What’s growing 5X faster than the overall workforce? If you said the percentage of independent workers in the U.S. labor market, you’re spot on. New research by MBO Partners shows that in the last five years, the number of independent workers in the U.S. has risen to 30.2 million. By 2020, the firm expects the number of full- and part-time “independents” to grow to 30% of the private, non-farm workforce in the U.S. It’s clear more people are choosing this path, but not everybody is happy with the arrangement. What happens when you get a candidate who’s been self-employed for the last five years?
Does Independent = Great Hire or Red Flag?
You’ve uncovered a candidate with the skills and capabilities you need, but they’ve answered to themselves for a really long time. Surely the transition from independent to employee will require some mental shifting, so hiring this individual may be risky. On the other hand, maybe they’ll be your best hire ever. After all, they have to be somewhat bright, self-motivated and service-oriented to successfully earn a living on their own. The following questions may help add insight into your hiring decision:
- Why do they want to move from independent to employee? It’s key to understand a candidates’ motivation. Is it for security? Benefits? Perhaps they want to work in a more social environment, or to develop skills and experience in new areas. Keep in mind that when working alone, independents typically have less chance for on-the-job learning and mentoring unless they purposely seek it out. Your candidate may see interesting opportunities in things you take for granted about working for your organization.
- Will they be able to collaborate effectively? Don’t assume they can’t. In MBO Partners’ research, independent workers reported spending $101 billion last year hiring other independent workers on a contract basis. Independents’ hiring of other independents is part of a broader collaboration trend in the new economy. Many independents enjoy working as part of a virtual team, and have the collaboration skills to do it well. In your interview, listen for examples of successful projects, and how the candidate talks about being part of a team.
- Is this candidate under 30? In 2015, 30% of full-time independent workers were millennials. This makes sense; it’s well-known that this generation wants more control over their schedule, and is likely to choose flexibility over pay. The question for you is: Does your role and organizational culture meet their needs for flexibility and working independently within a larger workforce? If there is room for negotiation, you may be able to meet in the middle on these.
Use Video Interviewing to Boost Your Confidence
In any hiring scenario – former independent worker or not video interviewing offers the edge you need to feel more confident in your recommendations. In this particular scenario, the technology holds at least three advantages:
- Talk face-to-face sooner: You can easily get into a live video interview with your candidate the same or next day after first contact. That face-to-face dialog helps you rule them in or out right away, so you don’t spend time and energy on a candidate who is clearly not right-fit. If your candidate shows promise, you can keep the hiring process moving swiftly and your job opportunity top of mind.
- Follow up with ease: A former independent may be harder to read in your first interview. With video interviewing technology, it’s easier to have a follow up conversation without inconveniencing your candidate. And, you can ask the hiring manager, potential team members, or other TA colleagues to join in a live panel interview to get their input. They can join using their smart phone, tablet or right from their desktop PC.
- Create a great impression: Even if you don’t hire this independent, you’d still like to create a great impression. A purpose-built video interviewing platform provides a branded, positive experience for candidates.
If your independent candidate turns out to be a great hire for your organization, perhaps you’d like to find more people like them. You can leverage the idea by socializing your postings via video interviewing technology. Use LinkedIn to invite a group of independents into your on-demand video interview with a single click, and you just may have found a talent pool with new potential for 2016.