Versatility is critical when striving to meet the needs of business in an ever-changing world. One way companies can increase their versatility is by reinforcing their full-time staff with scalable talent – that is, by hiring freelance workers, whose specific abilities compliment those of your permanent workers, and may even fill skill gaps within your team. In this episode, we’ll talk with Greg Kihlström, the Co-Founder and CEO of CareerGig. Here, he explains:
- Understanding the nuances between "Gig Work" and "Freelance Work"
- The growth of freelance over the years
- The benefits of being a freelancer; and
- The benefits of hiring freelancers!
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The History of Freelance Work
- There has certainly been an increase in members of the freelance/gig economy over the past several years:
- In the late 1970s, freelance workers made up 9-10% of the workforce. This number has since grown to about 35% of the United States’ workforce being freelance workers today and is expected to grow as high as 60% by 2030.
- During any instance of an economic disturbance, the number of freelance workers grows.
- The birth of the modern “gig economy” was in 2008/09 when the economy crashed and the recession began.
- Today, some of the more highly skilled roles in the workforce have moved to freelance work.
Defining the “Gig Economy”
- The gig economy consists of freelance workers in various industries, but certain industries have been established within the gig economy or the space of freelance work for longer than others, such as software development and marketing.
- Healthcare is an industry that has recently begun to move toward freelance work as contractors.
- Mr. Kihlström sees the “gig economy” and “freelance economy” as two slightly different things:
- The gig economy is your Uber and Lyft drivers along with people at companies like Instacart.
- The freelance economy includes a workforce that is a little more nuanced and skilled when it comes to the freelance workers who make up the economy.
The Fear Factor of Freelancing
- A major fear factor can be the perceived instability of freelance work along with things like losing company benefits.
- There is a commonly-believed fallacy that a full-time job is stable to begin with.
- As the economy and job market cycles each decade or so, we can see that full-time jobs are only as stable as the market is, which has proven to be quite volatile when crisis events -- such as a global pandemic -- strike.
- The idea of the “pension and a gold watch” can often be a faulty premise in a full-time job because of this volatility.
- When working for one company, you have one source of income. As a freelance worker, you can have multiple sources of income from multiple sources, which can prove to be less risky.
- Companies can also have fear about hiring a freelance worker.
- Full-time employees know all of the inside processes, are familiar with company policies, and are quickly established within the company.
- Hiring a freelance worker can be daunting in the fact that these workers will also need to learn the processes and policies within the company along with developing rapport and a sense of trust with company leaders and managers.
- When business is going well, there is often high demand for freelance workers, thinning out the talent pool quickly, which can also be a source of fear when hiring a freelancer.
Remote Work, COVID-19, and Freelance Workers
- Remote work was inevitable, but the pandemic pushed it forward rapidly and unexpectedly.
- The fact that remote work has emerged so quickly did provide many positives though, especially when it comes to the freelance market.
- With remote work, the talent pool grows with the hiring of freelance workers.
- Diversity in the workplace was also affected positively by the implementation of remote work because freelance workers can be from a wide array of locations and backgrounds.
- When you need an employee to get important work done but do not need a full-time employee, you need a freelance worker who works well with robots and automated processes, and remote work has allowed for these freelancers to become more readily available to companies.
Supporting and Improving Diversity
- When we think about why people get full-time jobs, everyone has varying needs (benefits, work/life balance, etc.).
- When a full-time job is not able to meet the needs of a highly-skilled worker, freelance work is the next best option.
- Non-traditional hours and scheduling can allow people to work when they can even if that does not mean during every moment of normal business hours.
- Even with a non-traditional schedule or pay or whatever the situation may be, these are still highly-skilled employees who will get the work done, often from a unique perspective that may not have occurred from a full-time employee.
- Freelance work allows people to find work that best suits their lifestyle while still accomplishing both personal and company goals by completing fulfilling work.
CareerGig & The Benefits of Freelance Work
- Benefits to the employer
- By hiring freelance, employers are able to hire workers to meet their needs without the responsibility of hiring (and paying for) a full-time employee and provide benefits.
- Freelancers not only allow employers the flexibility to hire for tasks as they are needed.
- Freelance workers also serve as an outside source that can present a unique perspective, providing fresh ideas to the company and the project.
- CareerGig, in particular, allows employers to more easily find and vet potential freelance and contract workers.
- As opposed to a star rating or some other rating system, CareerGig provides employers with tangible statistics on freelancers that allows employers to see the full picture when hiring from CareerGig.
- Benefits to the freelance worker
- Work flexibility and the security that comes from getting paychecks from multiple sources.
- CareerGig is unique in its industry, in that it offers guaranteed issue health, life, and disability benefits, along with other types of insurance.
- CareerGig also does not charge subscription fees, they make money off of transaction fees. This means when you are hired, CareerGig takes a cut of those fees and CareerGig actually takes a portion of those fees and contributes that directly into your insurance as a freelance worker. This is the closest thing to true employer benefits as a freelance worker.
The Process of Hiring Freelance Workers
- Hiring a freelancer can be similar to the hiring process of a full-time employee, but there are some distinct key differences:
- Oftentimes, the employer does not have six or more months to onboard a freelance worker, so that can affect how the hiring process develops.
- Some freelancers focus on shorter term opportunities and some focus on longer term opportunities, and that can affect the hiring process for an employer.
- When hiring a freelance worker, companies have to know that the person they are hiring is capable of doing what is needed.
- One way that CareerGig helps to ensure this for employers is allowing companies to design their own tests for freelance workers to see if that worker is qualified and/or could fit in well for that project.
- There will always be the personalities and the relationship building that are key in any relationship between employer and employee, but the quantifiable metrics that allow both employers and employees to find the right fit are equally as important.
Technology’s Impact on Freelance Work
- Technology has come to the forefront of workforce tools with the introduction of widespread remote work.
- Technology is a huge factor in the success of freelance workers.
- Although technology is so vital, there are many instances in which 1099 compliance issues come into play for events such as virtual “happy hour” etc.
- Freelance workers need to have enough access to company technology to where they feel like part of the team.
- In a highly competitive freelance work market, contractors want to feel like they are truly part of the team, not just an outside helper.
- Including freelancers in meetings and discussions as appropriate goes a long way to making contract workers feel essential and wanted.
- This means that allowing freelance workers to access as much internal technology as possible is ideal, without allowing too much or too little access.
- Onboarding and orientation videos and programs are also great tools to help newly hired freelance workers to get indoctrinated to their new workplace.
How is Hiring From CareerGig Different?
- The way that CareerGig works as a freelance workforce marketplace differs greatly from competitors in a few different ways.
- CareerGig places emphasis on creating the most accurate account of work history and resume so that the best people are recommended for certain positions and to certain companies while at the same time the best job opportunities are offered to the best candidates.
- Finding the most accurate information and verifying that information is paramount.
- There are three steps:
- A candidate claims to be proficient in an area.
- Other people will back up that skill for that freelancer.
- Getting the confirmation that the level of skill is true by utilizing tests and/or background checks with previous employers.
- There are three steps:
- Once people earn these verifications of their skills, freelance workers become “pre-certified” for specific skills that can be requirements for positions.
- All of these tools CareerGig puts into practice create what Mr. Kihlström calls the “on-demand workforce.”
Greg Kihlström Backstory
- B.S. in Digital Media and Photography from Andrews University
- Mr. Kihlström has previously worked for companies such as Multicity (as the Director of Product Development), Carousel30 (as the Founder & CEO), and Cravety (as Chief Experience Officer).
- Today, he is the Co-Founder & CEO of CareerGig.
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