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Revealing hidden talents

We are experiencing a fundamental transformation in the structure of the labour market, driven largely by technology, demographics and economics. Millions of people are working more flexibly and enabling organisations to become more responsive and agile in the battle to retain competitive edge. Victoria Butt, founder of, investigates how HR needs to adapt in today’s changing talent market.

The world of work has changed at an astonishing rate in the past twenty years as anyone responsible for recruiting, developing and retaining talent will confirm. The constant disruption of changing economic, environmental, social and political changes mean that, increasingly, organisations realise that being innovative and constantly adapting to deal with these changes is essential for survival and success today. Organisations must respond quickly and HR Directors and Heads of Recruitment and Talent share the same dilemma: how to find and retain the people with the right skills to deal with organisational challenges right now.

Technology is altering the way we work – at an individual, team, and organisational level. Digital technologies are creating new areas of work and new industries. We’re re-thinking how we manage workplaces. HR and recruitment professionals must adapt their talent strategy to address this. Forward-thinking organisations are increasingly competing on a global scale by seeking out the best talent through the use of professional contractors, consultants and interims, whilst staying lean and responsive.

The contingent market is growing at three to four times the rate of the permanent market. Building networks of contingent workers, who can be cherry-picked, as required, is reaping rewards. Its popularity began in the IT industry, however, the requirement for interim experts across all disciplines is growing – particularly in sales, marketing, legal, property services and office support. The Contractor market in UK is worth £20bn with a forecast growth of 200 percent in the next 10 years. A recent report from PCG, found there are now over 1.4 million freelancers in the UK.

What organisations increasingly require are people to fulfil a very specific business need, to provide competitive edge and fresh insight from other organisations and industries. Contingent workers bring something essential to the table – a scarce skillset and significant career history across multiple sectors. This doesn’t just benefit employers. Millions of people are working more flexibly, juggling work life and home life. Portfolio working can bring far-reaching benefits: reducing work-related stress, absenteeism, unemployment and improving work/life balance.

Three demographic groups are driving the trend in the acceleration of the growth of the contractor market: Baby Boomers (80 percent plan to work past retirement, part-time or as Consultants/Contractors), Gen X (responsible for concept of a work/life balance) and Gen Y (likely to change careers ten times before they are 40, making contingent working an attractive option).

There is, however, a lack of resource to find and hire Contractors directly. This may be because a company is too small to have a dedicated HR function, or they’re larger but their HR function is only resourced to focus on permanent employees. Technology and social networks will increasingly be used to source Contractors and promote vacancies. The global online recruitment market is set to grow at compound annual rate of 14.53 percent between 2012-2016, with the key contributing factor being the growth of social media platforms and the increasing use of mobile recruitment. It takes most Contractors six to 12 weeks to find a role, making it essential to for recruitment professionals to improve their networks to find the right people, with the right skills to avoid these time periods where talent is not utilised. To find these creative and distinctive individuals, HR needs to get better at matching candidates to roles and the industry needs to embrace technology further to build networks, save time and streamline processes to recruit contingency talent efficiently.

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