Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: gig economy

The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about the Gig Economy.

Breaking the Stigma of Independent Contracting and the Gig Economy

The “Gig Economy” is a prevalent buzzword and drastically grew in popularity as services like Uber became mainstream, but IT Contractors know it is nothing new.

While industry experts, economists and business experts frequently laud the trend, speaking of the benefits it brings to companies, economies and individuals, there continues to be a stigma to being an independent contractor or gigger. Some professionals are hesitant to accept a temporary or contract job, feeling that it’s a mere sign they’re unable to find full-time work and that this is a last resort. They believe it will lead to a dead-end job. It is also common to hear critics claim that participants in the gig economy are not there by choice and, in fact, are being exploited by greedy employers and staffing agencies.

Research proves that most contract professionals are in their positions by choice and are definitely succeeding in their careers. A 2016 McKinsey & Company study found that 70% of gig workers are participating in the gig economy because they want to. A little more than half of them are casual earners, who also have other full-time jobs, where others are free agents who are using it as their primary income.

Breaking the Stigma of Independent Contracting and the Gig Economy

The study found that those 70% are also experiencing strong job satisfaction. The MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2019 further backed the notion that contractors enjoy their career choice, stating that more than half of independent workers feel more financially secure than in their traditional jobs, and 70% plan to continue their current path.

In a world with so much criticism and stigma, why do IT professionals choose to be independent contractors and what makes those 70% never want to turn back?

  1. There are Plenty of Job Opportunities, Especially in IT. A combination of fast-paced technology projects that require specializations, a growing IT skills gap around the world, plus a desire to cut costs and headaches with fewer full-time employers are all leading organizations to raise the amount of IT contractors they use.
  2. The Flexibility is Insane. The freedom and flexibility that come with contracting is nothing that can be experienced as a full-time employee. There are some restrictions based on client needs, but overall, IT contractors get to choose where they work, when they work, and what kind of projects they take on.
  3. It’s a Break from the “9 to 5”. This goes beyond flexibility. For some people, working in that same environment all day every day is long, stale and depressing. Independent contractors can break things up, deciding to work for another client on certain days. Plus, they can eliminate awkward employer-mandated team-building workshops.
  4. Their Entrepreneur Spirit Can Shine. Some individuals are regular entrepreneurs. They want to oversee their own business, take on their own marketing and grow into something bigger. Independent contracting is the perfect steppingstone to start that journey.

Independent contracting, the gig economy and temp work (whatever you want to call it) is not for everyone. As noted earlier, 30% of people are stuck there and would prefer a full-time job. Being independent comes with stress and uncertainty. A permanent position is also the ideal place to build experience and skills that allow you to be a specialized contractor.

If you’re considering becoming an independent contractor but are hesitating, what’s stopping you? If you’re already there, would you ever go back? If you have gone back, why did you? We’d love to learn where you are in your journey and help you through your hesitations.

Evaluating Your Career and How It Fits Into the Gig Economy

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

I saw the following graphic and it struck me as being a very smart way to look at one’s career and potentially do some “life/career-mapping”. There have been many articles written about whether contracting is right for you, including many independent contracting-related posts on the Talent Development Centre. It seems to me, this graphic from linpernille.com captures the gist of it:

Qualities of the Perfect Job

The “gig economy” is common fodder for news, blogs and posts. Staffing Industry Analysts estimates a 6% growth this year and another 6% next year, with the participation rate (in the USA) being 31% due primarily to the growing number of people who have side jobs and businesses. And, if you are reading this, there is a strong likelihood that you fall somewhere on the spectrum of Gig Workers.

If you are feeling content and comfortable contracting or completing temporary work, it is likely that you are hitting on all three aspects shown: you are good at what you do, you enjoy doing it and there is someone pleased to be paying you for your efforts. It’s like a 3-legged stool — you need all three legs for it to work; so, if you feel that something is amiss, then perhaps this diagram can help you find what is wrong.

Additionally the website, The Muse suggests 4 steps that may help you find your way forward (there’s many websites with advice on the subject): Pinpoint the issue, get a new perspective, reflect on your growth/accomplishments, and know that it is ok to move on.

It’s important for your long-term personal wellbeing and mental health to find a career that interests and energizes you (not to mention one that puts food on the table!). The Gig economy is growing and offers many opportunities for personal and professional growth, but it isn’t for everyone. Knowing what’s right for you is the first step to charting your course and braving the open waters that is the job market.  – Happy sailing!

