Q&A: Peter Cannone
The CEO of OnForce on the technology consulting workforce.
Is the IT contracting workforce growing? Business growth uncertainty has greatly accelerated companies' use of the IT contract workforce, and we expect this trend to continue. A recent study by MBO Partners forecasts that independent workers will account for more than 50% of the workforce by 2020. At OnForce, we see about 700 applications from service techs each month -- and this is purely from word of mouth, no advertising.
When the recession hit, many companies had to lay off staff, and those that held on to idle employees racked up significant losses. The memories are vivid and personal. Now these companies have low confidence in their ability to predict what the future holds. As a result, independent workers and small IT companies have become a key part of how work gets done, greatly increasing the demand for (and number of) IT contractors.
Is the economy behind the growth, or is it something else? The economy definitely drove the initial shift toward independent contractors, but tech innovation has taken the driver's seat at this point.
Service companies are taking on new types of work, such as mobile devices and networks, and they're using contractors to get it done. Companies can maintain a larger pool of technicians, tapping specialized experts for whatever key skills are needed for today's project, rather than relying on employee generalists.
What sort of IT professional is best suited for life as a contractor -- that is, which skills are in demand, and what personality adapts well to the contracting life? For some, becoming an independent contractor is looking like a better choice all the time. There are three key factors for this: desire for independence, erosion of the employee value proposition (e.g., lack of job security, disappearing pensions, threatened healthcare coverage) and the rapid pace of technological change.
In fact, one of our most recent surveys with our community of independent contractors uncovered that 60% of them willingly joined the independent workforce, and 56% wouldn't consider working for someone else, even if the salary and benefits were comparable.
Every prospective independent contractor needs to be honest with himself about whether he has the necessary technical know-how. He also needs to be up for the challenges of finding work and making sure he gets paid in a timely way for the work he has completed.
In addition, independent contractors need top-notch listening and problem-solving skills, as well as a true passion for what they do. The job involves dealing with new tasks, a wide variety of customer demands and unexpected problems daily. Contractors have to be up for anything to build a successful business.
Perhaps even more challenging is keeping pace with technology. Independent contractors have to supplement existing skills with new ones on a regular basis -- and to stay focused and current, they really have to love what they do.
The Value of Haggling
Most IT professionals are not in the habit of negotiating salary when accepting a new job offer, according to Dice.com. In the April issue of the Dice Report, Tom Silver, senior vice president at the job site, said that most of the 838 hiring managers and recruiters that Dice asked about this said most tech professionals accept the first offer, with no haggling. Silver noted that when the hiring managers and recruiters were asked how much they increased the salary offer, on average, when a job candidate negotiated, the most common response was 5%. That, he calculated, adds up to over $4,000 for an IT pro making the average U.S. salary.
The Chances of Hearing 'No'
When a job candidate asks to negotiate salary, how often, on average, does your company (or one of your client companies) increase the offer?
Very frequently: 6%
Very rarely: 6%
More Career Watch columns
- Career Watch: In-demand skills for 2014
- Career Watch: On job satisfaction, CIOs' perceptions may be skewed
- Career Watch: Paying lip service to work/life balance
- Career Watch: In IT, you don't have to be a star
- Career Watch: IT pros say they're smarter than the boss
- Career Watch: Where job interviews are really tough
- Career Watch: IT professionals assess the IT profession
- Career Watch: QA engineers are just about the happiest workers of all
- Career Watch: Mentoring, from both sides
- Career Watch: Making the most of social media in your job hunt
Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- The CIO's Guide to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) This guide will help those making an EMM platform decision make the best choice for their organization.
- Yankee Group: BlackBerry Results Refute Rumors of its Demise Yankee Group: BlackBerry® is stronger than the press makes it out to be.
- Your New EMM Platform: How to Streamline the Migration Smartphone migration can be resource-intensive and challenging. Find out how outsourcing the process can save significant time and money.
- Live Webcast Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing...
- Testimonial: Cystic Fibrosis Trust Peter Hawkins, the Head of IT for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, discusses the role CommVault's Simpana software platform plays in improving the company's information...
- Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing... All Management White Papers | Webcasts