Information technology remains one of the most in-demand jobs in 2020. According to a new survey from staffing firm Robert Half Technology, nearly 69% of IT decision makers anticipate expanding their teams in the next six months – up two points from the second half of last year.

The State of Tech Hiring survey also found that nearly all IT managers – 96% – said that they would bring on interim professionals, and 60% of those said hiring project-based IT employees is part of their overall staffing strategy, while 58% added that they will fill openings with temporary staff as needed.

“This is something that many companies are considering for a few different reasons,” said Bruce Beam, CIO of (ISC)², Inc., the non-profit organization which specializes in training and certifications for cybersecurity professionals.

“There is only so much talent to go around, and coupled with the skyrocketing salary costs we’re seeing a lot of people job hopping more than ever,” Beam told ClearanceJobs.

Economic Considerations

The strong economy shows no sign of slowing down, but even with strong budgets, companies often face tight budgets or contract constraints and high demand for specific skillsets.

“There are many economic and revenue factors to consider, and when you see companies face tight budgets the teams have to respond to it,” explained Beam. “This can be a very important challenge for IT budgets, and one we’ve experienced all the time.”

Beam added that there are two ways interim and project IT workers can help. One is when there is a particular project that has a standardized structure in place – meaning that there are good processes where a worker can come in and jump right in, and not need to take time to be trained or “get up to speed.” In these cases, Beam said it is hiring people that he describes fittingly as “plug-and-play,” and noted this can keep the velocity where a company needs it.

“You don’t waste time spinning people up,” noted Beam. “I’ve seen cases where you bring in people and had them processing code and addressing issues in a week. They come in and get straight to work, not training.”

The other consideration for interim workers is to keep everything in a pipeline and not let side projects and extra work bog down the IT department.

“I’ve seen cases where it’s easy for the company to bring in full-time workers, only to have them split their bandwidth taking projects for DevOps, quality assurance (QA) and others, and this creates a backlog for everything,” warned Beam. “You can remedy this by hiring interim workers, and then you make a list of the ten things that need to be addressed, and list them in terms of priority. You stop working on the bottom until the ones at the top are handled. This keeps everything running more smoothly.”

Addressing Worker Fatigue and Burnout

For workers, the ability to take on interim projects could also address job fatigue. It can allow professionals to jump to projects offering new challenges instead of taking on a full-time job that could mean years of doing the same thing day-in, day-out.

“We are seeing this,” said Beam. “This offers the ability for those who like to do something different. We’ve also seen – when the job allows – for some contract individuals to take on extra work. It allows them do something different. If there isn’t a conflict of interest it is a way to pick up these ‘little bitty’ side jobs, and some see as a way to make extra money.”

Given the state of the tight job market, the move towards interim workers in IT could still come down to the availability of talent, and the ability to meet project needs.

“This shift to interim IT workers is something we expect for the foreseeable future, as it also offers a cost alternative that provides speed and lower cost of ownership,” added Beam. “Interim workers don’t typically have the other costs that come with full-time employees. This can allow a team to have a good core and provides a way to extend to surge capacity to get through the heavy times.”

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.