Rewriting Recruitment: Side hustle, gig muscle and the tussle for talent


The recruitment model needs to be disrupted and reimagined if it wants to keep up with a radically evolving talent landscape

The projected gross volume of the gig economy is anticipated to exceed $455 billion in 2023. This economy, powered by roving talent that has the freedom to pick roles, responsibilities and companies, has gained significant ground over the past three years. The pandemic kickstarted it, but technology has empowered it. Platforms designed to connect gig workers with opportunities are thriving, introducing companies to accessible, elastic staff that are less risk, more engaged and a lot faster. It is, says Lindsay Cowan, CEO of One Degree, a disruption much needed within the recruitment space.

“Every business will qualify that people are their most valuable asset and yet the model they use to recruit, attract and retain talent hasn’t changed in decades,” he explains. “The channels used to capture the attention of talent are tired and bottlenecked, inhibiting the growth of both the organisation and its people. This is another reason why the gig economy has seen such a radical explosion – people are tired of being caught in overly-complex loops of recruitment paperwork and process.”

Traditional methods of recruitment and employment aren’t that feasible anymore. The Dolly Parton 9-5 has been replaced with flexibility and recognises that people can take responsibility for their work hours and deadlines. Technology has opened the door for people with in-demand skills and expertise to access opportunities from anywhere and given them more control of where and when they work. This shift has also benefited the business – hiring a gig worker allows for organisations to tap into immediate talent during crunch time or when they need specialised help but without the added costs that come with hiring a full-time employee.

“There’s also the cost factor for companies,” says Cowan. “The recruitment supply chain is expensive. Companies spend a lot of money on talent acquisition and, particularly in highly specialised roles, it’s increasingly difficult and expensive to hire and retain that talent. As the gig economy evolves, so do the services and platforms that serve this economy.”

The platforms designed to connect the digital dots between talent and company are certainly changing the shape of the gig economy. It’s not all Uber drivers and deliveries – platforms are as highly specialised as the gig workers they serve and provide them with access to a market where they can decide where they work, when they work, what they get paid and the length of their engagement.

“Forward-thinking companies are realising that the gig economy is also a smart way of navigating the mercurial market and economic fluctuations that are currently affecting markets and business,” says Cowan. “When employment models are flexible and companies don’t rely exclusively on full-time employees, then they don;t have to worry about the costs and implications of managing a vast workforce. They can simply parachute in the professionals when they need them.”

There are still some companies clinging to the traditional models of recruitment and employment, but the reality is that the gig economy is shaking the foundations of what’s expected and known. It frees companies and talented people from bureaucracy and stodgy, outdated processes while making them more agile and capable of delivering high quality service. 

“Contractors are perceived to be more expensive than hiring a full-time employee but they don’t run through the recruitment pipeline, they deliver quality work at speed, and they don’t continue costing the company money once the job is done,” concludes Cowan. “The people who live within the potential of the gig economy are those that give companies the skills and service they need without the risks, the costs and the complexity. And all this points to the fact that the ongoing growth of the gig economy isn’t just down to people wanting to work from Bali, it’s people, platforms and companies recognising the value of a new model for recruitment.”