Today’s tight talent market offers opportunities for the self-employed, who take advantage of companies turning to contractors to fill millions of open positions.
“It’s a great time to look for work,” said Kim Garstein, senior vice president of Robert Half International, a recruiting company. “I’ve been doing this for two decades and it’s the cheapest for candidates I’ve ever seen. “
Tight talent market
More than half of the country’s employers are looking for workers. And there just aren’t enough skilled workers to fill all the vacancies, Garstein says.
In addition, as companies return to their offices, an increasing number of employees are leaving the ship. Some 75% of workers say they want to be able to work from home at least part of the time. A third of workers say they will quit if they are forced to return to the office, according to Robert Half’s 2022 wage guide, which just ended.
This small talent market has created the perfect environment for freelancers, especially those who are qualified and have many years of experience. Hiring just takes too long. For example, 38% of companies surveyed said they were hiring more independent contractors, and 45% said freelancers already made up more than half of their workforce. Notably, 39% of workers see contract work as the next step in their career path.
Zoe Rem, a freelance product designer, says her professional background shows how demand has skyrocketed. Two years ago, she was still a part-time bartender to make ends meet. Now she is a full time freelance writer earning six figures.
“There are so many jobs out there, and it’s all a contract position,” she says.
Most Popular Jobs
Most of the most in-demand jobs are in tech, according to Robert Half. These include front-end developers, user experience and digital marketing experts, and systems security managers.
There is also a strong demand for financial and administrative experts, ranging from assistants to accountants.
All of this leads to better wages. While overall pay levels have risen just under 4%, salaries in some high-demand areas are increasing twice as much, according to Robert Half. And 48% of companies say they pay signing bonuses to new hires.
Set your rates
This gives freelancers the option of increasing their rates, notes Rem. However, since not many freelancers want to risk losing out on a job, she suggests you do so in a thoughtful way. Look for the average salary for the job (s) you do. (You can start by using Half’s salary calculator here.)
But also add the cost of perks, such as paid time off and health insurance, she suggests. After all, companies pay these costs for their employees. If you rush to replace a full-time worker, you should get the equivalent of that salary, if not more.
She plugs the numbers into a spreadsheet to figure out how much she needs to charge per hour or per project.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more than you think you can get, adds Lorenzo Parks, a St. Louis-based web developer.
“The worst that can happen is for the customer to say no,” he says. “But most of the time, that’s just the start of a negotiation.”
Where to find jobs
Notably, while COVID-19 has brought the workforce home, it has also fueled rapid growth in independent online platforms that connect screened workers to customers. Parks and Rem list their services on Braintrust, where you can set your own rates, paying the platform a small fee for the connection.
Braintrust specializes in technology jobs, ranging from user experience and design to site engineering and cybersecurity. FreeUp, Catalant, and Toptal are other sites for tech workers.
Robert Half finds work for accountants, human resources experts, administrative staff, and marketing, legal and healthcare professionals. Business is so dynamic that the site has added a smartphone app so it can alert potential contractors to work in progress. In the past year alone, the app has alerted workers to over a million job postings.
Other sites that connect skilled workers to clients include FlexProfessionals (legal, accounting); WAHVE (insurance, human resources); Creatively and Working Not Working (conception, marketing, film); and SMA (engineering, project management).
There are also many consulting firms, such as GLG, Zintro, and Maven, which connect experts with clients who need advice or temporary help with logistics, accounting, or little else. whatever.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, a freelance website that reviews money making opportunities in the gig economy.