Who You Gonna Call? Comparing Options for Urgent Talent Sourcing
Maybe you’ve been there before. As a project manager, you realize you’re understaffed and need help solving a backlog of problems in your issues log. Or maybe you’re a division manager, and there’s been a particular issue suspending your team’s productivity, and you’re in need specialized assistance to overcome it. In either case, everyone on your team and in your company is already busy working on their daily responsibilities and do not have any availability to assist with resolving these mounting issues. What do you do?
If you have ever found yourself in this situation of needing to urgently source specialized, skilled assistance with a project, you are not alone. In fact, businesses of all sizes find themselves there quite frequently. Fortunately, when it comes to methods of sourcing additional talent, there are several options to choose from and in this article, we’re going to compare and contrast each of them against some specific circumstances. To date, the most popular talent sourcing options include:
Full-Time Hire (FT),
Part Time Hire (PT),
Temporary Staffer (Temp),
Gig Hire (Freelancer),
Management Consultant (Consultant), or
Friends, Family, & Colleagues (Network).
Each of these solutions has its strengths and weaknesses, and the answer to “what is best” is highly dependent on the circumstances. To identify the best talent sourcing solution, one must consider some key factors including the:
urgency of the task(s),
budget or financial constraints,
skill level required,
the nature of the tasks (project work or daily responsibilities), and
the time frame of the work to be completed (short term or long term).
Of course, there could be other considerations if you really wanted to get creative, but for the sake of simplicity, we will break down each option and weigh them against the circumstances detailed in the introduction. In summary, you need short term, specialized help in solving complex problems, on a specific project, and fast.
If you’re in a pinch on a project requiring urgent attention, depending on the nature of the task itself, the quickest and easiest solution may be to make some calls to friends, family, acquaintances, or colleagues. This assumes that one has an extensive network of highly qualified individuals. Not everyone does though, and another assumption is that these people are actually available to help outside their regular jobs. Furthermore, the risk involved in involving friends and family or people you barely know in business always has its pitfalls and could be illegal depending on the nature of the business. Having a colleague from a different department help you with something is normal, but telling your superiors that you “had a friend/family member/acquaintance help,” hardly implies professionalism and could land you in a world of trouble in more ways than one if things go wrong. Not to mention, confidentiality laws/rules would certainly be a concern here.
For those traditionalists out there and those looking for the next ‘easiest solution,’ this is the most typical response, “Emergency! Quick, we need to hire someone to help with this!” FT Hires are great if you anticipate repeated projects or occurrences like this happening frequently, and they can be more cost-effective in the long term and if the task(s) are incredibly specialized. However, an FT Hire is by no means a quick and easy solution. Hiring someone full time takes time, lots of time. Depending on the urgency of the work to be done and the pickiness of the recruiter, it can sometimes take months or years to find the right candidate when you consider the need to draft a job post, post it, wait for applications, review applications, interview, hire, onboard, and train. This is, of course, assuming you’ve found an amazing candidate. Choose poorly, and you’re soon to be back to square one with all that time and money wasted. To complicate matters further, businesses, regardless of size, are always competing for talent amongst a small pool of qualified candidates to choose from. The companies with the popular names, largest budgets, or best perks usually draw the best talent, so you’ll have to pay handsomely for the best candidates. In short, this is not exactly the best option here, given that you need urgent, project-based work requiring a highly specialized skill set.
If you’re anticipating projects that are seasonal or temporary in nature but on a repeated basis yearly, then a PT Hire could be a good option. However, similar to FT Hires, if a project or task is urgent in nature, it too takes a substantial amount of time to draft a job post, post it, wait for applications, review applications, interview, hire, onboard, and train the candidate. It can be more cost-effective in the long term compared to an FT Hire because you’re likely not paying a full-time salary plus loads of benefits. Furthermore, most candidates with incredibly specialized skills will likely already be hired on an FT basis, and are unlikely or unwilling to accept additional PT work, further minimizing your talent pool to choose from. In our case above, this is not an ideal option.
Urgent or not, if your project/problem isn’t too abstract and requires more standardized business services, such as legal, accounting, HR, or administrative (office) services, then a Temp would be a great option. However, for more specialized problem-solving skills outside the administrative realm, it would be best to consider someone different. The issue above is not something usually accounting/legal/admin related, so a Temp will probably not work best in this situation.
One of the more popular considerations for talent outsourcing is the growth of the freelancer, servicing the “Gig” economy. This contemporary working model functions by having independent freelancers contract their work out on an hourly basis to other individuals or companies. Fueling this growth are companies such as Upwork, Fiverr, Hubstaff, and other websites, that have given companies extensive access to a widening talent pool of highly skilled independent workers whose full-time jobs are dedicated purely to being freelancers. Despite taking time to research, interview, and onboard a freelancer, this option still takes only a fraction of the time compared to hiring a PT or FT hire, and is a lot more cost effective in the short term. For urgent hires, with a specialized skill set at a generally favorable cost, Freelancers are proving to be an increasingly popular choice. However, if your project is more long term, then freelancers are definitely not ideal, as they also have many other clients and projects running simultaneously, meaning you’ll have their limited attention only for a while before they need to source another project and serve other clients. On the other hand, if you’re looking for repeated or seasonal work, freelancers are a more cost-effective option than a PT hire. Lastly, even though anyone and everyone can promote themselves as an expert in a given field, customer ratings and feedback can significantly minimize the risk of hiring someone unqualified or unprofessional for the task(s) at hand. This seems to be a viable solution for many and is being favored increasingly by smaller and larger firms alike.
Saving the best for last, is the Management Consultant. While Management Consultants are usually highly skilled, creative, and experienced in their given industry or practice, they have their drawbacks as well. Like FT or PT hires, Management Consultants take time to locate and hire. So, they are not an ideal option to help with an urgent project. It can take months to research, find the right firm, schedule discovery calls with your team and theirs, and receive a formal proposal before a Statement of Work (SOW) is signed and the project begins. Furthermore, depending on the nature and the length of the project, costs can be fairly high, and like an FT or PT hire, there is a risk these costs may be incurred without any desired results being achieved. Despite the risk and costs, Management Consultants are an ideal solution when you have a pre-arranged working relationship (on call or retainer) with a trusted company or individual consultant that you’ve worked with in the past. The risk and time to hire a Management Consultant is effectively mitigated once you have a trusted advisor that is ready and able to help you with whatever problem you may face when the situation arises. Similar to taking the time to find a lawyer or doctor before an emergency happens, companies that prepare in advance by meeting and finding trusted consultants will find themselves more adequately prepared to handle urgent tasks when they arise. Assuming the Project Manager in the case above did their job and had a management consultancy or independent consultant on call, this would clearly be the ideal option.
These are just some of the urgent talent sourcing options available today. Just remember, before making a decision, bear in mind every business’ circumstances and project tasks are unique and may require something other than, or a combination of those stated above. Here at Monarch Point Consulting Group, we specialize in providing bespoke consulting services to help our clients overcome and prevent problems like those in the cases above before they occur, and we do so with flexible working and pricing arrangements so you stay within budget while achieving the intended results. We are expert practitioners in strategic planning and advise all our current and prospective clients to prepare in advance so they don’t get caught in a predicament where they find themselves shorthanded with their team, or facing a problem requiring immediate, specialized assistance with their business.