10 Steps to Take Before Becoming an Independent Contractor

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

The shift into the “gig economy” in Canada is growing at a very quick rate, especially in the tech sector. More and more people are choosing to become independent contractors and for many good reasons.

  • You decide what you do
  • You decide who you will work for
  • You decide where you should work
  • Opportunity to gain exposure to new work environments with every new contract
  • Exposure to new technologies
  • Exposure to new ways of thinking
  • Freedom to take more time off
  • Opportunity to make a higher income
  • “Potentially” getting away from office politics

With so many people interested in getting on the bandwagon, I am often asked the question “Where do I start?”

The first piece of advice I give to “would be” contractors is to speak to contractors they already know.  Ask them what they like about being an independent contractor and to dig down into what worries them about being independent (ie: not finding a role, too much time off between positions, etc.).

10 Steps to Take Before Becoming an Independent Contractor

Here are 10 additional steps you can take before entering the world of independent contracting:

  1. Risk assessment
    • How long can you afford to be off for between landing gigs?
    • How flexible are you on your rate in order to land a new role and still be financially comfortable?
    • Are you comfortable with uncertainty?
  2. Update your resume – keep in mind you may have to have several different versions depending on the position you are going for.
  3. Set up your company.  While it’s recommended to work through this with an accountant, setting up a corporation is not too difficult.  There are many online guides to point you in the right direction, including a number of resources here on the Talent Development Centre. You’ll also need to get an HST/GST number and set up a corporate bank account.
  4. Consider getting corporate CGL and E&O insurance. You are a corporation and a professional. Not only will this insurance protect you liability-wise, but it can also contribute to proving your independence and help protect you when being audited by CRA.
  5. Set up a website that can act as a resume, complete with testimonials and samples of your work.
  6. Get business cards to market your business and help with networking.
  7. Update your LinkedIn profile and ensure it is tagged, notifying recruiters and would-be employers that you’re seeking new opportunities.
  8. Let your network know you are becoming a contractor and looking for new contract opportunities. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, including as an IT contractor.
  9. Align yourself with agencies and get to know them well. Keep them updated as to your status once you land a new role or are becoming available. Ensure you send them an updated resume after each project is completed.
  10. Start networking!! Take every opportunity to get out and meet people. You never know how you will land your next role.

This might seem like a lot to do but it is not. Many contractors have told me that they were reluctant to get into contracting as it seemed daunting to go through the above steps.  However, once they became a contractor and landed their first role, they comment that they should have done this sooner!!

There’s One Simple Way to Thrive as an Independent Contractor

There's One Simple Way to Thrive as an Independent ContractorWe repeatedly say throughout the Talent Development Center that “Independent contracting isn’t for everybody” and “There are things you should know before taking the leap.”  While it’s not intended, this can make new IT professionals nervous to making that leap, as it makes the change seem daunting and overwhelming.

The truth is, becoming an independent contractor does require extra work but it does not have to be scary. There is one very simple way to ensure you are successful: Don’t do it alone. Of course, that encompasses many small items like engaging a lawyer and accountant, working closely with recruiters, and attending learning from experienced contractors who have already been through the hurdles.

We recently came across this article that Melissa Thompson, an accomplished entrepreneur, wrote for Inc. about freelancing. In it, she provides advice based on her experience to help contractors get hired. She lists four specific tips:

  1. Freelancers need to take initiative
  2. Networking is still important
  3. Build an outstanding profile
  4. Be prepared for variable income

You can read the article here for all of the details on the advice. Or, if you’re already an experienced and successful freelancer, could you add anything else? If so, please share it in the comments below.

The “Taskification” of Work

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

“My father had one job in his life, I’ve had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time” – Robin Chase, Co-Founder of Zipcar.

The “Taskification” of Work It would seem that up until recent times, human ingenuity focused mostly on increasing the efficiency of work. Improvements of basic tools and machines, completely new inventions and the change from mostly rural, agrarian economies to large-scale, urban-based capitalism changed forever the kind of work we did and how we did it. And through all these changes, workers have had to adapt. Globalization, free trade, off shoring and automation have all impacted workers.

