In years past, companies looked at contract work as a way to fill temporary voids. They used it for seasonal work, during leaves of absence, or as administrative support. For generations, contract workers have helped companies remain profitable and competitive, and their ranks are only set to increase in the coming years.

Research from TrueBlue and Emsi suggests that hiring contract workers is on the rise. The study predicts that more than a quarter-million additional contractor positions will hit job boards by 2025. If this prediction comes true, the world will see more than 3.2 million contract work opportunities in just five years. Oh, and those contract workers will boast incredibly diverse backgrounds.


A Brief History of Contract Worker Evolution

In its early days, Innovative Employee Solutions (IES) — then called Tops Staffing — placed people in mostly clerical occupations. Eventually, our staffing model grew to include light industrial roles. As the scope of contingent work expanded over the years, so did the range of services IES provides.

Today, we serve as an employer of record for organizations seeking contract work from experts representing a variety of verticals. What prompted this evolution? Firms want the advantages of hiring contract workers, and they haven’t locked into antiquated thinking that contract workers are limited to customer service representatives or administrative assistants.

This shift begs the question of whether hiring a contractor is limitless. From a practical sense, it might as well be. We work within a global economy augmented by virtual capabilities, which means contract workers can handle just about any responsibility. As long as companies clearly outline expectations, set realistic budgets and timelines, and open up resources, they can comfortably ask their contingent workforce to complete specific projects, duties, and assignments.


Thinking Outside the Contract Worker Box

If you’re eager to glean the benefits of hiring contractors but not sure what sort of work you should outsource, remind yourself that anything’s fair game. Below are just a few of the more unexpected contract work jobs that startups and enterprises have used to fulfill operational goals.


1.  Specialized scientists (including nuclear physicists)

Why on earth would anyone need a nuclear physicist as a W-2 or 1099 contractor? The answer is simple: Most companies don’t need a full-time nuclear physicist on staff, but countless firms that vie for government bids would benefit from the temporary expertise of a nuclear physicist or another scientist. If the bid turns into a full-fledged project, the company could extend its relationship with the specialized scientist to complete the assignment.


2.  IT industry professionals

Take a gander at well-known staffing firm Yoh’s website — it provides plenty of IT contract work that goes beyond basic coding. From technical software development talent to user experience design superstars, the IT roles needed in the temporary marketplace are quite varied. Cobbling together groups of highly trained IT players makes sense, especially for smaller organizations that can’t justify putting a large IT department into place. This approach allows businesses to get skilled workers without many of the costs associated with hiring permanent employees for project-based work.


3.  Defense field experts

One of our clients needed a submarine engineer, though it only required the engineer’s expertise to train full-time staff members. This client’s search for someone boasting a specific skill set illustrates just how unpredictable the need for temporary workers can be. A worker’s expertise might be vital at a particular moment, but the work will not be there on a long-term basis.


4.  Global consultants and business professionals

At IES, we’re engaged in a global expansion process. We have people on staff who could handle many of the necessary tasks, but they’re focused on other priorities. Consequently, we’ve hired a global capabilities consultant to develop partnerships and build our international network. As more companies stretch beyond geographic and cultural borders, they will undoubtedly continue to seek these types of globally proficient professionals.

Never underestimate the advantages of hiring contract workers — particularly if you have sporadic needs for individuals with vital, well-defined, and potentially hard-to-find expertise. Contingent workers offer a fantastic, affordable bridge between your team’s abilities and whatever skill sets you might be missing.


Written by: Kara Hertzog, President of IES

Kara Hertzog is president of Innovative Employee Solutions, a leading global Employer of Record in more than 150 countries that specializes in contingent workforce solutions such as outsourced payrolling, independent contractor compliance, and contractor management services. Founded in 1974, IES has grown into one of San Diego’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of the city’s “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

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