December 9, 2015 – Executive search firm Hunt Partners has invested an undisclosed amount in Feelance Consulting, a yet-to-launch online marketplace that will connect users with part-time resources for consulting projects. Feelance will use the money raised to scale up operations and expand geographically, said co-founder Harshdeep Rapal. The company expects to launch next month.
“There is an emerging trend where organizations prefer to engage with senior independent consultants for niche, short-term requirements rather than hiring full-time employees. We will only enroll knowledge workers on our platform,” said Mr. Rapal.
“The focus is on ensuring that skillsets match completely to the assignment, enabling organizations to get consultants in the shortest time possible,” said Suresh Raina, managing partner at Hunt Partners.
Founded in 2003 and maintaining principal offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Beijing, Hunt Partners is a leadership talent advisory firm covering the Europe-India-Asia corridor.
The percentage of the U.S. workforce represented by freelancers held steady at 34 percent in 2015 from 2014, according to online staffing firm Upwork’s second annual Freelancing in America survey. Forbes estimates this number will balloon to 50 percent by 2020.
Upwork defines a freelancer as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work, within the past 12 months.” At 34 percent of the U.S. workforce, that equates to an estimated 53.7 million people, according to the report. Although the percentage of freelancers held steady at 34 percent, their number actually rose by 700,000 because of growth in the overall labor force.
“People are increasingly building flexible careers on their own terms, based on their passions, desired lifestyle and access to a much broader pool of opportunities than ever before in history,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “While we are still relatively early in the rise of the freelance workforce, there’s no doubt its growth will continue. Professionals are not only turning away from traditional employment, once they do most have no desire to go back.”
According to ‘The Future of Work’ report by PwC, almost half (46 percent) of HR professionals expect at least a fifth of their workforce to comprise contractors or temporary workers within five years.
“The world of work is changing,” said Jon Andrews, head of PWC’s global people & organization practice. “Contract work is in many cases trumping full-time, permanent roles for people due to the flexibility, autonomy and control it offers. People are increasingly using the technology of the connected work market to dictate where and when they work, and for who.”
“This is yet another golden opportunity for executive recruiters,” said Scott A. Scanlon, founding chairman and CEO of Greenwich-based Hunt Scanlon Media. “I’m thrilled to see at least one of them making this investment.”
Mr. Scanlon said the so-called on-demand, or gig, economy has been around for quite some time now, affording workers flexibility and employers affordability. “But our coming talent challenges are significant enough that recruiters now need to think through how they can tap into this underground talent pool and bring it more to the surface as an additional, mainstream talent solution,” he said.
“Companies like Upwork see about $1 billion worth of freelance work passing through their business each year. Why would search firms allow this type of upstart to take away so much in fees? I see this as a lost opportunity for talent leadership providers, especially considering the coming Millennial generation and their proclivities to work differently.”
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media