I have to laugh when people talk about the “new” gig economy, because the truth of the matter is, it is not new at all. Gigs have been around for a long time as have companies who help successful independent consultants find interesting work. The digital talent platforms may be getting a lot of the attention, but there are a number of cool companies who are building their own platforms based not just on technology, but also on creativity and market insights. One of those is The Hired Guns in New York City.
I first got to know the founder, Allison Hemmings in 2000 shortly after she started The Hired Guns. (THG)
THG is now an award winning digital talent agency and was also named to the Inc. 500 listing of the fastest growing companies in America. The company has a vast network of talent which reflects the entire digital ecosystem, from experts in digital product design to content marketing. They work at the intersection of innovation and transformation for companies, most of whom are large organizations looking at the digital world from a legacy position. Often they put together blended teams for clients composed of “the guns”, or the THG freelancers, as well as internal employees.
“Parity has arrived”, Allison told me recently over lunch. “Companies understand and the talent understands that they need each other.” I asked her how the arrival of digital talent platforms has affected her business. She said that in the grand scheme of things algorithms can only go so far, because the magic in the world of sourcing and matching talent is making sure the right questions are being asked. Platforms are good for discrete, specific needs. But in many cases, especially transformational situations, clients don’t really know what they need. THG brings its own knowledge of the digital marketing world to help clients better define the key outcomes and competencies required to achieve them.
Similarly, big companies who use large Vendor Management Systems(VMS) to handle all vendors, including consultants are focused on the wrong factor, which is cost. THG focuses on quality and getting the right person outweighs the need for speed. THG would rather turn down business where the VMS handles the project, then be in a situation where they cannot speak directly to the client, since that is the only way to ensure they are securing the right talent to meet the needs.
An interesting way they get the right person is through a part of their process which is akin to speed dating. Potential consultants and clients are brought together for round robin interviews in the THG offices. The process is engineered to enable additional questions above and beyond the vetting already done by THG.
Another unique feature is the notion of talent alerts. Unlike regular employees, great consultants do not stay available for long. So when a great consultant rolls off a project, THG lets clients who may be in need of that skill set aware that a star performer is available. “It all comes down to what we are being measured by”, says Allison. “I think its providing the best people in any way we can.”
Having been around for a while, Allison takes a long view on the world of work and where it is heading. As someone in the middle of an industry that is moving quickly, she thinks emotional intelligence (EQ) is a key element of success. EQ makes the difference between a leader and a great leader. The talent wants to be in places with great leadership. “After all”, she quipped, “all work is just a gig.”
To find out more about The Hired Guns, visit http://thehiredguns.com/