How to encourage candidates to switch from PAYE to Umbrella

5 minutes to read

If you’re paying candidates PAYE, it’s worth recommending they switch to an Umbrella service. It’ll help them get the most out of their assignments, but right now they might not even realise the option is there, let alone all the benefits it brings.

So, how can you support them towards making the decision to go Umbrella? This blog suggests a variety of techniques you can use to build up a positive picture of Umbrella services and encourage them to join.

It’s a good idea to talk to your Marketing team about this. It’s their job to communicate with your candidates, so they’re best placed to find the most effective combination of methods to get your messages across. Here are four ideas to get you started:


Start by dedicating a page on your website to the Umbrella services your agency works with. Explain why you selected each provider, what they do to support contractors, and don’t forget to include a link for anyone who wants to join. Now you’ve got somewhere to direct anyone who might be interested in Umbrellas. Plus, people will naturally come across it themselves when they explore your site.

If you run a blog, it’s a perfect place to offer a more in-depth insight into how Umbrellas are an integral part of the service you provide to candidates. Here’s a few article ideas:

  • Reveal the behind-the-scenes procedures between your agency and Umbrellas that ensure your candidates’ payroll is smooth and efficient.
  • Share the care and consideration you put into selecting the very best providers for your preferred supplier list (PSL).
  • If you secured an Umbrella provider’s sponsorship to help you throw the best possible candidate party – make sure you mention this in your write-up of the event.

You do these things for the good of your candidates – they should know all about it!

Social media

Social media gives you lots of opportunity to steadily reinforce the relationships you have with Umbrellas and more importantly, why you recommend them to candidates.

From time to time, give a shout out to your Umbrella providers. Talk about everything they do for your candidates. For example, the benefits their service offers, events they’ve attended with you or sponsorship they’ve provided. And if you’ve collected any positive comments from candidates about how valuable they find Umbrella services – share them.

If your audience is particularly engaged, why not organise a live social media Q&A session? Candidates often have questions and sometimes even misconceptions about Umbrellas, and appreciate an opportunity to have them answered. You can do this on almost any channel, but Twitter is ideal:

  • Set aside an hour at a time when your followers are most active (for help figuring this out, we like Followerwonk)
  • Invite an Umbrella representative to answer your candidates’ questions live on Twitter during that hour
  • Maybe even talk to them about whether they could offer a small prize, with the winner randomly selected from everyone who asks a question
  • Choose a hashtag (how about this: #AskAnUmbrella)
  • Promote the live Twitter Q&A event to your candidates ahead of time – perhaps using a combination of social media and email – so they can prepare their questions
  • Consider placing Twitter Ads to bring your event to the attention of contractors who don’t work with you yet
  • When the time comes, people tweet their questions using your hashtag
  • The Umbrella representative answers all questions put to them
  • As host, you’re online too, engaging with candidates, keeping the conversation going and even throwing in some questions of your own to get things started

After all that, don’t forget that the most fundamental purpose for social media is simply to have a chat. If your Umbrella partners hang out on the same channels as you do, say hello! You’re almost guaranteed a reply, and it’s good for candidates to see friendly interaction between the two businesses.


If you’ve got a reliable mailing list for your candidates and can segment out those who aren’t already using Umbrella Companies, email is the most direct and effective method of inviting them to sign up.

Spark some interest with a short, snappy email that shows how they can benefit from joining. It’s likely they’ll want to learn more, or even to join straight away – so tell them how to go about doing just that. Your Umbrellas should be able to give you a pre-written template or guidance on the points to cover – just ask.

Once you’ve done the introductions – and got the candidate’s permission – the Umbrella providers can phone them to explain the service in more detail and, if they’d like to go ahead, get them signed up.

The more familiar your candidates already are with Umbrellas, the higher chance of success your email has. Whilst an email can work well as a standalone communication, for the best results consider it as part of a wider campaign. If you can, use your social media, blog and website to lay some groundwork before sending it.


Planning a candidate open day, event or CPD workshop? Invite your Umbrella partners to come along – or even to sponsor or co-host. They’ll likely be only too happy to get involved. Be sure to promote their attendance when you advertise the event, to encourage as many Umbrella-curious candidates as possible to come along.

Ask your provider to present for ten minutes about their service. These occasions are a fantastic opportunity for candidates to ask all their burning Umbrella-related questions and meet the friendly faces behind the companies.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for your marketing campaign to encourage your candidates to explore the benefits an Umbrella can give them. Now it’s time to get started! If I can be of any help while you put your plan together, please feel free to get in touch at any time.

If you’d like to tell your candidates about our own Umbrella service, Key Portfolio, you’ll find lots of resources – including sample tweets, Facebook posts, emails and web copy – in our Consultant Toolkit.