Hiring freelancers is not a new development in the business world. It has been happening for decades. What is new is the growing proportion of all employees (in America) which are freelancers, generally referred to as independent contractors. Why is the growing number of freelancers significant for recruiters? For recruiters to best be able to place candidates within hiring companies they need to be able to understand what the company is looking for and what the candidate is looking for and what their priorities are. Freelancers, for whatever reason(s) typically have different priorities than regular/traditional “9-5 employees.” This article seeks to increase understanding of freelancers.

Businesses like freelancers for a number of reasons. The first reason is that they are typically experts in their particular field/trade. Traditional employees obviously have a level of expertise in their field/trade, otherwise they would most likely not be hired in the first place of course, but freelancers typically have more years and/or further depth of knowledge than typical traditional employees.

Another reason businesses hire freelancers is that they typically save businesses money over traditional employees. Traditional employees are compensated via more than just their salary; they typically also receive health care benefits, retirement benefits, paid time off, etc. Businesses do not have to worry about the other forms of compensation beyond salary, though any smart freelancer knows to negotiate a salary that with those facts in mind.

Businesses love efficiency because it means getting the best value for their money spent. Freelancers help drive efficiency because since they are paid per project or task, they are incentivized to complete it as quickly as possible. There are typically no extra motivational factors to keep a traditional employee from stretching the same project or task across a longer time frame because “why not? It’s not like I’ll get paid more if it gets done faster.”

You can never have too much of a good thing, right? Well, in the case of freelancers, HR experts and consultants have seen a number of trends. They have seen companies that rely on a high proportion of freelancers to have a decline in company culture. Freelancers typically do not have much incentive to build up or participate in company culture if they know or think they won’t be working there in a few months or years. Companies also need to place a high priority in properly defining the project for which freelancers are hired to minimize quality assurance issues.