Why Attracting Independent Talent is Different Than Recruiting Employees

   |   MBO Partners   |   April 19, 2019


The independent workforce represents a very different pool of talent than traditional employees. In order to successfully attract, retain, and re-engage independent contractors, it is important for companies to build a recruiting strategy that is specifically designed to meet the needs of this talent.

What Makes Independent Contractors Different?

First, it is important to understand that ‘independent contractor’ is a legal term for workers who are not considered full-time employees under the law. The general rule of thumb is that workers are considered to be independent contractors if a client only has control over the results of the work that is done, not how or when it will be done. Independent contractors operate as their own business entity, often working as sole proprietors or through an incorporated business.

Independents are experts in their industry, and bring their skills to a project or task a client engages them to complete. Independent talent come from and work in virtually every sector of the economy from IT, marketing, and healthcare to education and creative services.

While traditional employees typically receive some sort of training for their job and have some level of oversight from a manager, independents already have the expertise needed to complete the job, and are solely responsible for performing the services outlined in a contract or Scope of Work (SOW).

What Do Independent Talent Look for In a Client Relationship?

Independent professionals are a unique segment of the independent workforce who choose to pursue self-employment not only for the lifestyle and professional benefits it offers, but also because it allows them to apply their expertise to long-term, high-billing projects. Compared to other types of independent workers, this group tends to be slightly older, better educated, and have higher income levels. This is the group of independent talent that most organizations want to engage to meet their needs.

Because independent professionals provide many important benefits (staffing flexibility, access to in-demand skills, and cost savings opportunities to name a few), they tend to have a lot of choice when it comes to picking their clients—82% say they have some or a lot of choice in picking the clients they work with.

Top drivers of client satisfaction include: being treated as part of the team, feeling that their work is valued, a positive work environment, opportunities to learn and build new skills, quick and fair compensation, and reasonable processes and procedures.

How Can Managers Successfully Recruit Independent Talent?

In order to successfully recruit independent talent, managers must consider the best way to create an experience separate from that of traditional employee recruitment. In general, it is important to prioritize setting up procedures that guarantee smooth onboarding, feedback, and communication.

Many managers today use freelance marketplaces, online platforms that connect independent contractors with projects. A marketplace can help enable the transaction between contractor and client directly online. Typically, after filing out a profile, independent talent can search for or be matched with opportunities that fit their skill set. On the other side, managers can evaluate and select the right person for the job.

If managers are simply posting project opportunities on a company website, be sure to call out a separation between independent contractor and full-time employee jobs. Once they are engaged, independents value a smooth onboarding process. Creating a welcome site that provides education regarding what to expect during the vetting and engagement process can help to satisfy these needs.

Overall, it is important to keep the needs and desires of independent professionals in mind when creating a recruitment plan. By creating polices that are specifically designed to meet these preferences, managers can attract and engage the best and brightest independent talent.

For more information about how to attract top independent talent to your organization, contact us today or check out or 2019 Client of Choice research.

MBO Partners