Even as employment figures reach unprecedented levels in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the average company’s workforce today comprises contingent labor. This is more than a trend. Independent talent have a solid foothold in today’s labor market. More significantly, independents are working in increasingly strategic roles. They impact a company’s productivity, goal achievement, and bottom line.
Competition for independent talent can be fierce, particularly for in-demand and specialized skills. Attracting high-value independent talent is key to future-proofing your enterprise.
What Does “High-Value” Mean?
To define “high value” in the context of the business, you must understand:
- Your critical skills needs
- The places in your organization that are best suited to independent professionals
- Preferred personality characteristics.
For example, you know that you have a pressing need for people with expertise in artificial intelligence. Key business functions like IT, marketing, and human resources need these skills. And you need independent professionals who are team players, good problem solvers, and excellent communicators. The talent that meet your requirements are “high value” for your company.
Let’s walk through each of these three definition elements.
Critical Skill Needs
Even if you are not in the process of building a direct sourcing program, conducting a skills assessment is the basis for determining critical needs. It’s essentially a three-step process:
- Make an inventory of all skills hired as full-time or contingent labor
- Look at current budgeting and where skills will be needed in the next 30-60-90 + days
- Gauge the priority of skill needs based on the business importance of the skills and how frequently they are hired
The results of this assessment will give you a prioritized list of skill needs and insight into how you have been filling them (if you’ve been able to fill them).
Best Places for Independent Talent
Based on the assessment, you can decide which high-priority skills should reside in your employee population, your independent talent pool, or both. Frequency of hire is one criterion. Where those hires take place is another. Extending the previous example, your IT department may need that AI expert full-time while marketing’s needs are on a project-by-project basis. In the former case, hiring an employee may be the right move. In the latter case, engaging an independent professional (with experience working on marketing projects) may produce the best results.
Putting Soft Skills in the Mix
Finding independent professionals with the right technical skills is a good first step. However, if a qualified contractor is challenging to work with or lacks good communication abilities, they may not be the best fit for your organization. During your selection process, focus on interviewing for soft skills to understand how well a candidate’s personality fits into your culture and work processes.
If you need assistance defining what “high-value independent talent” means for your organization, MBO Partners can help. Contact us to get started.