Empowering the Freelance Economy

UK companies look to recruit talent overseas to cut wage costs. Here’s how freelancers can make them look their way instead

Freelancers can use recruitment rends to their advanatage/ Photo by George Milton
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We explore what is happening in corporate UK hiring trends and how they could be impacting freelance recruitment

Businesses are bemoaning that pay increases are not sustainable. Some are exploring other ways to attract and retain staff, including bonuses, free food and reduced hours. Others have cut bonuses or made targets so ridiculously high to attain. Some have given pay increases that are not even close to being in line with inflation. Some are looking to cut costs and train, recruit and open operations overseas.

Let’s start with the National Minimum Wage. Many companies that are manufacturing members of the ICAEW, for example, have expressed that the lift in the minimum wage is having a “knock-on effect on wages and salaries at all levels to maintain and protect pay differentials”. This is especially the case in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Then there’s the talent shortage or rather the unsettled talent challenges. The ICAEW reports that the ability to service increased demand for audit, accountancy and advisory services has been hampered by a shortage of staff, and practice firms have struggled to hire.

“There are increased reports of trainees moving mid-contract,” reports the ICAEW. “Several firms are exploring international recruitment to combat UK candidate shortages, with one considering opening an office in South Africa and expanding its training offering there.”

Moving on to hybrid working, a regular discussion point among ICAEW members. Why? The move back to the office, demanded by employers, yet resisted by staff is perhaps causing recruitment woes or shortages.

Work ethic is also being questioned by hiring companies. And who or what is to blame fo that? The pandemic with its “changing attitudes towards work.”

ICAEW member feedback suggests the work environment has changed: “People have got used to working in a more relaxed way, albeit in a much tougher environment.”

So, with this information at hand, what can freelancers do with it?

  1. More opportunities for growth. The UK talent shortage could create more opportunities for freelancers to grow their businesses. With more demand for freelance skills in the absence of permanent hires staying put, freelancers have the opportunity to expand their businesses and take on more clients. This can lead to increased income, as well as more opportunities to learn and grow.
  2. More opportunities to make a difference. The UK talent shortage is also creating more opportunities for freelancers to make a difference. With more businesses looking for skills and experience to help them solve problems, freelancers have the opportunity to use their skills to make a positive impact on the world.
  3. Higher rates, but with extras thrown in. If companies feel they can’t afford to pay higher wages for their permanent or temporary staff, they may be thinking they can get away with that excuse when it comes to freelancers. But some industries have not shifted their day rates for years, namely in marketing, copywriting and journalism. Freelancers have to remember they are companies, too. How can you get what you want and the client feels the extra they will pay will be worth it (even if they aren’t paying for pensions, sick pay, etc.)? What could you throw in as an extra for say a 10% rate rise? Are there skills they haven’t tapped into yet? Would offering these skills also build your portfolio of work? Businesses could be more willing to pay a premium to get the skills they need, especially when they are unable to find full-time employees with the necessary skills or they want to cut overheads.

Taking these tips into consideration and others in our Career Tips archive, you can start to create a marketing plan to pitch to existing and new clients. You can also start to express what skills companies need; the pain points you have seen clients go through and tie these to news industry stories on social media posts to illustrate your expertise.

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