How to Attract Top Freelancers

November 8, 2023 Summer Foote

Today’s independents have plenty of choice when it comes to selecting their work. In fact, in competitive, cutting-edge fields like innovation, data science, and supply chain strategy, competition for top independent talent is as fierce as it is for full-time hires. Meanwhile, top professionals are increasingly choosing to work independently—further restricting the full-time labor pool. The companies that win are the ones that are willing to court independents, treating them as partners, not vendors. What else can you do to attract top talent?

Define the mission

Exciting challenges are always going to be more attractive. Identify an interesting, well-defined opportunity and be specific about what you need and how a contractor’s skills would fit in.

One of the main reasons that domain experts go independent is to give themselves the freedom to choose which projects they work on. So when you scope and define your project, try to make it as compelling as possible. Independent talent are entrepreneurs in their own right, and the projects they accept are the ones that define their brand. They want work that’s exciting and important; it’s your job to show them why your initiative fits that bill. And make sure you can connect the work you need done with a broader mission that’s important to the business.

Support flexible work arrangements

As we’ve seen over the past several years, work-from-anywhere works, and most companies are finding that a balance of on-site and remote work offers the best of both worlds.

One of the greatest advantages of employing independent talent is that you’re not limited by geography. When it comes to specialized skills in particular, the closest candidates for the job might not be the best fits you can find.

Some independent workers appreciate the opportunity to work closely, in-person, with your team. Others might reside in a completely different time zone but are equally—if not more—effective working remotely. By requiring an on-site presence, you limit both the number of qualified candidates and the appeal of your organization in a highly competitive labor market.

Keep in mind that 57% of independent talent chose this path because they wanted the freedom to work more flexible hours. Rather than letting outdated norms guide expectations, demonstrate trust by asking your independents what arrangement they feel is most effective.

Broaden your search

Focus on what you want to accomplish more than whom you’re looking to hire. Creative thinking can be a powerful advantage in a tight labor market.

Expanding your horizons can help attract the best talent. Independent professionals come from all types of backgrounds, and their experience might put them at a level that’s more senior than the qualifications you were originally seeking for the project. Though they might not match your traditional target profile, on-demand talent providers are skilled in ensuring they match your goals.

The hands-on nature of independent talent ensures they’ll be ready to roll up their sleeves, regardless of where they work or which firms populate their CVs. In times like these, it’s to your benefit to consider non-traditional candidates and trust your talent provider to find the right fit.

Communicate early, openly, and often

To find the perfect fit, you have to align expectations with your talent provider at the outset of your search. Ongoing communication ensures ongoing alignment.

Prioritizing project oversight must start before scoping has even begun. From the beginning of the search through the end of the project, success depends on honest, clear communication. This ensures everyone’s expectations remain aligned and allows an on-demand talent provider such as BTG to find right-fit talent and swiftly resolve any issues along the way. Should your scope change, a strong communication and oversight framework will help smooth the way for strategic shifts, too.

Cultivate an open culture

Maintain a collaborative environment where new perspectives are valued, not feared or dismissed out of hand.

An outside perspective is often exactly what’s needed to free people from unproductive or insular views. Internally, dissent can be intimidating, and the pressure to conform often keeps companies from exploring alternative paths.

Independents aren’t burdened by that baggage or invested in preconceived ideas about what works and what doesn’t at your company. This enables them to introduce valuable new ideas and new strategies for implementation. Because their domain expertise is broader than a single company, they’re often able to see the big picture—and hidden opportunities—more easily than those who are already part of it. It also opens the door for internal teams to share their own opinions freely. When it comes to pitching new ideas or challenging entrenched mindsets, people are often more comfortable doing so with a third party than with their immediate supervisor.

Of course, change can be uncomfortable—especially when it’s suggested by someone who doesn’t have to live with the consequences. That’s why it’s critical to make sure that everyone, from the highest to the lowest levels of your company, is open to new ideas. The best independent talent thrive in dynamic, fast-paced environments. Dismissing their ideas not only diminishes the impact they can have on your business, but discourages them from wanting to work for you in the future.

Treat independents with respect

Show your contractors that you value their contributions by treating them with the same respect you extend to your full-time employees.

Independent talent are business owners in their own right, and as such, you should think of them as partners, rather than as employees. And while they likely aren’t your company’s biggest partner, they’re smart and talented and have much to offer—that’s why you engaged them. Prompt payment is one way to demonstrate your respect and appreciation.

Looking for more tips? Get our Guide to Working with On-Demand Talent

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