Contract engineers are becoming more common across industries, and this is no fleeting trend. Flexible work options coupled with changing economic headwinds have prompted companies to rethink their approach to engineering talent. The moment is ripe for both businesses and engineers to thrive, and with an eye on agility, organizations will benefit from the right mix of IT contract engineers and permanent hires.
What trends are influencing hiring engineers?
A merging of trends is creating a unique moment in engineering hiring. In recent years, many companies have decreased their workforce, and some are still running leaner today. These companies may not have the internal resources or headcount to meet dynamic business demands and are turning to contract hiring solutions to fill skills gaps, seeking flexible talent solutions that meet speed-to-hire needs.
At the same time, top engineering talent that left their employers during the “Big Quit” are seeking more location flexibility or meaningful work. Abundant capital fueled rapid start-up growth, offering exciting opportunities for engineers. There was an uptick in companies focusing on specific skill sets as part of their hiring processes.
Now, changing economic headwinds are steering experienced professionals back to larger, more stable companies. Not all engineers are ready to make a permanent commitment to a single company, however. Seeking a happy medium between flexibility and stability, engineers are embracing contract positions for shorter periods of work - usually three, six, or 12-month engagements.
The benefits of hiring contract engineers
Contract engineers offer several benefits for companies of all sizes, particularly larger firms, especially when there is a need to fill open positions quickly or source specialized skills.
Here are some of the top advantages of hiring a contract engineer:
Outsourcing the exact skills your business needs
Contractors often specialize in specific skill sets. “Companies can create a contract engineering job listing that lays out the precise needs for a particular project,” says Stephanie Quiros, Principal Business Development Manager. “We often see this targeted approach as more effective than hiring a full-time employee with a more generalized set of skills.”
For example, suppose your company is developing a new service that requires a keen understanding of how customers use it. In that case, you might hire a contract software engineer specializing in data visualization and project strategies around the service’s pricing, promotion and performance.
Fast, efficient engineer hiring processes
The typical hiring process at large firms can take several months, followed by a 90+ day onboarding process. The result: many candidates are quitting before they even start their first day. Contract engineers sidestep these challenges. Because of their expertise, they likely won’t need as much time onboarding and are ready to hit the ground running.
Contract engineers also offer more flexibility for your company. They free up time for teammates, allowing them to focus on other projects or learn new skills. Particularly in this remote era, many engineers may be picking up additional work on the side of a full-time job or freelance full-time. Finding a candidate with the right qualifications that can commit to a 9-to-5 schedule might be challenging. A contract engineer has a more flexible schedule and can ensure the work gets done, even if it’s outside of the company’s typical working hours.
Solutions for today, options for tomorrow
“Engineering workloads aren’t always linear so you may need to scale up or down based on your company’s needs,” says Casey Roberts, Practice Area Manager. “Hiring a full-time employee during a busy period may result in some twiddling of thumbs when things quiet down, and that’s not what you hired them to do.”
Instead, you can hire a contract engineer for the few months that require extra work. Even if their pay ends up being higher than a typical engineer’s salary over the same timeframe, you’ll save money, time and energy both in the onboarding process and in the long run.
A smarter business strategy and a fresh perspective
Contract engineers know exactly what they’re coming in to do. Their skills are a good fit for the project they’re working on, but their knowledge can also create additional business opportunities. Bringing in an outside voice provides fresh perspectives; they might have an idea or strategy that others within the company haven’t considered.
Beyond fresh perspectives, contract engineers can also give guidance to teammates. They may help them learn a new skill or concept, and their presence can eliminate much of the handholding and training required for full-time hires tackling a new system or project. That extra time gained for other employees can be invested in professional development, ultimately leading to more organizational success.