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Jumping Into the Talent Pool: Every Company Wants the Best

Companies must embrace the reality that the best and brightest most likely won’t want to be on your team unless you update your talent strategy.

If you brought together a group of CEOs, industry leaders, and visionaries to brainstorm about how to achieve success, it would be unanimous that without great talent there can be no success. All companies want teams made up of the best and brightest.

To achieve that, companies must embrace the reality that the best and brightest most likely won’t want to be on your team unless you update your talent strategy. Why? Because by 2020 there will be 65 million consultants and freelancers choosing how, when, and where they want to work. They’re talented, available, and ready to dive in.

So what do I mean when I say “Talent”? I mean consultants, freelancers, experts, and specialists who are all in non-FTE (full-time employee roles). These are the people who make up today’s Talent Pool. According to a 2015 “Freelancing in America” study commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork, this Talent Pool includes:

  • Independent Contractors (36% of the independent workforce/19.3 million professionals)—These “traditional” freelancers don’t have employer, and instead do freelance, temporary, supplemental work on a project-to-project basis.

  • Moonlighters (25%/13.2 million)—Moonlighters are individuals with a primary, traditional job with an employer who also moonlight doing freelance work. For example, a corporate-employed web developer who does projects for nonprofits in the evening is a moonlighter.

  • Diversified Workers (26%/14.1 million)—Diversified workers are people with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work. For example, someone who works the front desk of a dentist’s office 20 hours a week and fills out the rest of his income driving for Uber and doing freelance writing is a diversified worker.

  • Temporary Workers (9%/4.6 million)—Temporary workers are individuals with a single employer, client, job, or contract project where their employment status is temporary. For example, a data entry worker employed by a staffing agency and working on a three-month assignment is a temporary worker.

  • Freelance Business Owners (5%/2.5 million)—Freelancer business owners have one or more employees and consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner. For example, a social marketing guru who hires a team of other social marketers to build a small agency but still identifies as a freelancer is a freelance business owner.

In some large companies a consultant is referred to as a vendor. This is often because they are employees of an approved supplier/provider a company uses. Large corporations typically have formal supplier programs that manage a list of approved suppliers and/or providers. As an Enterprise Marketing Solutions consultancy, this is how we work.

Today, an entire workforce exists that is focused on creating the biggest impact for you in the fastest timeframe possible because that’s all they’ll be doing. To hire fast and hire right, employers will need to embrace a broader definition of talent and create flexible, project-based teams. By widening their vision, they will tap into a much larger pool of available talent and find the smart, creative people they need for each project—regardless of whether these people are consultants, contractors, “supertemps,” freelancers, self-employed, retirees, full-time employees (FTEs), or whatever title they use.

In this new day in the workplace, the work is there and the talent is there. Now the challenge is making the right match. Companies seeking on-demand talent want three things: Agility. Adaptability. Accountability. But often, project roles and the talent aren’t finding each other quickly and efficiently, and that’s the subject of my next article: right people, right time, right results.

Lisa Hufford is founder and CEO of Seattle-based Simplicity Consulting, a consultancy of experts that partners with technology companies to strategically deliver Enterprise Marketing Services. For more than five years, Simplicity has been named to the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Lisa has been named an Inc. Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs, and has been named by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. She is the author of Navigating the Talent Shift: How to Build On-Demand Teams That Drive Innovation, Control Costs, and Get Results.

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