How the rise of the contingent workforce will impact the hiring landscape

The number of contingent workers has risen greatly in recent years as companies strive to become more agile and responsive.

Contingent workers are outsourced professionals who are hired on a per-project basis. Freelancers, contractors and consultants are all considered part of the contingent workforce. Though these individuals may work for company on a contract basis, they are of high value to the hiring organization.

"Both companies and candidates stand to gain considerably from the increasing interest in hiring contingent labor," remarks Lorri Zelman, Division Director of Beacon Hill's HR Division in New York City. "Our clients are thrilled to get top-notch hires quickly who can accomplish any necessary task with relatively little ramp-up time. For our candidates – they are able to focus on interesting projects and tasks, often with a predictable schedule which provides autonomy. This contingent relationship provides them with an excellent opportunity for work/life balance, as hours are typically set and they can take vacation and travel between projects."

The number of contingent workers has risen greatly in recent years as companies strive to become more agile and responsive. This shift toward contract work could change the very landscape of the working world.

Contingent work becomes more prominent

According to Upwork's 2018 Future Workplace HR Report, 91 percent of HR leaders have adopted more agile talent strategies, including the use of contingent staff. In fact, 70 percent of HR stakeholders report utilizing contingent talent already - and they expect to continue doing so throughout the next decade.

The report also revealed that utilization of freelancers is up 5 percent over last year, with 48 percent of companies using freelancers in the first half of 2018. Industry leaders believe this trend will continue as the job market tightens.

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, talented IT professionals sometimes prefer contract positions because they allow for personal growth," says Vanessa Keenan, Recruiting Manager of Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Philadelphia. "I often have candidates reaching out to me to find new roles so they can learn and use new technology."

"With more jobs than people to fill them, companies are struggling to find the talent they need to get work done," said Upwork senior VP Zoe Harte. "New skill requirements and occupations are emerging as the half-life of skills continues to shrink. As work continues to evolve, companies will no longer align around job descriptions themselves, but rather projects, skills and capabilities."

As new technologies arise and become common in the workplace, employers will need their employees to keep up or risk becoming obsolete. Hiring for a single skill doesn't make as much sense as it did years ago. Now, professionals need to learn and grow constantly in order to remain competitive within the job market.

"In addition to keeping up with constantly changing technologies, many of our clients experience mergers, acquisitions and/or restructuring, resulting in six- to 12-month periods of uncertainty," explains Ms. Zelman. "Instead of risking hiring the 'wrong' employee, our clients can hire consultants from us to manage them through the transitional period and then ultimately determine what their true needs are at the right time."

More companies are using freelancers to fill skills gaps.

Hiring managers turn to staffing agencies

These days, hiring moves fast, so employers depend on recruitment experts to do the heavy lifting for them. Recruiters at staffing agencies have specialized skills and industry knowledge that makes them much more efficient at hiring professionals with unique skill sets. This is very important to companies that need to hire for skills they aren't familiar with.

For example, let's say you own a bakery. For years, you've baked bread and developed a loyal customer base. One day, a competing bakery begins to offer drone delivery services. They deliver freshly baked bread directly to their customers' doorsteps. Suddenly, you need someone to get your own drone delivery service up and running before you are pushed out of the business. Do you start interviewing drone operators? Or do you hire an agency to find an expert for you?

This is exactly the kind of crisis many organizations are facing today. Contingent labor is one way to keep up with the speed of new technologies.

To learn more about how a staffing agency can help your organization become more agile and responsive, connect with the expert recruiters at Beacon Hill today.

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