Talent Circles

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why You Should be Building a Candidate Pipeline of Your Contingent Workforce

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

The job economy is different now than it has been for the past several years. We’ve seen unemployment drop and jobs grow, which has led to a newly competitive and fluid marketplace for job seekers. Workers are freer to go from job to job and expect a great deal from employers looking to woo them. These changes have also brought about a change in the way companies are staffing as they rely more and more on project-based contract workers.

Why a contingent workforce makes sense
These temporary, specialized workers fill knowledge gaps and meet an immediate need. This is a huge consideration as the struggle to find an employee who is a perfect match is one that’s all too familiar and the average time to hire in currently at almost 60 days! For all these reasons, a contingent workforce has become a valuable part of keeping the business going.

Contract workers also offer companies the flexibility to seek out specific skills they need to solve a problem or complete a project. The workers offer experience and expertise that current employees may not possess and limit the time required to onboard, train and get them started on their job responsibilities. Contract workers may also be a great option for companies that have a temporary employee gap to fill, such as when a worker is out on maternity or paternity leave. Overall, the freedom and expertise that comes with utilizing a contingent workforce just makes sense.

Maintaining a contingent workforce
The same things we consider advantages of utilizing a contingent workforce can also be drawbacks. For instance, the freedom goes both ways. You are free to hire and dismiss based on your needs, and a contract worker is free to come and go as their needs dictate. This can create a challenge for hiring managers and business leaders who need to maintain a productive workforce. However, one way to meet this challenge is to develop a candidate pipeline of contingent workers.

Building a pipeline
Building a candidate pipeline of contract workers not only makes it easier to find the types of workers you need down the road, but it also takes away the element of mystery when you and the temporary worker don’t know, or necessarily trust, each other. Another major advantage is that the workers in your pipeline will already know your business. Though there’s usually a much smaller learning curve for a contract worker than a permanent one, there will always be one to some degree. A pipeline of people who know your company eliminates that.

One of the biggest obstacles to creating a pipeline of contract workers is the fact that their short stay in your company makes it hard to develop relationships and engage these subject-matter experts. This challenge is the reason that many companies work with outsourcing, staffing and consulting firms or technology platforms that specialize in these particular areas, such as oDesk.

While these resources can be effective, companies relying solely on these channels to engage, recruit and hire project-based workers are missing a huge opportunity to engage personally. By getting to know your contingent workforce in the same way you would your full-time, permanent team members, you’ll see greater success both now and in the future.

TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.


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