I just finished reading an article in Forbes online by WorkMarket co-founder Jeff Wald titled "Forget the Jobs Report, Focus on the Freelance Economy". His report sites recent estimates from the Freelancers Union of a growing trend toward independent American workers with numbers increasing by more than 30 million from 2005. He has a valid point that the jobs report may not be telling the whole story about the current employment market.
Further research on the subject continued to intrigue me. Global results are significantly higher as well. Elance, a leading employment site for freelance opportunities, reported Q1 2013 results to be up 60% from Q1 of 2012. Their site also boasts over 300,000 freelance posts in Q1 of 2013. This number is pretty significant even measured on a global scope.
I can't help but believe this will at some point make a significant impact on the recruiting and staffing industry. Will finding freelance workers to support virtual teams be orchestrated by recruitment professionals, or by in-house sourcing efforts? Whether it means a stronger concentration of contract placements vs. direct hire or a decline in recruitment all together also remains to be seen.
Geographical reach will surely contribute to this changing landscape. After all, the ability to work virtually is certainly what is facilitating this phenomenon. An employer now has the ability to hire global talent to work in a virtual environment, while eliminating many of the visa and immigration challenges they've faced in the past for highly skilled professionals.
Healthcare changes may also impact the amount of freelance employees an organization employs. Healthcare has always been a driving factor in the decision to freelance for me. When US healthcare reform is fully initiated, those not working in a traditional circumstance will have many more options for affordable healthcare. If a small business can not provide healthcare benefits, will this influence their desire to contract freelancer positions with staffing companies? My guess is yes. Will this ultimately determine the number of direct hire placements by a recruitment professional for positions formerly working in a corporate environment? It is possible.
Regardless of the answer to the questions above, there will always be a necessity for good recruiters in my opinion. This is because, let's face it, finding exceptional talent is a tough job. The market may very well change, but whether the positions are freelance or direct-hire, there will always be a percentage of both placements that require on-going relationship building to identify the best talent. Maintaining those relationships is difficult to accomplish for in-house human resource personnel because of the other responsibilities that encompass those roles.
Have you noticed the impact on your recruiting business you would attribute to an increase in freelance hiring? How do you think the increase in freelance staffing will change the industry?Amy McDonald is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360°