Six mistakes companies make when hiring independent talent

16 April 2024 4 min. read
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The on-demand talent economy has become a vital component in today’s business landscape, especially for startups and SMEs grappling with skill gaps, productivity scaling, and evolving employee expectations.

According to a report from freelance talent marketplace Outsized, the number of clients seeking to hire freelancers has growth strongly over the past year. Companies hire freelancers for a number of reasons, including flexibility, cost-efficiency, quick access to expert skills.

While this approach offers promising opportunities, there are common pitfalls that companies must avoid to effectively harness the power of on-demand talent. Vikram Malhotra from Outsized shares six pitfalls:

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Failing to identify needs

The on-demand talent pool offers a variety of specialized skills, but misjudging the type of talent needed can lead to inefficiencies and wasted resources. Organizations, especially those with limited resources, should evaluate whether leveraging professional freelancers aligns with their specific needs and objectives.

To determine if they need freelancers, companies should evaluate whether the skill gap is temporary, assess the availability of full-time resources in specific niches, consider their ability to attract permanent talent, and gauge the urgency of the hire.

Inadequate role scoping

Once the need for on-demand talent is established, companies often make the mistake of not scoping roles effectively. Poorly defined roles can lead to mismatched talent and project goals, resulting in subpar outcomes. Defining the required skillset in detail, including specific technical skills, soft skills, and industry experience, helps identify the right fit.

Clear key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established by defining project objectives, performance metrics, and timelines to measure freelancer effectiveness. Moreover, considering preferences such as duration, capacity, and location might help avoid contract issues and streamline choices.

Poor integration into existing teams

Establishing efficient onboarding processes for professional freelancers is imperative for fostering successful collaboration. It’s not uncommon for freelancers to join a team without a complete understanding of the deliverables, timelines, and cultural integration. To mitigate this, briefing relevant team members and arranging early one-to-one meetings is essential. This approach ensures independent professionals feel as valued as permanent ones.

A well-planned onboarding process goes beyond administrative formalities; it acts as a strategic tool to minimize downtime, maximize engagement, and expedite peak productivity.

Neglecting feedback and communication

A culture of effective communication is essential for successful engagements with freelancers, yet many companies neglect this aspect, resulting in ineffective collaborations. Freelancers are eager to demonstrate their value with clear KPIs from the outset and ongoing assessments of progress. Regular meetings with managers offer opportunities for growth and improvement.

Establishing this ensures the freelancer’s work aligns with company objectives. Initial catchups may need to be more frequent to maximize integration and capitalize early on the experiences that freelancers bring from their previous projects.

Overlooking knowledge transfer

Startups and SMEs often overlook the significance of knowledge transfer when collaborating with professional freelancers. These independent professionals often bring specialized skills; therefore, it is essential for the in-house team to absorb this knowledge for long-term benefits and to carry forward the work seamlessly.

For example, if a freelancer contributes to a client strategy, it’s vital to prepare the team to execute and communicate it effectively to prevent over-reliance on external expertise and ensure long-term sustainability.

Not developing an attractive freelancer value proposition

In the competitive on-demand talent economy, a compelling attractive freelancer value (FVP) is vital for attracting top talent. To create a strong FVP, organizations should shift from sporadic to consistent engagement, provide a supportive work environment, offer fair compensation, cultivate long-term loyalty through retention strategies, and extend their work culture to freelancers.

This will not only enhance freelancer appeal, but also strengthen partnerships, contributing to higher engagement and output quality.