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Have We Entered the Age of the Supertemps?


Author Daniel Pink has been writing about the “free agent nation” for over a decade, but a new breed of so-called “supertemps” is on the rise. These independent contractors are highly educated, experienced professionals who opt to string together project-based work instead of working for one company full-time. Supertemps typically enjoy higher incomes and more flexibility as independent workers while still doing mission-critical work that leverages their expertise.

What’s driving this shift in high-end work? Harvard Business Review cites several factors:

The forces driving this convergence are as impersonal as the Great Recession and as individual as a dream. For the talent, project-based work has simply become more attractive than the alternative. Today technology makes it easy to plug in, the corporate social contract guaranteeing job security and plush benefits is dead or dying, and 80-hour weeks are all too common in high-powered full-time jobs. The surprise may be not that top talent is looking for “permanent temp work” but that anyone who has a choice would want a traditional job.

In response, companies are finding ways to work with professionals who would rather stay out of a traditional work environment. In 2011, McKinsey ran a survey and discovered that 58 percent of American businesses plan to use “temporary arrangements” at all employee ranks. For context, that’s almost three times the percentage of companies that are planning to outsource jobs overseas.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Are you a supertemp? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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Marissa Brassfield
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