How Independent Contractors Are Replacing You

How Independent Contractors Are Replacing You

April 4, 2017 Interviewing

Are you feeling the pinch behind the proliferation of freelance gigs and the decline of full-time headcount in your industry?

The job market has been changing from relying on full-time employees to enjoying the perks behind hiring freelancers. This trend is on the rise so that by 2020 more than 40% of the US workforce will be independent workers.

There are a number of factors that are driving this trend.

Profit margins are thinner in many industries hence hiring project-based contractors is very attractive.  It’s costly to source, hire, and fire full-timers. And, health insurance is pricey.

Companies are not the only benefactors of this trend. Some of us prefer flexibility and variety. What’s more, many of us will accept a freelance gig as to avoid a gap in our resume.

No one likes to explain resume gaps and so we’ll take a side-gig (i.e. a role as a temporary independent contractor).

However, a rising “gig economy” brings negative implications to a job candidate like yourself who would prefer a career peppered with full-time roles than one dotted by short-term assignments.

So what does this all mean to you the job candidate looking for a long-term employment relationship?

One implication is that the number of full-time opportunities in your field will continue to go down. You’ll notice more freelancing, part-time, or temporary opportunities around. You may be tempted to go for them and secretly hope to win your way into a full-time role.  However, this is not a sure strategy, instead assume that you’ll be temporary for a while. You might recall what it’s like to fight for headcount when you were a people leader? Today, it’s an even steeper uphill battle to secure headcount because of implication number two.

The second implication is that the make-up of freelance employees is changing to include higher-skilled employees. Companies can cherry-pick from freelancers for roles with higher levels of responsibilities.  The type of jobs that are going from FT only to suitable for contract work now include very skilled opportunities.

For example, I worked with a client who was an experienced CPA who cobbled together her career while balancing motherhood as an interim CFO. She maintained the similar scope of responsibilities as a full-time CFO yet focused on tackling short-term assignments. She brought a high aptitude for interpreting numbers so in this case her clients enjoyed her expertise without her six-figure salary.

Then there are sites such as which is focused on matching freelancers in the real estate industry with short-term assignments that would have gone to full-time real estate finance professionals or real-estate asset managers. My sense is that if a traditional real estate firm such as Jones Lang La Salle is enjoying the gig economy that other traditionalists will continue to explore this low-risk option.

So, what does this mean to you?

We are in a gig economy that is creeping its way into mid-level career roles and up.  Your options in finding a full-time opportunity with attractive benefits in your salary range are dwindling. In the past, you might have been shielded by your degrees or “experienced” status yet today you too are at risk for being “out-gigged.”

Your best option is to make every single job opening count.

You can begin by knowing your professional narrative. Can you explain the decisions behind your career moves?

For instance, if you have freelanced a couple of times then can you explain what you learned from those experiences?  

Further, in what ways you did miss being held accountable for longer-term results?  

Now, if you have had a winding career path, then can you articulate how your unique blend of experiences make you worth taking you on full-time?

Aside from knowing your story, what about thinking more strategically about what you want your message to be before going to an interview?  

My clients have shared with me that they feel it’s harder to have a clear strategy for what they want to get across to an HR interviewer than it has been to a prospective boss. Is this true for you too?

Here’s my challenge: Craft a game plan and ensure that you go into any interview round one with HR or subsequent rounds knowing what you’d like to convey. What is your one message?

If you strategize your message and practice sharing the rationale behind your career journey, then you will stand out and prove that you are worth those more limited offers to a full-time opportunity.

What you may be missing here is that today HR is the gatekeeper to your opportunities.  You may think that HR is in ONLY about checking your level of sanity, but today HR is contributing a lot more to the organization’s bottom line – HR is ALSO responsible for employee profitability.  So, if you stand out among a sea of freelancers who can fulfill your job in less time and less money, you will be out-gigged.  BUT if you walk into the HR interview knowing AHEAD of time what HR is looking for, so much that the interviewer sitting in front of you feels like you are reading his mind, you will definitely move to round 2. How will you ever do that? You must prepare.  I cannot stress this enough: you have to prepare for your HR screening interviews.

If you want to ensure your move to round 2, download my eBook where I detail the 10 things that HR is thinking about YOU and learn how to sell your skills to the one person who will decide whether you are staying or leaving.

Stay tuned, on Wednesday at 1pm EST I will do a live Facebook video discussing your options given this gig economy. I’ll see you then.




About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.