Independent Talent Trends, Revealed [Report]

independent talent trends - report cover

Every year, Business Talent Group analyzes proprietary data to reveal the trends that are shaping the independent consulting economy and help F1000 executives understand the power of on-demand talent—and what it can help them accomplish. This year’s results are summarized in our 2020 High-End Independent Talent Report.

So how are F1000 companies leveraging independent consultants, experts, and executives? What emerges from the data is a vivid picture of cutting-edge skills and initiatives, from business intelligence to business process improvement.

And no surprise: the shortage of critical skills is one of business leaders’ biggest concerns. 83% of companies report skills gaps that threaten their organization’s ability to prepare for the future. 66% of HR leaders say addressing these skills gaps is the top priority for growing the business.

Fortunately, independent talent has emerged as a powerful resource for addressing these shortages. Nearly one-third of global workers are free agents, and 80% of global CHROs predict that their deployment of these nontraditional workers will increase in the coming years.

2020: Independent Talent Trends

So what critical projects are independent consultants working on?

Read the full report to learn:

  • The most in-demand project types and skills across all industries and business functions
  • Industry- and function-specific spotlights with examples of real problems independents have helped solve in each area
  • Rising demand for process-related projects as companies transform their operations to grapple with radical shifts in the business landscape
  • Increased reliance on independent talent for advanced analytics and other digital skills difficult to source in the full-time market
  • The changing role of interim leaders—no longer confined to stopgap positions during executive searches—who now pilot initiatives, advise permanent execs, and address skills gaps in hard-to-hire areas from the C-suite to Director levels

For two years in a row, marketing and sales strategy projects have topped the list, with independent experts assisting on everything from highly specialized pharmaceutical product launches to digital marketing campaigns. Project management is the most-requested skill, as it has been for the past three years.

New this year: a rise in the number of process-related projects, as companies seek to transform their operations and respond to radical shifts in the business landscape.

2019: Independent Talent Trends

In 2018, the greatest needs were for project leadership in highly specialized niches like supply chain, disruptive innovation, and market access. 2019 was no different, according to our analysis. Given the dismally low completion rate of most corporate projects, it suggests savvy companies have realized that freelance project management consultants can provide critical support in situations where resources are tight or teams are distracted by competing priorities.

BTG’s research is based on an analysis of 12 months of client needs, with the goal of understanding how these professionals are helping large companies get work done.

“In a tight labor market, companies turn to independent professionals for cutting-edge skills that often can’t be found anywhere else. We are thrilled to help executives understand the breadth of what these professionals can accomplish—and the many ways they can make a difference on mission-critical initiatives,” Jody Greenstone Miller, Business Talent Group’s CEO and co-founder, commented.

To see the latest trends and sample projects across all industries and by business function, read the report.

Top Trends in Independent Consulting

How did freelance consultants helped other F1000 executives? Read our 2020 report to find out.



About the Author

Leah Hoffmann

Leah Hoffmann is BTG's Content Strategist. A former journalist, Leah worked for and The Economist before joining BTG. She is passionate about clear thinking, sharp writing, and strong points of view.

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