In post as Director of Operations and External Resource at Fingerpost my role is quite self-explanatory; I manage our internal operations and I resource all the projects that we win with clients. In this month’s blog it’s the external resource part that I’m keen to talk more about.
I’d been in recruitment for nearly 12 years prior to joining Cath at Fingerpost – the first 6 years solely within temporary market, where hourly/daily rates and large networks of ‘freelance’ candidates were my norm and the latter 6 years predominantly centric to permanent recruitment. I loved the temporary side of recruitment but the markets I worked in didn’t win my interest - this was truly piqued when I went into Market Access and permanent resourcing. The opportunity to join Cath and take responsibility for pulling together and managing project teams for her outsourced offering presented me with a chance to take two areas of interest (and a wealth of opportunity to learn new things) and blend them into what has been a wonderful role so far!
I’m a MASSIVE advocate of freelancers. If, as a business, you are under resourced or under skilled and there is time pressure on you to deliver then why would you not invest in someone experienced who is willing to come into an unknown culture and team and leave again once the job is done? (They may even provide you with some great insights on methodology or practise whilst they’re at it!) I’m pretty sure all the hiring managers/team leads reading this now are thinking ‘cost’ as one of the barriers, but I have experienced many a situation where the simple “pay as you go” cost of the freelancer is far less than the cost of not getting the job done on time or having to pull people off other projects to deliver yours.
Asides ‘cost’ another area for concern could be 'risk’. Of course, the great thing about a freelancer is that there is no employment risk to your business but granted, this ‘risk’ element manifests itself in skill and ability to do the job well – and I will give you this one! It’s always nerve-wracking as a recruiter, indeed as a manager, when you place a contractor who may not turn out to be as good as you thought; even with marvellous references, things can go wrong. This is where the Fingerpost model works incredibly well. We build a freelance project team where we are involved and can guarantee the outcome. More often than not Cath works on content, provides quality control or strategic advice. Occasionally when we face extreme time pressures and see there may be a burden on one freelancer, we manage multiple freelancers working in unison to get the work completed quickly. We have worked with many of our freelancers before and continue to build the network on positive recommendations.
Not only am I a massive advocate of freelancers but it seems so is the general workforce. According to a 2018 report from the Office of National Statistics (UK) “The number of self-employed increased from 3.3 million people (12.0% of the labour force) in 2001 to 4.8 million (15.1% of the labour force) in 2017”. As we frequently get enquiries about “becoming a freelancer” in the Market Access space, we have decided to conduct a short survey on freelancer experience to understand more about the role of a freelancer; measuring how freelancers are currently operating within market access and related fields e.g. medical communications, brand strategy, healthcare market research, HEOR, etc’ (you can participate here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XK8BVXJ). These results will be analysed in June and communicated in our July newsletter, although to give you a little snippet thus far, the overriding reasons for individuals taking the leap into the world of freelance are: lack of flexibility in permanent roles and negative company culture/politics in previous work places.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone (and we have asked about the negatives in our survey too!), nor is it necessary or practical for businesses to engage with freelancers continuously. However, given the limited pool of candidates within Market Access/HEOR, we hope our survey results will prove valuable to both freelancers and employers alike – indeed, freelancers may even help us all to understand the best approach for attracting and retaining high-calibre individuals within the industry.