Woman in surroundings of digital technology

By Yu Liu

By 2020, 43% of the workforce is expected to be participating in the gig economy. This workforce shift not only opens a plethora of opportunities for the modern professional, but also means good news for small businesses. The rapidly expanding freelance talent pool gives small business owners and managers access to highly skilled, independent professionals. Leaning into the gig economy to find the right hire can be just what your company needs, whether it’s a skill-specific or time-sensitive opportunity.

1. Embrace the freelance generation

With so many skillsets and professions to choose from, the freelance talent pool has never been stronger. Research by LinkedIn ProFinder and Intuit found that 81% of on-demand workers plan to continue working in the gig economy and 47% are hoping to increase the number of freelance hours they work. This means you as small business owners and hiring managers have options when it comes to selecting skilled workers, be that a freelancer or multiple freelancers, without necessarily having to go the traditional route of filling a full-time role.

Finding top talent by tapping your personal network for referrals or turning to industry-specific job forums means you can more easily find freelance designers, writers, marketers and other project-specific professionals.

2. Be specific

Tapping into the freelance workforce allows you to hire for specific scopes of work in specified timeframes and outsource the projects that are keeping you from your higher priority tasks. In doing this as an owner or manager, you have more flexibility and agility when it comes to budgeting, enabling you to scale up or down more efficiently.

Additionally, rather than having to make the ask of your employees to take on multiple jobs outside their core skillset, often adding stress and long hours to their existing workload, you can explore hiring an independent worker for short-term projects. Not only does this model better serve you, but your employees can remain focused on the work they know and enjoy. This satisfaction is felt by freelancers as well: 67% of independent workers told us they’re highly satisfied or satisfied with their lives in the on-demand marketplace.

3. Assess for success

The ability to trial freelancers for different roles or projects puts small businesses at an advantage. Prior to hiring someone full-time, you can contract freelancers as a tryout, of sorts, before offering them concrete positions. This allows you to assess the chemistry the freelancer has with the rest of the team, their quality of work, and better determine your overall staffing needs.

Freelancers are highly motivated to add new skills and work experience to their repertoires so this project-based model provides a great opportunity for them to expand their expertise and build crucial relationships with new clients. To help freelance hires on-board most successfully, you should set clearly defined milestones with associated deadlines and ensure you’re having an open dialogue as the project progresses.

4. Tap into tech

When it comes to hiring freelancers and finding ways to welcome them in as part of your wider team, consider how technology might add value without making them feel like you’re keeping tabs on their workflow. Implementing team-based communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams for real-time messaging or Google Drive for cloud-based document collaboration means that you can focus on other high-return business activities and separately, your freelancers will still feel connected to the rest of the team. With the right partner on board, utilizing technology to manage your freelancers’ work in a way that meets both parties needs is key.

Summing up

The rapidly growing gig economy is a trend that not only holds vast benefits for the modern worker, but for you, the small business owner, as well. This new talent pool provides a wealth of expert, highly-motivated and flexible workers whom you can look to for specialized projects, trial hires and, overall, cost and time-saving solutions. As more and more small businesses jump on the freelance bandwagon, make sure you too are embracing this hiring strategy successfully.

Yu Liu is the product lead of LinkedIn ProFinder.