Employers bring in more contract employees as hiring slowly climbs
After two and a half years of economic turmoil, businesses are once again beginning to hire, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. As employers begin to cautiously hire again, a new contingent of the work force is beginning to emerge. The contract, or freelance employee, is becoming more of a rule rather than an exception. For many businesses, contract or freelance workers could become a permanent solution.
From the company perspective, it is usually cheaper to bring in contract workers. They do not have to pay freelancers health care and other employee benefits. Plus, there is the added flexibility in regards to sheer numbers. Resizing the workforce is much easier when the company has a number of workers on hand who are contractors.
The hiring statistics back up the findings. Over the last two years, Monster.com realized a 46 percent increase in contract job openings. Overall job listings rose 32 percent.
Staffing agencies are also seeing the trend. Carlisle Staffing, headquartered in Westmont, Ill., realized a 43 percent increase in contract billable hours in the previous year. The majority of the increase was credited to contract employees working on specific projects.
How does contract work impact those looking for a job?
Turns out that freelance work can be a good way for a job candidate to get a foot in the door.
Contract work can provide someone with experience in an industry or a career that they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. It can be done without a long-term commitment. In the end, if the contractor is not satisfied with the assignment or the employer, they can move on to the next position and start again.
Freelance employment also provides the opportunity to work when and where a contractor wants to work. Work only during school hours, take the summers off, or build a schedule around other family members. Contract employees have the flexibility to make a choice on their schedule.
In addition to a paycheck, many contractors can get benefits from staffing agencies. Manpower, for example, offers a full benefit package including holidays, medical and dental coverage, life insurance and a 401K plan. Other staffing firms also offer excellent benefit packages. Some packages are paid for by the contractor, while some are covered by the company.
Contract work has moved beyond the arena of low-skilled labor jobs and the construction sector, where contract work long had been prevalent. Now businesses use contract workers in highly skilled positions, such as scientists, engineers, professionals and managers. As companies aim to do more project-based work with small groups of professionals, they can bring them in as needed.
To respond to business demand, many staffing agencies have become increasingly specialized. According to the National Association of Temporary and Staffing Services (NATSS), office and clerical skills still account for 43 percent of temporary help industry jobs.
The industrial segment, which includes manufacturing, warehousing and maintenance, accounts for 30 percent of the business. Professional, technical and medical segments have been undergoing rapid growth as the demand for more highly skilled jobs continues to rise.
This trend toward temporary specialization and high-level contractors should continue as more and more professional, well-educated workers jump on the temporary bandwagon. Fueling this growth will be full-time, college-educated employees who want more career flexibility, as well as retirees eager to return to work part-time.
Many companies have turned to staffing agencies to find permanent employees. Not only does using a contract worker allow the company to determine if they like the employee, it also allows the employee to see if they like the company and the job.
These days, with staffing agencies filled with high-quality, well-educated workers, companies can find just the type of people that they want to hire full-time.
New contract employees should talk to their manager to see if the company has a temp-to-perm hiring process in place. It may pay off to know that the temporary work could lead to a full-time position.