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“Gig” work – that is, freelancing, consulting or contracting work – is what has given rise to the gig economy. It centers around independent contractors working short-term, gig assignments before moving onto another contract. And it’s booming.

What may have started out as some engineers’ side hustle, that is working contracts or project work outside of regular business hours, has turned into an all-out career for a lot of engineers. In fact, more often than not, the senior most professionals in any given sector are the ones contracting – not only because they can stay just as busy as they would in a traditional full-time gig, but they can also make more money while they do. Gone are the days when companies used to regard contractors as the washed-up engineers who couldn’t find full-time work. Now, these are the leaders in the industry – in skill set and in compensation.

It’s competitive, it’s fast-paced, it’s rewarding, and it’s giving highly skilled, software, hardware and mechanical engineers an avenue to make more money while expanding their skill set and exposure to the latest technologies.

Here are the 5 reasons why engineers are thriving in the gig economy: 

1. The gig economy is still growing and there are many opportunities that can improve a software, hardware and mechanical engineer’s overall skill set. There are more opportunities to learn and advance in their careers, especially when they are able to work multiple projects and choose the technologies they work with. Constantly learning and keeping up with the latest technologies is a great way to get ahead in the engineering field. In general, the gig economy has afforded software, hardware and mechanical engineers the opportunity to advance their careers. They can choose which projects, where, when and how they want to work. 

2. There is a high volume of career and consulting opportunities in the gig economy for engineers. For instance, a company may need software support for building an app but they do not require a full-time resource after the job is done. This is where an experienced engineer with the exact skills the company needs makes a great option. The engineer gets hired on to consult until project deadlines are met and then he or she moves onto a new assignment after the fact. It’s a win-win for the company and the consultant.

3. Contracting engineers can be hired on a lot quicker than staffing a full-time position. Making a full-time hire can be daunting, while hiring a consulting engineer is a lot less of a risk. The relationship between a company and a contractor is ‘at will’ – meaning, if everything goes well and the company wants to hire the engineer on full-time, that’s an option too. Or, if everything goes well and the company wants to hire the engineer on full-time, that’s an option too. One of the biggest benefits of consulting is that both consultant and company get to “try each other out” before making a big commitment. 

4. Networking is another reason why software, hardware and mechanical engineers are thriving in the gig economy. The more contracts they do, the more people they meet. And the more people they meet, the more opportunities they are presented with. The opportunities in the gig economy are endless for engineers. And, it’s not just great hiring managers and companies these engineers are getting introduced to, they are also meeting other engineers and making great professional connections within their field. This is why we always ask engineers for referrals – the old adage that great people know great people is absolutely true, but especially so in the gig economy. 

5. Technology enables the gig economy – and software, hardware and mechanical engineers are at the heart of a lot of that technology. Given cloud sharing capabilities, messaging tools – Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack, for instance – and the ability to plug in virtually anywhere, it’s easy to see why more and more companies are turning to gig economy workers when they can’t find the talent they need inhouse or even locally to where the business is. Software, hardware and mechanical engineers are perhaps the most plugged in on how to work efficiently remotely and with teams they are not sitting face-to-face with. Quite literally, they are made for this type of work.

A word to the wise: If you are hiring gig talent, it’s important to treat this classification of worker differently than you would full-time direct-hires, especially when it comes to recruiting and interviewing. This type of worker is looking for something different during these critical stages and it’s important to speak their language, or risk missing out on this great source of talent. 

The gig economy is already hot but it’s continuing to heat up. It’s been rewarding to see that gig work is everywhere, no matter where you are in the country. If you’re looking for consultants or if you are a software, hardware or mechanical engineer, connect with us today!