The appeal of having a high-pressure, high-pay corporate job is slowly waning among today’s young workers. The realization that there is much more to life than 40-hour work weeks is dawning upon the younger section of the workforce. This massive shift in perception has led to an increasing percentage of millennials desiring jobs that offer more freedom, fewer restrictions, and flexible commitments. No wonder then, that freelancing has become the ideal career option for a majority of the working population today, especially the youth. And to cater to an economy dominated by freelancers and short-term contract workers, job boards have to adapt their strategy. Job boards have to understand the rules that govern this new, transformed economy and learn to play by them.
Everybody wants to freelance
If you browse through online freelance job sites, you will notice that every job profile, bar a few, has freelancers. Be it graphic design, digital marketing, customer service, or application development; you’ll find plenty of freelancers to take the job.
The primary reason for people preferring freelance work over full-time, corporate roles is the freedom that the former offers. A majority of the active workforce is disengaged at work and finds its work unsatisfactory. A common cause for this is their incompatibility with the organizational work culture. Having an inflexible work culture can make employees feel constrained and disengaged. Employees also grow disinterested in their jobs due to monotony and the inability to switch between functions, regardless of aptitude. Indifferent employees are highly likely to quit and consider freelancing. The desire to do what they’re passionate about and to be recognized for it can also lead to people choosing to freelance. A mix of these reasons is also responsible for why so many candidates today are inclined to work with startups. Working in a startup offers employees with more freedom and mobility between roles, which is usually not the case in traditional corporations.
Most millennials want to choose what they do, when they do it, and where they do it. This is why even corporate employers are pushing for digital business initiatives to enable employees to work from anywhere. Companies also provide options like work-from-home and flexible working hours to attract recruits, both young and experienced. Freelancing also enables people to have multiple clients, instead of just one, as is the case with most full-time jobs. Having multiple clients offers more security, high exposure, and less monotony.
We’re shifting to a gig economy
Since freelancing can be immensely gratifying, a majority of the employed population in the US is engaged in it. The market for freelancers keeps growing. In fact in the recent years, the freelance workforce in the US grew three times faster than the overall US workforce. Add to this the fact that nearly half of the US workforce comprises of freelancers, making it quite obvious that we are turning into a gig economy.
As the older generation of workers retire, and the new generation takes over, freelancers will make up the majority of the workforce. Freelancers are expected to break even and make up a majority of the workforce in the next few years. And this trend does not apply to the US alone, but also to the rest of the world.
Companies seek freelancers to perform jobs or projects that need special expertise or skill. Since certain skills do not pertain to their core business operations, companies do not hire such talent on-roll. It makes sense, as paying regular wages to someone who is only utilized about once a year is wasteful.
In a gig economy, where the majority of workers are freelancers or short contractees, the term ‘employee turnover’ will be redefined. While organizations will still have a majority of on-roll, permanent employees, especially in the managerial and executive roles, hiring freelancers and awarding contracts will become a major business function. Employers and recruiters face a number of challenges when trying to find the right people for projects, such as:
- Finding the right fit – regardless of the short-term and transactional nature of the relationship, finding the right people for a project or a company is a must
- Negotiating – although services will usually have fixed prices, there will still be opportunities to negotiate. Frequent projects will mean a constant need for negotiating and reaching agreements
- Establishing communication channels – since both the hiring organization and the freelancer will be collaborating, a standard line of communication (e.g., contact person) should be established
Companies should become extra-diligent while hiring freelancers for projects and will need to establish standard procedures for doing so.
Opportunities are emerging for job boards
Operating in a gig economy entails an increase in the hiring frequency. A higher hiring frequency will serve as an opportunity for job boards. Employers would need to use job boards to advertise for the increasing freelance positions. Besides, more and more freelancers will be visiting a job board for landing a project. Job boards, which are already established as intermediaries in the job market, can play a valuable role in this setting.
As more freelancers enter the job market, employers face the challenge of sorting out the best and the most suitable candidates for their project. Freelancers face the challenge of having to compete with a large crowd of other freelancers for the best projects. Job boards can provide a platform to connect both the parties, the employer and the candidate, and potentially gain profits from both ends. However, this would require job boards to transcend their traditional way of operating.
In addition to using job posting software to post job openings on their website, job boards can list freelancer profiles. This will enable employers to filter out the best people for the job, without wasting too much time searching. Job boards can also verify and list the previous projects undertaken by freelancers to act as their portfolio. Job boards can essentially function as a networking site that enables both, employers and freelancers, to search and find their best match. Job boards can also consider revenue opportunities from both ends by charging both the parties for the services they avail.
To provide real value to both employers and freelance job-seekers, job boards should upgrade their information-gathering technology. Using advanced analytics to parse jobs and projects from the most obscure sources will offer a clear advantage over peers. Using advanced, highly customized job posting software, can handle large volumes of job data without compromising quality. With the tedious, time-consuming task of job aggregation taken care of, job board owners can focus on improving freelancer-friendliness.
The current trends are pointing towards a freelancer-dominated gig economy. Employers hiring freelancers on a per-project basis is a trend that is already gaining prevalence. As freelancers continue to outnumber the traditionally employed, job boards must strategize to include them in their plans. In fact, it would be wiser for job boards to focus on identifying revenue opportunities in a gig economy. Using job posting software, like the one by Propellum, will ensure that a job board becomes the most comprehensive job source platform and stands out from the competition.