As we move into a “new age” of working, many companies are looking to diversify their workforce and focus on flexible, niche solutions such as contract and freelance talent for many reasons. Budget, location and remote working all play a part in picking the right freelancer for a project, and having a resource pool that you can dip in and out of is a luxury that a lot of businesses need to invest into.
Covid-19 put freelance talent in the spotlight, and many saw the benefits not just due to the technical skills that contractors have, but also the soft skills that they can bring: dealing with ambiguity, managing multiple tasks at once and being available immediately.
The two main industries that hire the most freelance talent globally is the Technology industry as well as Life Sciences, and we had the opportunity to interview two seasoned contract recruiters who wanted to discuss the benefits of a flexible resource pool as well as how they see the world of recruitment shifting and changing in the future.
Overall, the UK has an evolved contract market
With over 6 years’ experience in senior level interim hires within Life Sciences, Nick has had the opportunity to recruit globally for multiple businesses. Over his time as a recruiter he’s noticed that the general attitude toward freelancers is a country to country issue, rather than a shared feeling. Some see the value, whereas others are still evolving their freelance talent entirely.
Many organisations within Life Sciences have concerns over whether contractors are invested in the vision and long term goals of the business, and although this is a natural assumption to make – Nick explained that if you feel that a candidate has that attitude then they simply aren’t the right person for the job. Today, especially since Covid-19, a lot of businesses are seeing freelancers as a need, rather than a necessary evil.
It can be difficult to know a candidates’ true motivations for a project, which is why partnering with a specialist recruiter in this area can help you with the decision making process, as well as taking an objective view on whether the candidate will add value to your organisation.
Like most industries, Life Sciences and the Biotechnology scene can be quite incestuous, so take the opportunity to take a reference. Reach out to a previous employer and gauge the overall attitude that they have towards the person you’re looking to hire. This is a process that takes longer without the help of a recruiter, but still adds a lot of value to your hiring process.
Having a flexible resource pool will always add value to your recruitment process
With over 5 years’ experience recruiting within varying technology markets, Reece highlighted that working with clients to have a specific pool of candidates available will always add value to the service you provide. For him, it’s the power of having relationships that he knows he can call on when there’s a client in need, and it’s also communicating that he has these abilities to his clients very early on in the relationship. With hiring managers wanting people to start the role yesterday, it’s vital to create pools of candidates that you’re regularly in touch with so you can service your client base efficiently.
Nick explained that particularly in the biotech market, due to its fast paced nature, the value of having a resource pool available also means that the client can have a competent, skilled individual on site immediately who can deal with the pace and agility that they need for a specific project.
Both Reece and Nick said that although working in varying markets, the best contract recruiters will ensure that the resource pool that they create is pre-screened, and a mixture of passive and active candidates who they believe are the best cultural and technical fit for the role. A resource pool shouldn’t be 50+ candidates, it should be the best 3-4 candidates for the project.
There will be times where a contractor won’t work
There are many assumptions in the world of recruitment that if you can’t find a permanent hire, you should just find a contractor instead. Many recruiters and internal teams fall into the trap of hiring contract resources which can end up doing more damage than good.
Within technology, Reece highlighted that although contract resources are a great way to ‘try before you buy’, businesses need to be mindful of their expenditure and forecast that they will be able to afford the contractor in six months’ time. He also explained that for some roles, there is the ability to ‘convert’ contractors into permanent hires, but businesses cannot completely bank on this method – and will need to accept the expense of a contractor instead.
Nick said that for Life Sciences, particularly if the contractor is going to be a manager – you shouldn’t look to hire a contractor for 1-2 month stints, as it can inflict damage from a management point of view as well as integrating the contractor with the project. 3 months is the shortest time you should look to onboard contract talent, as that gives them enough time to create enough of an impact or pave the way and set processes in place for a permanent hire to take over.
Recruiters should partner with innovative technology, and one should not be able to exist without the other
Both Reece and Nick agreed that AI and other technologies have added a lot of value in the sense that they can service clients more efficiently, but they are strong believers that technology should be able to coexist with recruiters rather than replace the process completely. You need to have the empathy and emotional capacity of a physical person rather than a robot screening for soft skills, or an algorithm.
Reece highlighted that he does believe particularly within the Tech markets that some hiring managers would be in favour of a complete AI driven process, which is natural due to the sector that they work in, however he’d be surprised if it was as effective as a human and replaced them completely.
As a tech platform that looks to act as a mediator between internal and external recruiters, we agree that completely trying to replace a physical recruiter could end up causing more harm than good, but finding ways to automate and speed up a process can only improve the experience for all parties involved – particularly a candidates’.
What do you think about flexible resource pools? What are your thoughts on technology replacing recruiters? Leave a comment below.