White Collar Freelance Hiring Saw V-Shaped Recovery, Says New Report

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On top of the rise in white collar remote work, a new trend is growing: white collar freelancing. As more big businesses plan for post-pandemic hiring plans, the word “freelancer” seems to be showing up more and more. Now, a new report shows just how much white collar freelance hiring has grown. Unlike many predicting a “U-shaped” recovery from COVID, it seems white collar freelance hiring experienced a V-shaped recovery.

PRO Unlimited, a software company that helps enterprises manage freelancers and other contingent workers, released a study showing how swiftly hiring recovered even as the pandemic raged. According to their data, contingent hiring dropped by 56% in the first half of 2020. This was, says PRO in the report, a much larger and faster drop than the 2008 Recession. However, hiring also recovered faster, hitting pre-COVID levels by July 2020. As of September, hiring was 9% higher year over year, according to the report. 

A V-shaped recovery

The fast dip and recovery led the study to declare it a “V-shaped recovery.”

Source: PRO Unlimited Contingent Labor Study

“There’s a strategic shift happening where employers competing in a war for skilled specialty talent have accelerated their adoption of contingent labor – and it’s not only “gig” app and blue-collar jobs anymore. In fact, 40% of all white-collar workers fall into this category,” said Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of PRO Unlimited, in a press release.

Demand skyrocketing for white collar freelance roles

The study found that hiring of IT analysts, who provide tech support within companies, is up 43%, as is the use of data engineers (31%), IT/tech project managers (23%), marketing managers (18%), clinical pharmacists (18%) and designers (9%). When it came to COVID’s impact, healthcare was least impacted.

Unfortunately, while there is an increase in white collar jobs there is a decrease in other roles. Specifically, the report cites assembly specialists as the role with the steepest decline – a 69% drop in demand. Administrative assistants experienced a 51% drop in demand and manufacturing associates saw a 32% drop.

Freelancers don’t want full-time jobs

An old adage of freelancing was that people did it between jobs. Or, if it was a chosen career, they’d be happy to jump to the ‘right’ full-time job. 

According to this survey, that’s no longer the case. Only 19% of respondents said they value if a freelance opportunity has potential to convert to full-time. Similarly, freelancers don’t expect the same kind of professional development from their work as employees do. Only 14% of people value unique project opportunities or skill building within freelance work. And at the bottom of the list for freelancers: culture. Only 8% say they value having alignment with client culture. 

When it comes to what freelancers want, it’s clear: money. 40% says monetary compensation is by far the most valued factor in their freelance job search. This stands in opposition to employees, who routinely rank culture and professional development above monetary compensation.

The full report can be downloaded here

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