Get Ready for the Gig Economy: Employment Predictions for 2015

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JumpTim Arnold, CEO of recruiting software company Fyre, is pretty excited about 2015.

“Things have really been ramping up,” Arnold says. “We’re finally starting to see some real innovation.”

In part, Arnold is referring to recruiting software itself, which he believes has resembled a “digital version of a filing cabinet” for far too long now.

“You’re sticking things in folders and [using] the same old processes,” he says.

Increasing shifts in the balance of power in favor of candidates are forcing recruitment technology to adapt, Arnold says: “We’re seeing a lot of candidate-driven practice. They have lots of options. They’re not sticking with one firm. They’re going to lots of different places. They’re seeking out many opportunities simultaneously. Employers have to react.”

And the best way to react, Arnold says, is to “meet candidates where they are.”

The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Employers Need to Pursue Candidates

Meeting candidates where they are pretty much means flipping the script on recruiting and hiring. Whereas candidates used to fight with one another for coveted jobs, employers are now locked in a war for talent against one another, thanks in part to a recovering economy.

This state of affairs has driven new technological developments like TalenBin’s talent search engine, 360Candidate’s social media-esque candidate screening platform, and Fyre’s own browser plug-in, all of which aim to help actively search for the best talent.

Arnold contrasts the war for talent with the old reactive ways of recruiting: “Traditionally, when you’re recruiting people, you’d say, ‘Hey, what’s your GitHub? Let me look at your code.’ Well, now, we’re seeing people going to GitHub, finding people who are actively engaged in those communities, and saying, ‘Okay, you’re a great C Sharp developer.’ It’s starting from the social presence where [candidates] already are, versus looking on job boards and working backwards.”

Other examples of meeting candidates where they are include embracing mobile recruitment and application processes and realizing that resumes are not the whole picture.

“Not everyone is spending time keeping their resumes up to date,” Arnold says.
“As recruiters need more qualified candidates, they’re starting to search social. They [need to] view the profiles and the social presence of the candidate as a whole, rather than have [candidates] represent themselves as resumes.”

All of this is great news for job seekers, according to Arnold:  “It gives them a lot more control and power in the process. A lot of times, especially in the past couple of years, you [job seekers would] feel like you’re sending resumes out and they’re going into a black hole and you never heard anything back.”

But now, talent is growing more and more scarce, especially in high-demand industries like tech: 64 percent of companies across the globe report trouble finding people with the right technical skills.

“Things are shifting back, so that [job seekers] have more visibility,” Arnold says. “They have more options, rather than just blindly submitting [resumes].”

The Gig Economy Empowers Workers — and Threatens Employers

Arnold predicts that the single most important development in 2015 — “Probably the biggest change to happen to employment ever since the Industrial Revolution,” he says — will be the explosive growth of the gig workforce.

The gig workforce refers to people who work with companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Airtasker, where they perform short-term, one-off tasks like driving customers around, cleaning closets, and fixing broken appliances. Thirty-four percent of U.S. workers already do some sort of freelancing, and the number is expected to rise. Arnold reasons that many of these freelancers will make use of the gig economy because it offers more control than traditional jobs.

“It’s very profitable for these people doing it that are highly ranked,” Arnold says. “You’re really moving around, you’re really doing lots of different things, but within your own control. The power is now in your hands. You’re setting up your own work schedule.”

Arnold also says that traditional employers should be worried about this development. “I took an Uber last night, and the guy was saying that he doesn’t really like his current full-time job. He’s thinking of just taking up Uber full-time,” he says. “When you have options like that, it definitely affects a lot of things.”

Now that employees can jump ship more easily — either moving to other jobs or simply “gigging” for a living — employers will have to change.

“[Your employees] can support themselves in other ways — which they might already be doing, working on weekends as Uber drivers or handmaking things and selling them on Etsy,” Arnold warns employers. “Having those options gives them a lot more flexibility, so you have to make sure your people are happy.”

Otherwise, employers will find their turnover rates are going through the roof — and that’s a costly problem that no one wants to deal with.

By Matthew Kosinski