Recruiting in the Gig Economy

With the economy on the uptick, many employers find themselves flush with openings, which means job candidates have more options to choose from than in recent years, and a little more control in the hiring process. There’s another wrinkle that’s helping to fuel the selective nature of job candidates: more of them are plunging into the freelance waters in what’s commonly referred to as the gig economy.

Gig Economy Recruiting

The gig economy is a new kind of competition for talent.

If you’re not sure what the gig economy is all about, don’t worry—you’re not alone. In many ways, people are still defining it.

At its core, it refers to a trend where more of today’s workers are seeking to work “gigs,” or freelance jobs, rather than opting for a steady, full-time position. In so doing, these workers are trading away things like a predictable salary, health benefits, and a chance to collaborate within the structure of a workplace, and choosing variety, flexibility, and more control over their day-to-day lives.

Freelancing is nothing new. But the shape of it is changing.

According to a survey by the Freelancers Union, more people than ever are delving into freelance work—and many are making careers out of it. As many as 55 million people—35% of the nation’s workforce—now consider themselves freelancers. Among millennials, who make up the largest age group in the country’s workforce, one-third currently identify as independent contractors. And according to the recent Intuit 2020 report, 40% of the nation’s workforce will be freelance within three years.

Remember to ensure you classify independent contractors correctly. Individuals may want to be independent contractors, but if they meet the definition of employee there are penalties for treating them as independent contractors.

What’s driving the shift?

Technology is very much at the heart of this new dynamic. From advances in cloud-based servers, to online meeting spaces and collaboration tools, it’s easier than ever to create seamless virtual work environments. For many freelancers, and the businesses that contract with them, these changes drop barriers related to geography. Depending on your industry, your team can be spread across cities, states, countries and time zones, with nothing more than shared access to files and a group calendar to keep things organized.

What does it mean for hiring?

Obviously, the gig economy is a good thing if your business brings on freelance employees. Many mobile gig workers possess the types of skills that help fill out teams, and support niche or specialized projects. So if your business is looking to expand this base, this is probably a great time to do so.

Report on the Gig Economy

The gig economy is changing American businesses in many ways, and HR professionals are on the front line. Our latest Spotlight report, “What Are Candidates Thinking When They Look at Your Job Application?” goes deeper into the mindset of today’s candidates, many of whom are looking for flexibility and autonomy.

Download Your Report

Recruiting Full-Time Employees from the Gig Economy Pool

But what if your business is looking traditional, 9-to-5 employees?

For employers who depend on a steady, full-time workforce, the gig economy can certainly create more obstacles, especially if you’re already struggling to fill openings in today’s candidate-driven environment. After all, why should a candidate who has come to value his or her flexibility and freelance lifestyle suddenly take a full-time position?

But before you bury your head in the sand, take a deep breath and consider ways that the promises of the gig economy can actually inform and support your recruiting efforts, starting with how you write job descriptions:

  1. Communicate the parts of your job opening that relate to gig workers. For instance, things like flex hours and working remotely may already be part of how your business operates. These things matter to gig workers. Going deeper into your work environment, does your culture give workers a chance to “be their own boss?” Does the job opening require a “self-starter?” Does it support “autonomy?” These two are part of the gig economy’s allure. For freelance employees who might be looking for something more stable, but don’t want to lose the aspects of their freelance lives they enjoy the most, they’ll appreciate being able to bring their spirit with them to a career change.
  2. As you consider the more idealistic promises of gig work—things like freedom and independence, for instance—remember that they have flip sides as well—such as uncertainty and isolation. As you prepare job descriptions, point out the areas that speak to these realities, including things like stability and security, or even process-related words like collaboration, mentoring, and growth. And if your employees average 10+ years with the company, highlight this fact as well.
  3. Youth might be served in the gig economy, but what about experience? As younger professionals launch their freelance careers, they compete directly with established professionals. Often times, this new competition comes with lower salary expectations. For an established freelancer who’s suddenly losing opportunities to less expensive competition, now may be the perfect time for them to look for a change. As you consider luring these experienced freelancers back into a full-time environment, highlight the fact that your company is looking for someone who can handle multiple clients at once, wants someone with an entrepreneurial track record, and has a team of thought leaders who come together as peers.

Applicant Tracking Systems and the Gig Economy

The recruiting landscape is in constant flux. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your applicant tracking system is flexible, scalable, and built for your present and future needs. Contact myStaffingPro, and find out how we can support your recruiting and hiring efforts today and tomorrow.

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