To Freelance Or Hire, That Is The Question

According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, tech skills remain the hardest to find, with the average time-to-hire at 40 days for tech roles, compared to 30 days for other skills. Many tech jobs are never filled. 


By 2018, the report indicates that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled in the US. The Q2 2017 Skills Index confirms technical skills are the most in-demand accounting for nearly two-thirds (65%) of the fastest-growing skills. Companies need to move quickly to access highly skilled professionals.


The report finds:

  • Hiring got harder: three times (41%) as many IT managers believe hiring got harder in the past year versus 14% who say it got easier.
  • Teams depend on access to talent: A majority (75%) of IT managers agree that their department’s success depends access to the right talent.
  • Teams embrace location independence: 78% of IT managers have someone on their team working  a significant portion of their time remotely. Technology has made being in the office less of a factor when hiring new team members, with only one in 10 IT managers saying location is important to a new team member’s success.
  • Teams are hiring freelancers: More than half (53%) of IT managers are employing freelancers. The top reasons for hiring freelancers are to scale to meet project needs (66%) and to find skills not currently available in-house (51%).
  • Freelancers help teams get more done: 81% of IT managers said utilizing freelancers helped them get more done, while 50% said freelancers helped them quickly and efficiently scale their teams to support project demands.  Leveraging freelancers helps companies create new opportunities that would otherwise not exist. In fact, if they had not been able to hire a freelancer, 90% of IT managers said they would have been forced to delay, cancel, or extend project workloads.
  • Technology is changing how teams get work done: 77% of IT managers agree that technology is changing how their team finds and works with talent. Furthermore, 68% of IT managers agree that hiring online will soon become common. The majority (76%) of IT managers agree that companies who don’t evolve their hiring strategies are at a competitive disadvantage, and over half (58%) say freelancers will be part of their long term strategy. 

One tends to think the report leaves out some important points for consideration. Using competent freelancers has always been to employers’ advantage. First, freelancers don’t get the same benefits, i.e., health coverage, sick leave, maternity leave, 401k plans, pensions, etc., as full-time hires. Second, most freelancers are so grateful for the work, they do just about anything to do a great job including putting in many unpaid hours and putting up with just about any form of abuse. And third, freelancers are easily terminated for whatever reason, if any. Read more