Why the Growth of the Gig Economy is Recruiting’s Best Challenge

ThinkstockPhotos-528498935Talent acquisition leaders in the gig economy have created massive recruiting success through the use of data and analytics. They’ve strung together the best practices of recruiting and marketing — supporting the development of ‘peer-to-peer economics’ and helping grow an industry representative of an estimated (yet arguable), 29% of the US workforce. These gig recruiters are leading the way and, in my opinion, are blazing miles ahead of corporate recruiters outside their field.

The key differentiator: They aren’t reacting to a current hiring need, but rather are proactively planning — using data to foresee future hiring landscapes. They run models and A/B tests, advertise strategically, personalize their content, test location expansion and execute on their job advertising purposefully to reach both active and passive candidates. What they’ve created is a well-oiled recruiting machine. It is lead generation at its finest. And in an industry where there is a direct correlation between hiring and revenue, these recruiters have used marketing as the No. 1 process to keep their pipeline filled.

We all know that in the shared economy, without a worker to fulfill a gig there is no revenue, forcing talent acquisition departments to become profit centers, putting individual recruiters in the hot seat. It has been no picnic for these recruiters to figure out how to convert this type of talent because filling these requisitions comes with two unique challenges:

  1. ‘Churn’ is really high. People tend to work in gig jobs sporadically and employees need to be frequently replaced. In some markets where the cost of living is considered, like San Francisco, this is even more challenging as gig jobs may only provide supplemental income and be held on a temp basis.
  2. Varying high volume hiring needs. New business happens on-demand and comes in troves, requiring recruiters to actively predict and hire for future needs. Maintaining a steady pipeline of talent is a consistent challenge.

To overcome these hurdles, this is what I’ve seen gig recruiters doing better than anyone else:

  1. Aligning recruiting strategies with those of marketers. Leading gig organizations, like Uber, Lyft and Postmates, have hired people in their HR departments for positions such as “senior online marketing manager” and “online marketing specialist.” A/B testing job titles, tweaking job descriptions, beautifying career sites and optimizing recruitment media buys are primary functions of their job. Like a marketer, they make decisions based on analyzing data that tells them what’s working and what isn’t when attracting quality talent into their funnel.
  2. Perfecting their employer brand. Job seekers looking to work in the gig economy are primarily interested in autonomy and better work-life balance. Gig organization career sites clearly reflect these benefits, plus many more.
  3. Making it dead simple to apply. If you look at the lead generation pages of Handy and DoorDash, applying for a job, or even just submitting interest, is easy — especially on a mobile device. These companies have recognized that applications that take less than five minutes to complete see conversion rates spike by up to 250%.
  4. Using programmatic advertising software to automate, optimize and increase applicant flow. With programmatic technology, job ads are placed across the web on the right sites, in front of the right candidates and at the right time without manual intervention. It automatically stops sponsoring ads once you have enough applies so you don’t overspend. That excess budget can then be redirected to jobs that actually need more applicants.

PREMIUM CONTENT: The Gig Economy: Market Estimates and Features of the US Contingent Workforce

Growth in this industry isn’t slowing anytime soon: 56% of workers in the space are now using ‘gigs’ as full-time jobs. In a recent FastCompany editorial, Faisal Hoque states, “Not only do people simply want work, they now want more control over how they work.” The gig economy is continuing to make this possible for people at light speed rates. Uber is consistently adding about 10,000 new drivers each month and TaskRabbit, one of the gig economy’s first entrants, quadrupled its revenue year-over-year in 2015 and will reach profitability this year.

I believe gig recruiters will continue to pave the way, but the good news is that adopting their ‘marketing-like’ approach is doable in any industry. Every day headlines blast a new story declaring ways that Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and other leaders in the industry are innovating, creating and excelling like never before. And everyone pays attention because it is a remarkable feat that these companies have truly embodied what it means to be part of the recruitment marketing ‘revolution,’ in such a short amount of time.

Talent acquisition leaders hiring across the board should take note, because by following this lead that the gig economy has created, recruiters in any other industry could set themselves up for ‘uber’ success.

MORE: How the On-demand Economy Is Transforming the Staffing Industry

Trevor McGraw
Trevor McGraw is a gig economy specialist at Appcast.

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