The Rise of the Consultant

The nature of employment significantly changed with the Great Recession.  This change took place as businesses were forced to reduce their staffing levels in order to survive.  On the flip side, workers who lost their jobs were faced with the reality that once readily available jobs for the skilled and competent no longer existed.  So here we are four years later.  Are businesses and workers better or worse off with this new employment paradigm?

Business owners of small to mid-sized companies may find it difficult to find and adequately compensate professional to fill non-core functions.  Therefore, many businesses outsource non core business functions.  For example, in small to mid-sized companies, the legal and tax responsibilities rarely are full time positions.  Over the past few years accounting, finance, the CFO function, marketing and logistics have joined the ranks of outsourced professional positions.  Out sourcing enables the business owner to secure highly skilled individuals at an affordable price.  Further the business owner doesn’t have to worry about employment contracts or paying benefits to these independent contractors.

For the worker/professional, an independent contractor status has many advantages and benefits.  During the recession many professionals in their fifties found themselves downsized from the traditional employment world and found they had limited prospects for employment at a similar status and pay level they previously enjoyed.  For these “seasoned” professionals, working as a consultant at multiple companies gives them a level of flexibility and control they would not experience as an employee.  A consultant having multiple clients is not as exposed to corporate downsizing as losing one client of many is not as damaging as losing your one full time position.  Further, these seasoned professionals that  worked in large companies typically have desirable and marketable skills that are very valuable to small and mid-sized companies.

The bottom line is for the right companies and the right professionals, the recession gave each group a push to attempt a new way of seeking professional talent that achieved flexibility and stability.

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