2023 Talent Acquisition Trends: Expansion of Contract Work (Part 2)

Jan 30, 2023

This six-part series will explore some of the talent acquisition trends to expect in 2023. A shifting job market has changed how people think about their careers and progression opportunities, putting more power in the hands of the employer. As you explore these trends, consider how you can adjust your company’s recruiting and hiring practices to adapt.

Welcome to part two of our six-part series on the talent acquisition trends of 2023. The first part of this series talked about the rise in internal movement among employees who want to progress in their careers while maintaining a sense of stability and consistency. Now we’re diving into the (further) expansion of contract work.

Contract work has been steadily rising over the past few years, with a sharp incline during the pandemic when many businesses couldn’t operate as usual. Workers found opportunities to earn income in different ways, including providing transportation or delivery, marketing, and other services.

What is contract work?

Contractors differ slightly from freelancers, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Officially, a contractor enters into a contract with a company to complete a specific project (or multiple projects) at a mutually agreed-upon rate. By contrast, a freelance worker may not have a contract for multiple projects but instead performs work for a company on an as-needed basis.

Expanding contract roles

In the past, contract work was typically only available in specific industries or markets, but that has changed. According to research performed by McKinsey, 36 percent of employed Americans self-identify as independent workers. Some are in short-term placement opportunities through temporary agencies, while others hold full-time jobs in addition to “side hustles,” or freelance gigs performed part-time.

But how this concept ties into hiring trends for 2023 is the expansion of contract roles. Some companies are bringing on high-level professionals and even executives on a contract basis to meet scaling workforce needs while adhering to budgetary concerns.

Today’s contract worker

When comparing different types of people, it’s notable that those seeking and choosing contract work tend to be more mission-oriented. This personality trait makes them more suited to temporarily fill an organization’s needs. Contract workers are also more likely to assimilate quickly into new projects and environments, as they’re likely used to doing so regularly.

Depending on business needs, consider bringing on a contractor rather than hiring a full-time or even part-time employee to fill a specific need. For example, contract workers are highly useful during mergers and acquisitions, when employees may be on edge or feeling uneasy. A contractor can also fill in on a temporary basis, such as if an employee takes a leave of absence. Higher-level contractors may be brought in to take on strategic tasks, such as those related to organizational growth and success.

Hiring contract workers

Since this hiring trend is likely to impact companies of all sizes and scopes, it’s helpful to know how to hire a contract worker for a specific project or role. Talent acquisition professionals need to emphasize nurturing relationships with those interested in contract work rather than focusing on applicants for full-time and part-time positions.

In today’s landscape, it’s best to keep approximately 70 percent of the workforce as employees. This allows companies to outsource roughly 30 percent of the workload to contractors.

Advantages of contract work

Often, those who forego full-time gigs for contract opportunities value flexibility in their professional lives. A flexible job may also benefit those raising children or managing other responsibilities who can’t commit to the traditional 9-5 schedule. Companies using contractors can also take advantage of benefits, including improved cost efficiency and staffing flexibility.

As more skilled professionals shift their career goals and take on more contract work, companies of all sizes can benefit from considering these individuals to handle key tasks and projects. It’s a trend likely to continue well into 2023 and beyond.

Other posts in series (2023 Talent Acquisition Trends):

Part One: More Internal Movement

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