The end of work as we know it

By John Kador, InfoWorld |  Career

This is not your father's career

The increased use of and opportunities for the contingent workforce in the
information technology industry are fueled by the very thing spurring the industry's
growth -- the World Wide Web. The Net has disrupted the economy so completely that the
old model of working for one company until retirement seems quaint. Today a career is
not made with one organization; it's made of a series of projects and problem sets.
This change opens the door to the possibility of a successful white-collar career as a
contingent worker: The temporary labor pool has gone upscale, representing not only
blue collar and secretarial but also technical, professional, and managerial workers.
This breed of temporary also has access to increasing professional support: They can
subscribe to industry newsletters or join unions and associations organized to promote
their causes.

Technical contract employees differ from temps in that the former provide specific,
advanced, technical and professional skills. As a result, they are paid more than
nontechnical temps. Technical temps also tend to have longer assignments. In other
respects contract employees are similar to regular temps.

A breed apart

Not everyone is cut out to join the contingent workforce. To be a successful member
of the alternative army of workers, a recruit must be comfortable handling the
responsibility for his or her own future. Contractors and technical temporaries, while
in demand, cannot always be sure what the next assignment will be. There is still some
risk to not being an in-house employee.

But the opportunities abound for IT professionals who want alternatives to regular,
full-time work. Contingent workers, consultants, contractors, and free agents are wooed
by job board providers and temporary help agencies, such as Ants.com, Manpower, and
Fanning/Uniforce.

"These people are an enterprising group who arre quite happy steering the course of
their own careers. For at least three-quarters of independents, the choice to go solo
was not economically necessary but instead driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. To be
one's own boss was most important to male contractors, whereas their female
counterparts appreciate the scheduling flexibility and increased ability to tend to
family matters," Net-Temps' Heaton says.

Defining the titles: Contractor or technical temp

Contract employees are skilled temporaries who are employed by a contract
employment agency. These leased employees, or technical temps, are then assigned to a
client company under terms specified by a contract between the agency and the client
company.

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