As more managers look to the gig economy as a partial solution to a dearth of technical talent, the beneficiaries will be those developers, software engineers, and others on the “creative” side of technology—at least, that’s what recruiters and hiring managers are saying.
Though employers still focus on filling mission-critical roles with full-timers, managers are increasingly open to the idea of bringing in temporary workers during unusually intense periods of production or implementation, or as part of one-off development efforts.
The full-time hiring efforts focus on finding the professionals necessary to keep the company’s tech operations running on a day-to-day basis, and to fill roles where understanding the organization’s business, operations and culture is important. At the same time, said John Reed, Senior Executive Director of recruiter Robert Half Technology, “we’re seeing the use of freelancers increase at a nice clip.”
What kind of freelancers are we talking about? Here are some of the areas experiencing strong demand for tech pros who can take on short-term assignments:
Reed sees organizations engaging more freelancers to work on clearly defined components of larger efforts. For example, they may need someone to build a shopping cart as part of an e-commerce project. In this regard, Doug Paulo, Vice President and IT Group Leader at staffing firm Kelly Services, sees strong demand for specialists in Java, .NET, HTML5 and front-end Web design, especially if they have experience with A/B testing and prototyping.
When new systems or tools roll out across an organization, freelancers are often called in to handle everything from implementing the upgrade itself to training and supporting the workforce in its use. This could occur for a company-wide deployment of Windows 10, for example, or a more limited effort such as the addition of 1,000 tablets for the company sales force.
Tech pros who’ve developed skills with newer technologies are in a good spot, Paulo believes, “because new technology is being released faster than teams can keep up with it.” In those situations, “people up on the new technology can come in and get the work done. That allows managers to get things done fast and have people with legacy knowledge execute on top of it.”
For example, he said, think about the Apple Watch, 3D printing or “anything else that [wasn’t commercial] 12 months ago and, depending on the industry sector, has mainstreamed.” Organizations that need to reinvent their support models to accommodate such tech may not have the resources (or time) to get up to speed, and so will look “for gig engagements to help pilot a support model or develop a test app.”
The Internet of Things (IoT)
“Ten years ago you couldn’t find a car with an interface,” Paulo observed. “Now there’s a proliferation of interfaces to turn dumb interfaces into smart ones, but we don’t have a plethora of people ramped up to take advantage of that.”
In light of that, he sees a need for app developers and engineers who are familiar with IoT and can design and implement an interface as part of a larger project that connects, for example, a truck with a system back at the factory.
Finally, it’s worth noting that skills and roles aren’t the only things important to success in the gig economy. Personality counts, too. The people most likely to succeed in this environment are those who mesh their in-demand skills with a desire for flexibility and more control over what they do.
In addition, Reed said, “this works for people whose adrenaline pumps when they can do a project. They like making it happen. The mundane, day-to-day stuff doesn’t do it for them. They want to come in, build a project and move on.”