Gig-economy workers need to ‘disrupt’ the hiring processes

By Juliet Eccleston
Business Correspondent

Management entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of talent platform AnyGood?.

By Christina McLean
News Correspondent

The gig economy is gaining momentum and there’s no sign of it slowing down. The appeal is understandable: it’s flexible, varied and a great way to work with a number of organisations on a range of projects.

However, contractors do face the pressure of needing to generate a steady stream of incoming work and many are finding that traditional methods, such as using recruitment consultants and job boards, just don’t deliver.

The simple fact is, people no longer trust recruiters to deal with them in an honest, transparent way or put their needs before making a profit. Having freelanced extensively myself, I know only too well the frustration that comes with agencies failing to grasp your needs, putting you forward for unsuitable roles and then taking a significant cut of your income for doing very little in return.

I’ve even heard of some agencies inventing jobs just to get contractors to sign up. When you’re reliant on someone who doesn’t know you well enough to represent you to potential employers, you can’t be sure that the process is fair and transparent – they could wrongly assume you ‘aren’t the right fit’ due to their own personal views.

Many contractors prefer to use job boards instead, but these only work if you are searching in the right place at the right time, meaning that unless you are devoted to time-consuming regular searches, you could easily miss out.

It’s clear that these methods don’t work for contractors but for things to change, gig workers must actively disrupt the norm. A different approach is needed – one which uses a valuable tool that they already have at their disposal – their contacts.

The very nature of contracting and working for a number of employers and within various teams means that freelance professionals are especially well connected. When I contracted, the best way for me to find jobs was through my network: either by asking people if they knew of suitable opportunities or as a result of people I’d worked with recommending me for roles.

In our digital age and with social media at our disposal, it’s incredibly effective, quick and easy to find work this way. Getting rid of the intermediary, such as the recruiter or job board, means that gig workers are put directly in contact with a collaborative network of people who can answer their question: “Do you know anyone who…?”

We’ve already seen other sectors get rid of the middle man with great results: Airbnb and Purplebricks have done so with travel and estate agents. The recruitment industry is absolutely ripe for a similar disruption.

Gig economy workers can drive this: with their fantastic contacts, they are in a prime position to use their extensive networks as a trustworthy, reliable search function. The result will be a fairer and more equal way of finding jobs based on merit, not a third-party recruiter’s perception of your character, skills and abilities.