6 ways to prepare your agency for gig candidates

Jeremy Market Trends, Staffing, Tips & Tricks

Some have described the new "gig economy" as the biggest major job market shift since the industrial revolution. This may seem like hyperbole, but modern technology and communication platforms have drastically altered many elements of our culture and employment is certainly one of them, from ride sharing to grocery delivery.

Contingent employment such as contract work, freelance positions and Silicon Valley-style gigs grow in popularity everyday. A Freelancer's Union Research Report found that 54 million Americans performed freelance work between 2014 and 2015. This is 700,000 more than the survey found the previous year. In 2016, even more companies offer gig positions and other contingent forms of employment.

As more workers look for gigs over traditional positions, staffing agencies may find they need to adapt their existing best practices. Here are six ways to prepare staffing software and daily operations for the the new workforce:

1. Prepare for excited candidates
The first thing agencies have to do is embrace the gig economy, because candidates certainly have. The Freelancer's Union survey found 60 percent of freelance workers accept contingent employment by choice. This was a 7 percent increase over 2014. Many candidates actively seek out gig positions for the freedom they allow.

This means staffing agencies need to recognize the gig economy as an opportunity rather than a burden. Organizations can demonstrate acceptance of the new employment market by implementing modern software and applicant tracking systems that work with mobile devices, social media and online job boards – all the platforms that make the gig economy possible.

More candidates search for and perform jobs on a variety of devices. More candidates search for and perform jobs on a variety of devices.

2. Get ready to educate
While there are plenty of candidates excited about this new way of obtaining employment, there will also be audiences who are completely unaware of the details and opportunities of the gig economy. CNBC shared Pew Research that discovered 89 percent of Americans were unfamiliar with the term gig economy. Most people are aware of contingent employment, but not everyone fully understands the form it takes in the modern world.

Staffing agencies that can clearly define employment terms also help ensure enthusiasm doesn't lead to exploitation. Even when candidates recognize gig opportunities, they may not be aware of the possible drawbacks. The right agency can help candidates find jobs that offer freedom without taking advantage of freelance contracts.

3. Identify key industries
One of the pioneers of the gig economy is Uber. It's true there were "gigs" before ride sharing, but having drivers use mobile technology to pick up riders who booked reservations through their own smartphones showed how modern technology could radically alter an industry. The Wall Street Journal said fields that once offered full-time positions almost exclusively, like healthcare, manufacturing and education, are increasing their contingent offers.

Staffing agencies must recognize which industries offer gig employment or similar positions and where change may occur in the future. Flexible staffing software can help agencies prepare for shifts and keep records consistent in changing markets. Also, mobile recruiting tools allow agencies to identify which candidates are ready and capable of holding gig positions.

4. Communicate the benefits
The Freelancers Union found many employees believed technology makes it easier to take on contingent positions and find employers willing to offer freedom. The obstacles that did exist can be overcome by staffing agencies that help them narrow down prospects, define terms and work with schedules.

Instead of just marketing the benefits of the gig economy, staffing agencies can demonstrate the advantages by showing the convenience of mobile communication and rapid data exchange. Candidates hesitant to take a freelance gig should see they won't be left on their own through constant communication, while data shared with prospective workers should be accurate and easy to understand.

"Staffing software needs to collect data on specific skills."

5. Create a better talent profile
Employers can also benefit from the gig economy by creating leaner work forces. CIO said many businesses capitalize on modern opportunities by scouring online resources for the exact skills they need. Freelance positions mean companies can't look over shoulders or hold employee hands, so they need talented and responsible candidates.

Staffing software needs to collect data on specific skills. Talent profile forms can create dependable records using consistent terms defined by employers. Empty fields and automated workflows mean staffing agents know exactly what to look for and flexible systems allow the information to be easily shared.

6. Research the future
Many workers' rights organizations and federal regulators try to respond to modern shifts in the job market, but they are forced to play catch-up with rapidly evolving technology, according to Paychex Worx. Uber, for example, has different employment rules for separate cities and states.

A staffing agency software system must track the unique rules of each region and types of employment to ensure agents have the information candidates need. As regulations change, a flexible system should show alterations across the board quickly and completely. The gig economy is still fairly new, but as it becomes more commonplace, agencies can be the bedrock modern employment is built on.