Back in October, Agile wrote “10 Reasons Why IT Jobs Are Worth Considering.” It was written, in part, because we were beginning to see an uptick in contract jobs from many of our clients. While IT budgets have loosened somewhat as the economy slowly putters along, some companies are beginning to hire more full-time employees. But as the New IT continues to dictate the way IT departments must change to survive, employers may be less inclined to commit to hiring full-time talent and choose to leverage contract workers instead.
The recession has forever changed the way technology leaders do business. A recent article in TechNewsWorld provides some interesting insight as to why companies need to use new hiring strategies to correctly staff their IT organizations. One strategy discussed is the need for employers to remain flexible during such uncertain times. Although the economy may be picking up, the road ahead in 2011, by most indications, will be bumpy at best. Analysts predict that the IT job market will improve next year (the IT unemployment rate in Georgia is only 5% ), but growth is expected to be slight. And with recent news of a “double dip recession” on the way, further growth may very well by stymied.
Without a doubt, the economy is driving IT staffing decisions. Hiring on a contract-basis makes good business sense in many cases. Employers are able to staff projects without the costs associated with full-time employees. Leveraging contractors enable IT shops to get done what needs to get done, while removing some of the fear of what to do with those workers once a project is complete. As things improve, companies may bring contractors on full-time. But as IT organizations continue to transform, new hiring models will most likely take shape too.
What other factors are driving companies to hire IT professionals on a contract basis? During the past 18 months, businesses have had to do more with less. They have also determined that the skills sets needed one day are not the same skills required the next. Technology is changing faster than ever before, and to remain competitive, IT organizations must have the right people on the right project. By hiring contractors, employers are able to choose the talent with the skill sets that best fits the needs of the organization at that particular period of time. Companies could re-train existing and new full-time employees, and they will need to do so moving forward, but this is a conversation for another time.
In addition, both IT executives and workers are now expected to not only know about technology – they must know the business -- that means understanding the overall business objectives and figuring out how technology can be used to solve business problems while adding measurable value to the business. Implementing projects for the sake of technology is a thing of the past. IT is being held accountable, and it has to justify its existence by delivering impact that extends throughout the enterprise. Full-time employees that have survived the budget cuts and lay offs of the past may or may not have the business acumen necessary to communicate how technology fits into the big picture and how to show real results.
The days of permanent jobs are far from over. But as the New IT takes hold and transforms the way IT organizations do business, contract hiring will become more prevalent. There are advantages to contract jobs, so if you are a job seeker -- don't despair. As the economy improves, there will be exciting opportunities for those willing to take on contract work. For technology leaders and hiring managers, hiring on a contract basis will probably become the norm, at least in some instances. We'd like to hear from you. What is your IT staffing strategy? Will your organization be hiring more contractors versus full-time employees in 2011? What factors are driving your hiring decisions?