Perhaps the greatest shift across all business segments post-pandemic—if indeed that’s where we are—is the acceleration of the gig economy. A term that once referred mostly to on-demand consumer services such as ridesharing (like Uber) and one-off projects (like UpWork), the gig economy phenomenon is now in full bloom across the employment spectrum, including the C-Suite.
A perfect storm of technological capabilities and desperate requirements has fed this beast and is changing the landscape of talent acquisition and sourcing forever. Already, some 35% of workers in the U.S. are part of the gig economy, and if the growth trend continues, most of the American workforce will be freelancing by 2027.
1. Technology was ready for remote work
For white collar employees who were forced to work from home over much of the past 18 months, the norm of high-speed internet, a computer with a camera and mic, plus reliable video conferencing applications allowed work to get done.
At every level of the organization, including companies who had yet to condone or encourage remote work, the new normal kicked in. Executive team members who’d never been challenged to convene from remote locations learned how to do just that. Parents showed their children how to participate in remote learning, while children showed their parents how to share a screen. Has anyone reflected how difficult this would have been had the pandemic hit even a decade earlier? We were enabled by technology. Thank God it was ready!
2. Talent shopping made easy
Searching for talent through online resources isn’t all that new. LinkedIn has had decades to mature and capture most everyone working or looking for work. Indeed and other players have made talent shopping even easier. But what has emerged is TaaS – or Talent-as-a-Service. Need a pre-vetted SEO expert? Visit MarketerHire.com and find what you need. Right off the shelf. Or instant C-suite talent? Check out CeriusExecutives.com. Full time? Got ‘em. Just for some project work? Check. Fractional or part-time? Of course. TaaS is in full swing. Enabled by prevalent technology. Remote workers, even executives, are now acceptable, sometimes preferred. Instant on. As much or little as you need. Seemingly coming from the cloud. It’s changed talent sourcing forever.
3. Beware imposters
Diligence is required. Especially for fractional hiring in smaller companies. For example, the rise in demand for fractional CMOs—Chief Marketing Officers—has resulted in all sorts of people who have not held executive positions in business, let alone served as a CMO, hang a shingle that declares the title. Even marketing and advertising agencies have gotten into the game.
A principal in the firm will declare themselves a fractional CMO, and position their agency resources as a ready-to-roll outsourced marketing department. Not that there isn’t value in agency-provided marketing and creative services, but buyers must beware of the credentials of the talent they are acquiring. Imposters aren’t limited to the marketing role. Numerous fractional CFO providers serve up executives with this title that only served as a controller, not a CFO. If you need CFO talent, your diligence in background checking and interviewing expertise is going to pay off.
4. Still room for recruiters
All of this newness in talent acquisition platforms and offerings is not only good news for hiring organizations, but it also brings power tools to recruiters. And given the requirement to separate the wheat from the chaff, recruiters are as welcome as ever for some searches. What’s changed is the breadth of searching, the precision, and the speed of finding a fit.
5. Flexibility and fit win the day
Finally, one more thing to consider: given the option of remote working, which represents really the whole value of TaaS, hiring organizations can often try before they buy. Or, they may recognize their requirements will change over time, and the talent they need in a role today may quickly evolve. So, they can more flexibly deploy today’s talent, and swap it out with a better fit as tomorrow’s needs emerge.
The pandemic has accelerated the emergence of Talent-as-a-Service. New options. New ways of acquiring. New levels of flexibility including remote work, instant on and off, as well as a wider search window result in a “best fit” for today and tomorrow. With diligent vetting organizations can win big, as can the freelancers in the growing gig economy.
Pete Hayes is principal and CMO of Chief Outsiders, the nation’s fastest growing fractional CMO company.
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