3 creative ways to take full advantage of your contingent workforce.
Using consultants as seasonal workers or parental leave replacements is one thing. Having them lead an entirely new project or design an original system is another. Too often, companies are restricted by an unnecessarily narrow understanding of what a consultant is – when in reality, they can be whatever you need them to be.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million US workers are classified as independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary workers, and contingent workers. Among those 16.6 million people is your next star consultant.
Remember, these are highly accomplished professionals, looking to quickly and efficiently leave their mark on your company. Don’t simply use them as a placeholder. Tap into their technical skills, draw from their expertise, and really get your money’s worth.
Check out these 3 unusual ways that top companies are using consultants today:
1. Providing leadership on a massive project.
Let’s put an end to the myth that consultants are nothing more than worker bees. Armed with years of experience and a proven track record with companies like yours, there’s no reason qualified contract workers can’t be successful leaders and visionaries in their own right. These ‘partner consultants,’ though tricky to find, are primed to swiftly and economically turn around a department, lead a new initiative, or design innovative software.
Recently, one of our client companies brought on a tenured consultant to lead the reimagining of all internal desktops throughout the entire business. This consultant had to come in with a vision, an implementation plan, and the industry experience to support her recommendations.
With our help, the company was able to leverage the consultant’s varied background and technical skills to quickly resolve a company-wide challenge. Had they tried to promote internally, day-to-day processes would have faced major disruption and the changes would have likely been met with increased pushback.
2. Testing the waters before committing: contract-to-hire.
On occasion, you’ll meet a wonderful candidate with outstanding technical skills and an interesting background – and you won’t know exactly what to do with them. Maybe they’re too inexperienced for the role you had in mind, or they just don’t check every one of your boxes.
Whatever the cause, you’re hesitant to bring them on as a direct hire. What now?
Hiring someone as a consultant is a great way to get a better sense of their abilities and strengths on the job itself. Find out if that resume hole really should be of concern, or if it’s no more than an interesting artifact of a life well-lived. Test their skills, get to know them as a person – and then, when the time is right, decide whether or not to make a commitment.
I don’t usually recommend this route unless you are already quite invested in the candidate. Say, perhaps, you were looking for someone to check 10/10 boxes and they checked 8/10. In my book, that’s close enough to merit a trial run. But if they’re far off from your expectations, don’t waste their time or yours.
3. Offering an outsider point of view on a highly technical initiative.
People who have worked as consultants for a considerable amount of time have seen the same problem approached by a number of different companies in a variety of different ways. After years in the trade, they can identify a misstep from a mile away – and can offer insightful solutions drawn directly from their experiences.
It’s well understood that a fresh set of eyes will often recognize problems invisible to those already invested in the project. Bringing in a highly experienced consultant midway through a new implementation, for example, may help you spot problems before you get too far into the venture. Allow the consultant to review your plans and work with you going forward to adjust accordingly.
Unsurprisingly, the companies that can see beyond a limited definition of ‘consultant’ tend to get the most out of their contingent workforce. Over the past 11 years, Proven Recruiting has helped companies of all sizes hire and onboard talented consultants for a variety of projects, including some wildly successful out-of-the-box initiatives.
How you use consultants is only limited by your own imagination. If you’re looking for more smart ways your company can benefit from a contingent workforce, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your options!