The workforce is changing. With all of the layoffs and business closures, contingent work is growing. Some workers have taken their future into their own hands by starting their own company. Others are signing up with specialized temp agencies, staffing firms and finding profitable contract work. I’m going to share a few thoughts and helpful resources worth checking out, if you happen to be in this situation of trying to decide what’s next in your work life.

Recent articles at CBS point to many of the changes that are happening . “Who Wins, Who Loses” is a great piece by Nancy F. Smith about what’s happening in the job market. She talks about women and boomers as well as how full time work itself is morphing. She points to a special section called The Accidental Consultant that shows the flexible workforce in action. Further, they ran a piece showing how freelancers are in demand.

Call It What You Will: Freelancing, Contracting, Locum Tenens, Flex Work

In my opinion, many workers are seriously considering or moving into contract work because of the flexibility and control. There is no longer the stigma for being a freelancer or contractor. Many employers look at the entrepreneurial energy that a displaced worker has compared to someone who stays unemployed. It doesn’t matter if you plan to stay a contractor or are doing it to fill the gap, specialized staffing firms are growing in response to this opportunity.

I’m talking about niche staffing firms — agencies that work in very specific areas. Call centers that do outbound appointment setting with a virtual team. Perfusionists, Certified Nurse Anesthesists (CNA, CRNA), Nurses (RN, LPN, LVN), pharmacists are just a few in the medical field. Event management staffing (think stadiums, national conferences, film festivals). The list goes on.  If you have a specialty, there’s a good chance there is either an existing staffing firm that does just that, or the market needs you to start one. did a piece on finding and managing contract staff by Dustin Walling in mid 2007 that is still relevant and useful.

They also ran a post from Jennifer Moline from Dec 2008 that offered an alternate viewpoint on how contract work can be dangerous (she blogged about someone else’s article). She ends with how the growth in IT staffing is clear and steady, though.

Opportunity Abounds Despite Recession

Some of the greatest companies in history were created during tough economic times. Hopefully this resource list will help as you contemplate new work opportunities — full time, part time, flex time, contract, freelance, temp, or entrepreneurial.