Yes, I know it's been 2009 for almost a week now. However, it's still early enough where I feel I can participate in the prognostication of what the year will bring in the subject my blog covers. So today, I'm going to look ahead at what I think 2009 will bring for consultants and contractors.
On the one hand, companies have been and will continue to slow their hiring, pretty much not doing so unless they have to in order to keep running, at least for now. This will affect contractors, consultants, and temps just as much as it does regular employees. Furthermore, when there are layoffs, they will definitely be included, and may be among the first to go.
Yeah, that's some deep analysis, I know. However, there's another side to this. When companies do have a staffing need for a project or business expansion, many of them will be more likely to use outside vendors first rather than go to the trouble and cost of hiring regular employees (especially if they think -- or know -- they'll just need to lay them off later). Additionally, it's also possible that companies will decide to make a greater use of vendors as part of their normal workforce composition too. So there will be opportunities as well as challenges in the months ahead.
Overall, I think it will definitely be a tougher year than 2008, but the work isn't going to dry up completely, and there's always the chance things could turn around sooner than it seems. Though I am trying to keep my expectations low, I remain cautiously optimistic.