Executives Are Hiring Freelancers More Than Ever, Study Reveals

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Over two thirds of companies say their senior executives have made more requests to hire freelancers.

According to data collected by Business Talent Group (BTG), 69% of requests for freelance work were filed by executives of VP level and above. Among those requests 30% came from C-level executives, a 67% year over year increase. The figures are based on project requests from BTG’s global client base, which is composed of Fortune1000 companies, private-equity firms, and nonprofits.

The pandemic shook up the freelancing world

More people are considering freelancing because of the pandemic. It’s also a reason why more CEOs sought out help from freelancers, according to BTG’s data. Interim talent offered companies stopgap solutions during uncertain times. The report suggested companies are now completely rethinking how they should deliver work.

A key change is, of course, the shift to remote work and working with digital nomads. Before COVID-19, only 17% of executives were interested in offering remote-only work arrangements for freelancers. The rate remained unchanged through January and February, but saw a dramatic shift as the pandemic went on. By May, 74% of all project requests filed through BTG were remote – a 335% increase year over year. 

Executives are turning to flexible leadership

With the pandemic sending many through a turbulent year, executives turned to freelancer CEOs for their ability to fill short-term leadership roles. Companies didn’t have the time or resources to make long-term hires, and were drawn to the flexibility of freelancers. 

According to the study, one of the most in-demand project requests for freelancers was for interim executive roles. Out of all projects, the need for freelance executives saw the most dramatic increase – over 70% year over year. Other popular project requests included roles in: 

  1. Marketing and Sales 
  2. Opportunity Assessment 
  3. Business Processes 
  4. Planning 
  5. Product Strategy and Launch 
  6. Business Intelligence and Analytics 
  7. Mergers and Acquisitions

Moreover, the most coveted freelancing skills include many that had to do with flexible leadership roles. Skills like project management, corporate strategy, and growth strategy were some of the high-end skills companies looked for most. The full list included:

  1. Project Management 
  2. Market Landscape and Research 
  3. Process Optimization and Transformation 
  4. Corporate and Business Unit Strategy 
  5. Organizational Design and Workforce Planning 
  6. Market Access and Value 
  7. Growth Strategy 
  8. Advanced Analytics 
  9. Strategic Planning 
  10. Tech and Systems Implementation

Over a third of companies said they focused on bringing in executive freelancers to help them with organization, operations, and transformation. This is consistent with two other studies: one that found large businesses are increasingly looking to freelancers and another that found white collar freelance hiring is experiencing significant growth.

Embracing the new normal

With more and more companies embracing remote work, the shift opens up a new world of opportunities for freelancers. Remote companies have been shown to be more likely to hire freelancers according to one study, particularly as executives are no longer limited to workers in their immediate vicinity. They can choose from a more diverse talent pool to ensure they find the right fit regardless of where they live.

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