So what are the new or next big disrupters? Lots has been written on the future of automation and the outsourcing of work to machines. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is fascinating. And the “Gig Economy” is already here. Studies vary but some are saying that by 2020, upwards of 40% of Americans will be involved in some sort of freelance or contracted work (a “gig”). Uber is a great example of that new model. But this model is being refined even further. “Crowdworking” refers to websites or “apps” where users/employers can advertise simple or repetitive tasks and gain access to thousands (millions?) of potential “employees” around the world who undertake the tasks advertised. Sites such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or Microtask act as the gathering point for requestors and workers. Instead of hiring employees or negotiating complex freelance contracts, anyone who needs a job done that can be done on a computer can simply go to the market and instantly pick from any number of willing workers. Need a group of photos labelled “Scotland”, or the contact information for businesses in a specific area confirmed or a set of images described in French, there are countless workers who will do it.

The idea of breaking down a job into simple or micro components is not new. Think of the classic assembly line with each station responsible for a specific repeatable task. Off-shoring used this logic to remove the more “mundane” tasks of customer service and call centers or even computer programming from high cost labor centers to countries with a well-educated and populous workforce where wages were low. And while these workers were expected to learn about and be connected to the task owners business, in the case of crowdworking, the workers have no relationship with the task owners at all, except as a point of revenue.

The success of the model means that larger businesses are investigating the usefulness and utility of posting jobs to these sights. The “taskification” of jobs might mean that companies start looking at any number of simple tasks that make up a full-time or part-time employees’ day which could more economically be carried out by a worker in Bangladesh who has a master’s degree and is chronically underemployed vs the North American worker earning $50,000 a year.

And as was demonstrated by off-shoring even traditional knowledge worker roles can be “taskified” into smaller fragments. This on-demand, task-based approach offers companies the ability to tap into an unlimited network of resources including technical experts, seasoned professionals, robots or simply human labor to complete a wide variety of tasks. What this means for the future of work will be played out soon and one thing that we can count on is that new generations of workers will once again, be forced to adapt.

2016 in Review: Business of Independent Contracting

2016 in Review: The Business of Independent ContractingIt’s well-known that successful independent contractors are hard workers, experts in their field and know the best ways to keep a steady flow of work. Something often over-looked by an outsider is all of the extra work an independent contractor has to do just to manage their business. Since we know that IT contracting goes beyond searching for jobs and working on projects, the Talent Development Centre is filled with helpful business tips and contracting advice.

Taking the Leap into Independent Contracting

Just getting into contracting can be a scary endeavor, which is why we posted these articles to help IT professionals in that situation:

Managing Your Independent Contracting Business

We also shared these posts to help manage the business once it’s moving:

Inside Scoop from Eagle’s Executive Team

One of the greatest benefits of the Talent Development Centre is the inside scoop we provide from our executives, who work closely with industry associations. As a result, 2016 also saw these policy-related articles:

What did we miss in 2016? Use the comments below to tell us what you want to learn more about next year.

The New Gig Economy for Baby Boomers

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

The New Gig Economy for Baby BoomersThe Globe and Mail recently published an article about all the buzz around the new “gig” economy, and how it is not just for millennials.

A ‘gig economy’ is defined as “an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent work for short-term engagements.”

This article highlights the fact that senior level resources and recently retired executives are now realizing the opportunities that are now present due to the “gig” economy and how they may benefit from them.

Eagle began to see the need to provide clients with access to senior resources (on either an interim or consulting basis) who have left their traditional roles in industry.  Over the past 5 years, since launching the Executive and Management Consulting (EMC) division, we have seen the talent pool of industry experts and former management consultants virtually explode.

Clients are realizing that they can now access these subject matter experts and strategic resources without going the traditional route of engaging a consulting firm.  The resources that we work with bring a depth of expertise and professionalism to a client that often exceeds what they can access through other consulting and sourcing channels – and at a fraction of the cost.  These resources typically bring at least 15-20 years of hands on experience managing large business transformation related projects, or have deep subject matter advisory expertise.

Clients have started to understand the large untapped talent pool of resources who are keen to work and have discovered what an asset they are to their organization.  These resources not only bring in-depth expertise to the client, but an incredible work ethic.  The baby boomer “gig” economy is a fast growing demographic with thousands of people entering the economy every year.  Most candidates that we have spoken to are excited about the opportunities in the market, often not limiting their work to their home city or country.  The key to anyone entering the next stage of their career is to take the time to plan what is most important to you and how to market your new brand into the marketplace.