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Is Independent Contracting right for you? (part 2)

This blog is part 2 of a 2 part series.

In our previous blog post, we commented on the growth in contract staffing versus direct-hire placements as a growing employment market.  Who is making this move into being independent contractor and what does this mean for those HR organizations trying to compete in the increasingly competitive IT sourcing market.

The millennials have a strong attraction to the change in work-life strategies.  They thrive and are well experienced in virtual lifestyles.  They wish to have the variety of experience, targeted development opportunities and a strong sense of control on what they do.  “The 9-to-5 grind is over.”, says Sarah Horowitz, Why Millenials Understand The Future Of Work Better Than Anyone (Fast Company), “I call that traditional view, “Big Work,” and millennials intuitively understand that’s not where the future is. They are, in a sense, the first generation of freelance natives. They’re embracing freelancing in a way no other generation has. And now, they’re the majority of the workforce.”  The statistics confirm the significance of the change – “They are the most likely age group to freelance—38% of millennials are freelancing, compared to 32% of all others, according to a national survey conducted last year by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk.  Millennials also expressed by far the most confidence about this new way of working, with 82% of young freelancers saying they’re optimistic about the future of freelancing.”

The other large growth in independent contractors will come from the “Silver Tsunami” of older highly experienced workers transitioning from long carriers to a more self-directed second career model who need to plan on working longer and driving additional earnings.  The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania studied extensively the real discrimination by companies to hire workers over 55 and to research some of the incorrect perceptions.  The results revealed overwhelming data that older workers had higher productivity, cost less and overall represented stronger value, “When it comes to job performance, older workers frequently outdo their younger colleagues… Older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills and deal better with customers. “The evidence is unbelievably huge,” he notes. “Basically, older workers perform better on just about everything.”  This however is changing driven by greater availability of older workers who are living longer and by the IT market constraints for qualified candidates.

Whether a millennial or a baby-boomer, not all is straight forward and without challenges for the job seeker when it comes to this movement from permanent to contract.  For the contractor, becoming an independent worker brings self-management responsibilities, financial risk and administrative overhead that does not exist as a permanent employee.  However, the tools are available to build and manage their own “You, Inc” small business.  Independent Contractors can access a rapidly growing set of resources for knowledge, toolsets and small business enablers through personally subscribed cloud solutions that manage everything from contracts-to-benefits-to-business financials.

The biggest challenges for any business contractor are business development actions required to get the first and the next contract.  As an individual, this relies on continuous networking, marketing and visibility of your resume.  There are many ways to market “You, Inc.”  from traditional job boards, to marketplaces, networking, social media and referrals.  One lever often overlooked by contractors is to align with a trusted staffing company focused in their industry or skillset who can continuously seek to fulfill the next contract job and advocate for the contractor in each engagement.

During 2017, we will continue to show greater numbers of millennials and baby-boomers hanging up their shingles as independent contractors.  This is good for them and in a growing IT labor market, good for the contracting business that needs to remain nimble with a mix of permanent employees and flexible dynamic skill requirements.