2022 on-demand talent acquisition predictions for top functional/industry skills

2022 on-demand talent acquisition predictions for top functional/industry skills

2021 was an unprecedented year for on-demand hiring. As employees joined the Great Resignation in search of greater flexibility, pay, and freedom, companies were left to fill in the gaps on their teams amid a tight labor market. Many turned to on-demand hiring to supplement and scale their teams as a result. 

On Graphite, we saw this shift first hand. Spend for independent experts rose by 170% across key functional and industry skills in 2021, such as corporate strategy (559% YoY), market research (687% YoY), life sciences (106%YoY), and operations (251% YoY), to name a few. 

But what can we expect for 2022? What will be the areas businesses will focus on this year? We crunched the data and analyzed the trends to produce the top 2022 predictions for key industry and functional skills. Take a look. 

What will be the most in-demand functional skills in 2022? 

Corporate Strategy

The need for corporate strategy expertise in 2021 was substantially high as companies scoured the market for independent subject matter expertise in M&A support. It’s no wonder that 2021 was a record-breaking year for M&A deals, hitting an all-time peak of $5 trillion by December.  

As we look ahead, 2022 is shaping up to be much of the same. Research from KPMG validates this trend with senior leadership confirming their drive to continue investing in M&A deals to fortify their businesses. Other factors contributing to an uptick in M&A deals are the need to drive the valuation of their business profiles and address the skills shortage gap via M&A deals. 

Philip J. Isom, a Principal at KPMG, states, “The reality is that the shortfall in skilled labor is an immediate issue, so many CEOs are looking at M&A as a near-term solution.” It’s why we predict that the increase in M&A deals will ultimately drive an uptick for highly skilled professionals for human capital, digital transformation, and technology expertise. 

Sales & Marketing 

In 2021, businesses rapidly shifted their go-to-market (GTM) and digital advertising strategies to better meet changing consumer needs. Demand for GTM expertise on Graphite grew by 522% YoY, with digital advertising following close behind at 314% YoY. 2022 will build on these foundations. 

Companies will continue to heavily invest in digital marketing strategies and market research to learn how to better address their target audience. More specifically, there will be an increased emphasis on creating and delivering hybrid consumer experiences that successfully blur the lines between the digital and physical world. A central component to accomplishing this goal is harnessing the power of data. 

Market Research 

With companies acquiring new businesses and developing new products and services to thrive in today’s digital world, market research rose as an in-demand skill in 2021. Companies heavily invested in market research to understand how to best position the business in emerging markets, better understand their employees and consumers, and more. 

It’s no wonder that spend for market research expertise on Graphite grew by 687% YoY. Based on conversations with clients on the platform and current market trends, market research is poised to maintain its momentum from 2021 this year. Key sub-functional skills that will be in high demand are primary research, secondary research, and market mapping. 

Like sales and marketing, understanding how to leverage technology advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) will enable businesses to leverage data to make sound business decisions. 

Technology &  IT 

The pandemic put various business transformation initiatives on overdrive. What took companies two years to accomplish is now being compressed into a couple of months as companies seek to drive efficiency and build resiliency into the organization. 

Areas businesses tended to focus on in 2021 were cybersecurity and IT transformation. And as we look at our data, these areas are set to be at the top of the agenda list for many organizations. Doing so sets up companies to future-proof their investments and ensures the profitability and longevity of the business. 

Here at Graphite, we expect companies to continue their spend on technology and IT expertise as companies figure out how to leverage emerging technologies and IT transformations to create value for their customers and business. 

Human Resources 

Unlike other functional skills, human resources (HR) has expanded its role in business largely due to the pandemic. Business leaders looking to address skills shortages are turning to HR to address their teams’ capacity and capability gaps. One particular skill set that rose to prominence during this time period was human capital management. 

Driven largely by the increase in M&A transactions and businesses retooling their service/product offerings, human capital expertise has seen a surge as companies look for ways to drive efficiency and productivity in a tight labor market. Even more so now, as nearly three-quarters of CEOs expect labor and skills shortages to continue influencing and disrupting their strategies for the foreseeable future. 

One strategy growing in popularity is on-demand hiring because it enables companies to strategically scale their workforce as business and customer needs evolve. Companies that take this approach are twice as likely to report strong performance and also deliver better results per dollar spent.


A consistent theme throughout the pandemic has been supply chain disruptions. This them continue in 2022. In 2021, businesses doubled down on key investments to streamline production and improve efficiency. 

Over 87% of supply chain professionals plan to invest in technologies to support business performance innovation, including the use of real-time transportation visibility platforms, AI, advanced analytics, and robotics. 

But one central theme around the supply chain issue in 2022 will be the inclusion of more environment, social, and government (ESG) considerations into supply chain strategies. 

What will be the most in-demand industry skills in 2022? 


With supply chain disruptions predicted to continue well into 2022, demand for manufacturing expertise is predicted to follow. Looking back at 2021, businesses seeking to address worker shortages, supply chain issues, and increased shipping costs turned to hiring subject matter experts on-demand to identify sustainable manufacturing practices to scale and grow their business. 

Spend for manufacturing expertise on Graphite grew by 252% YoY. We expect this trend to continue as sustainability forces the industry to innovate. This will play out in the remaining part of the year with companies investing in smart manufacturing technologies, automation, the internet of things (IoT), AI, and big data. 


The pandemic saw the evolution of consumer behavior, with many turning to digital channels to connect with family, work, and brands. In turn, retailers were forced to reimagine how they connect and engage consumers where and how they want. This spurred the accelerated adoption of omnichannel strategies across the industry. 

We saw this in 2021 with investments in contactless shopping and payment technologies and the further blurring of the lines between the physical and digital world. Many retailers turned to the on-demand workforce to adapt to this new reality. On Graphite, we saw this growth with spend for retail expertise up 460% YoY. 

As we look ahead, we’ll continue to see demand for retail soar as companies continue to retool their strategies — investing in smart technologies like AI, VR/AR, and sensors to deliver excellent omnichannel customer experience at scale. 

Life Sciences

The life sciences industry has continued on the road to transformation since the pandemic’s start. 2021 saw this in the form of new vaccine development, the rise of telemedicine, a renewed focus on patient-centric experiences, and the expansion of the healthcare workforce. 

These innovations also had a positive impact on the supply chain, improving patient outcomes worldwide along with accelerated timelines for digitization initiatives. With COVID variants expected to continue to crop up now and beyond, the momentum initiated in early 2020 will be sustained well into 2022. 

One particular focus area this year for life science will be the use of AI in the drug discovery market, which is expected to grow by an annual compounded rate of 36% by 2025. Other areas of focus will include patient-centric business models and harnessing the power of technology to unlock future value and growth. 

The future's looking bright for on-demand hiring

As companies continue to see the strategic value of using the on-demand workforce to scale their business, add agility, and power innovation, it's only expected that the use of the on-demand hiring model will continue to grow. Industry research confirms this trend as business leaders report that the use of on-demand hiring platforms like Graphite will be central to their ability to compete in the future. 

Interested in learning more about these trends and how companies are building high-performing teams with on-demand hiring? Download our annual research report 2022 State of Independent Workforce to explore the findings and more.

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