The universal law of business: If you want to be the best, you must hire the best. Which is probably why hiring is one of the most challenging processes in a business.
Finding people who not only have the right skills, but also the right cultural fit for your organisation seems like a herculean effort. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. It’s prone to errors. Get it right, and everything else falls into place. Get it wrong, and everything falls apart.
It certainly doesn’t help that hiring can be such a slow procedure – especially when the need to get talent through the door can require immediate action. If your organisation is missing an essential skill-set, it can end up costing a lot of money.
When time is of the essence, people turn to freelancers. A smart move, in my opinion. Freelancers can move quickly and are often more efficient hires, especially on project-based or seasonal work.
It would be ridiculous to pretend that employers don’t have hesitations in hiring freelance talent. Typically, this reluctance stems not from their experience of working with freelancers, but from the common myth that full-time employees are a ‘better investment’.
Indeed, full-time employees stay in their jobs longer (that’s par for the course), they usually work on-site, and they are likely to know much more about the company’s internal processes. There is also a perception that they are more loyal than freelancers, and more likely to put in the work needed to drive business success. This isn’t necessarily true.
After all, full-time employees are in a much more comfortable position – they have negotiated a permanent contract and once they’ve passed the probationary stage, getting rid of them generally requires a significant amount of time, effort, and red tape.
Freelancers, on the other hand, know they must prove their value every day. It’s likely they have a higher hourly rate, which – justifiably – attracts greater scrutiny. With a temporary contract, they know that if they don’t deliver, they won’t be coming back. That pressure can help push them to go over and above, doing everything they can to showcase their talents and earn further work or a positive reference.
The perception of freelancers as outsiders can also derail relationships right from the start. As a business, you can accomplish a lot with ‘siege-mentality’, and bringing in a freelancer can seem like welcoming in an impostor. Get over it. Freelancers might not know the organisation’s day-to-day systems, but they can offer a lot of value – even if that includes an outside perspective
It’s also all too frequent that freelancers who are at the top of their field are put into roles as artisans, rather than experts.
Don’t just think of freelancers as a quick fix or only treat them as hired hands, this is ignoring the reason they’ve been successful so far in their industry. Freelancers can offer a strategic partnership – not just a ‘plaster’ for a pressing business concern.
Of course, every situation is different, and as with any talent, finding the right freelancers can be challenging.
A big part of the job search is trust. Being sure that the person you’re bringing in has the skills to do what you need them to do. As the gig-economy becomes more prevalent, finding a way of verifying the expertise and experience of freelancers is becoming an even more crucial step in the on-boarding process..
The UK has some of the world’s best talent; people from all ages, genders and ethnicities with the skills, expertise, and experience needed to deliver brilliant work for any number of organisations. In fact, at the last estimate, the UK has two million freelancers – so it seems a fair bet that somewhere out there, is a freelancer that fits your organisation’s vacancy.
Oliver Hibbs-Brockway, Founder and CEO of Nodal