Gigs are more common and more organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements than ever before. Freelance writers and journalists, technical staff, creatives roles designer and developers, plus workers who sign on to gig platforms full or part-time all fall under the contractor category of employment. Additionally, these contractors and temporary workers may be supplementing their full-time income or working odd jobs to get by.
The point here is that the number of these workers continues to grow exponentially. By the year 2020, Intuit predicts the gig economy will represent more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce and that slice of the labor market will grow by 18.5 percent per year over the next five years. In the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, freelance growth has outpaced overall employment growth. The number of freelancers in the European Union doubled between 2000 and 2014, making them the fastest growing group in the EU labor market, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
While the gig economy is a boom for job seekers and especially for those looking for flexible employment, it can create a challenge for recruiters who want to engage gig workers and contract hires. Contract hires generally work for a period of time and are compensated by the hour versus by the project which is historically how gig workers are paid. Their employment history may be fluid and often these workers have multiple gigs they are working from time to time. Retention can be difficult, as can outpacing the large segment of the economy that has name recognition, like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, freelance service marketplace Fiverr, and so on.
How to Reach Gig and Contract Employees
Unless your company is a well-known brand, your recruitment team is likely working hard if you’re trying to fill contract and gig positions. It takes elevating your employer brand, offering something that larger companies don’t, and creatively reaching this candidate audience online. This means using all of the tools in your recruitment marketing toolbox, plus some that are unique to this candidate demographic.
Recruiting gig workers means understanding the appeal of contract positions. Highly educated and talented candidates are shifting to contract work because it maximizes their earning power and leads to higher overall salaries, gives them flexibility (because they get paid for the time worked, unlike salaried positions with set hours and earned PTO), offers job security and an overall sense of being in charge of their own success and failure. When it comes to your company’s offerings, you’ll want to ensure that you have competitive wages, the option to work remotely for technical or creative contractors, channels of communication designed for a contingent workforce, and a reason for your contractors to stick around.
Building Talent Pipelines for Contract and Gig Workers
Here are four strategies for building a strong talent pipeline for gig and contract workers:
LinkedIn or Facebook Groups
Creating a social media group is a powerful tool to engage with currently contracting employees who may not be thrilled with their current positions, or who could have a contract end at any time. A great example is Austin Digital Jobs on Facebook, which has exploded to over 40,000 members in the past several years. This is a moderated and supportive group offering resources to contractors, as well as a place for recruiters looking for contract employees and relationship building with the community. Community members ask questions, get information on local companies hiring contractors from the contractors who work for them, ask for advice with employment issues, and so on. As a recruiter in this space, it takes a bit of finesse to become part of the community. You’ll want to start by being a resource, offer helpful information, and interact with community members before you start blasting your job listings.
You can also create your own group, but so many exist in large cities where there are likely to be a high percentage of contractors that you’re going to get more value out of joining an existing group. If you’re uncertain if the group allows job postings or recruitment listings, read the group rules before jumping in, or reach out to a moderator.
Create online funnels with resources and content
We’ve talked about content marketing being a cornerstone of recruitment marketing before. Using content marketing via email campaigns allows you to grow your talent pool and keep candidates engaged with your employer brand, whether you’re scaling up hiring efforts or not. The best time to adopt a content marketing strategy is before you actually need to hire. This helps build relationships with the top candidates you want to reach, and identifying funnel stages (awareness, consideration, application) in which you can modify your content based on where your candidate is in the funnel – not where your company is in the hiring process.
Events – both online and in person
In person events should to be less “office tour” and more panel type conversations along with light food and beverages. You’ll want to offer valuable information for contractors along with the perks of working for your company. For online events, which work well for a contractor demographic, you can promote “virtual open houses” or online “meet the hiring manager” events. For a Facebook live event, you could show candidates what a few minutes on the job are like, introduce some co-workers, or do a question and answer session about a job opening.
Build a referral network
Back to content marketing, when communicating with candidates who are potential contractors (whether by email list from an event or an application process), they should receive a list of candidate resources to help them in their job search, whether they sign on with your organization or with someone else. The key is to create not just a candidate experience but to create a referral source for that continues to drive high quality job seekers helping to expand and grow your employment brand. Your former contractors are also going to be a great resource for referrals, Having a regular email newsletter as part of your content marketing can alert former contractors to open positions, even if they’re happy where they are, they’re more likely to refer colleagues to your company.
As recruiting leaders, it’s important that we recognize trends in recruiting and be nimble enough to change with them. Contract and gig work is only going to increase in the future and your success or failure in recruiting talent depends on your ability to adapt your strategy to accommodate a next-generation workforce. The competition to engage and contract with these A-player gig and contract workers is only going to increase. It’s up to you to focus on your creating a memorable candidate experience for the new workforce.