How to thrive in the coming tech gig economy

The rise of contract and contingent work is shaking up the traditional IT career path. Here’s how to navigate for success

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“Companies are driving greater efficiency,” says Work Market’s Chou. They’re “handling more and more work, while expanding partner, vendors, and contractor relationships. One example is Apple. Its product development is all about design, so it keeps the quality control function in-house. This points to a need for positions that involve strategy, supplier management, R&D with skills in project management, strategy, operation control, communication, contract negotiation, and management. All things that are core to the business will not likely be outsourced.”

Are the full-time jobs that remain more strategic, closer aligned to business, more about products than projects?

“Employers are looking for those with the technical skills to carry out or implement projects, but they are also seeking employees who are able to provide thoughtful recommendations for the business,” says Robert Half’s Reed. “Whether it’s new processes that may increase efficiency and decrease spend or presenting business leaders with the latest and greatest in technologies or data security measures. The most valuable technology employees right now are those with the ability to balance technical skill and business acumen.”

Fieldglass’ Brimm, like others we spoke with, brought up the push from the bottom. A new generation of IT workers enjoys the flexibility of contract jobs -- but there’s an obvious downside.

“It’s been said that millennials like to ‘job hop’ more than other generations, but what I find especially interesting is that in today’s economy, the flexible workforce allows individuals to pick and choose the projects they’d like to work on,” Brimm says. “Workers can also use this flexibility to improve on an existing system by applying their personal experience into a project. If the project goes well, a company may take notice and create additional projects for the flexible worker at hand.”

The kicker may be that in a gig economy, the end may not be in sight, but at some point, it’s coming.

“Flexible workforces don’t offer the same stability that a full-time work structure does,” Brimm says. “There’s a risk associated with contingent work because there is always a timetable and an end date to the assignment.”

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This story, "How to thrive in the coming tech gig economy" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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