Expect to talk through your problem-solving

As we discussed in the point about hiring managers testing engineers, you can expect to show your skills in an interview. However, the distinction here is that many hiring managers will want you to walk them through your process for arriving at the solution. Many managers will use a whiteboard problem. They’ll hand you a coding problem, a marker and say, “Go!” Despite whether the answer you arrive at is correct or not, the manager is trying to see your problem solving process.

  • Expect to be paid by the hour, as opposed to salaried

By and large engineering contract compensation is talked about in terms of an hourly rate, as opposed to an annual sum. In your initial conversation with your technical recruiter, work together to arrive at an hourly rate that suits your skill set.  If you have an annual number in mind, you can easily calculate your hourly rate. To get this number, divide your annual salary by 2080, which is the number of hours you’d work if you were at the job 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. This guideline is exclusive of benefits, and other offerings you might get. Some consulting firms, like ERG, also include PTO, 401k and health insurance on top of your hourly rate. Be sure to ask your technical recruiter about these upfront.

  • Expect to make an impact on Day 1

Consulting contracts were designed to bring engineers on to fill an urgent need. This means, the ramp up time for contracting engineers should be short. Our most successful assignments come from consultants who go in and make a strong impression on their first day. Hit the ground running! Establishing your value to the project early-on may help to extend your contract.

As always, maintaining a strong relationship with your technical recruiter will help your consulting contract search. The better they get to know your skills, requirements and career goals, the better they’ll be able to find you the right role. When you’re interviewing, you can expect to show off your skills, explain your thought process, and move pretty quickly. After you land a role, you can expect to quickly hit the ground running and make an immediate impact with your project.


Do you have any additional expectations that you’d like to share? Comment below or email Kristen Shumate at

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