The apparent shortage of engineers in France has often been seen as a major threat to business competitiveness. Because of high demand and important mobility among engineers, recruiting tech/data profiles has indeed become quite a tour de force in our country. While sexy startups and tech giants have been deemed the biggest culprits – drawing engineers like magnets with fancy employment conditions – other businesses must remember that there is another variable to the whole equation. Namely: the growing number of freelancers among techies.

According to a report by the European Forum for Independent Professionals (EFIP), freelancers make up to 25% of the workforce in technical jobs across the European Union. Among their ranks are numerous engineers who opted for independence in order to choose which missions they accept or not, according to their own goals and interests. Far from being a threat, such a rise in on-demand developers should be seen as a true opportunity by companies looking to hire. To understand why, let’s take a look at the 7 situations in which contracting a freelancer can make a big difference.

1. DEVELOPING A PROTOTYPE

Thanks to the rising popularity of freelancing among engineers, companies now have easy access to a wide range of technical profiles on an on-demand basis. For entrepreneurs (or intrapreneurs), that means being able to move from 0 to 1 by delegating prototype creation to an independent developer. Which, incidentally, is the fastest solution to test a product/market fit.

2. KEEPING A PROJECT MOVING WHILE HIRING

Freelancers can help businesses save big amounts of time, a precious commodity in any competitive environment. As of today, hiring engineers can be a lengthy process and cause major project slow-downs: signing a freelancer to tackle the work while full-time prospective employees are being screened can avoid such inefficient – and costly – delays.

3. STRENGTHENING A TEAM ON DEMAND

Freelancers can constitute a great adjustment resource to deal with peaks in activity. By allowing companies to jack up their technical capacities as needed without committing for the long run, they prevent regular employees from bearing the brunt – and thus help avoid drops in productivity, or even burnouts.

4. ACCESSING NEW TECHNICAL SKILLS

Having a pool of on-demand specialists allows companies to reach beyond their in-house capacities and skills. And it’s not just technical: freelancers are usually entrepreneurial-minded workers with strong adaptation skills and a neverending thirst for learning, qualities which make them great at helping projects move hard, better, and faster.

5. DEVELOPING SIDE PROJECTS

Every year, many companies have to put smart projects on the back-burner just because of limited in-house capacities. While this is understandable in the short run, it might actually harm businesses in the long run by lowering their ability to try out new things and create innovation out of experimentation. Allocating side projects to freelancers allows companies to move forward on several grounds, while keeping their key resources focused on high-priority projects.

6. GAINING KNOWLEDGE BEFORE SCALING TEAMS

Freelancers with several years’ worth of experience usually know how to work with all kinds of technical teams. This means that their advice and feedback can be valuable to help growing companies evaluate their future HR needs, choose appropriate technologies, prepare interviews, and anticipate a team’s evolution in the longer run.

7. COACHING REGULAR EMPLOYEES

Beyond execution, freelancers can help companies with internal training. Thanks to a unique vision and set of skills, they are often outstanding coaches and excel at assisting employees and managers efficiently on specific issues.

Thanks to the rise of the on-demand economy, hiring freelancers is slowly becoming a no-brainer. As flexible workers with a true knack for innovation, independent experts can provide many competitive advantages to those who know how to work with them. Companies which are not familiar with freelancers just need to realize how valuable an opportunity they provide – and to seize it to win the talent war.

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