The Incredible Shrinking Talent Market. Or is it? (Spoiler alert: It’s not exactly)

Your business is moving at light speed, and you need experienced talent with specific knowledge and skills to fuel growth and solve critical problems. You look out at the open talent market, and it feels tighter and more expensive than ever. Where did everyone go? Gone are the days where you post a job and dozens of experienced candidates bang down your doors. For every experienced candidate today, it seems there are dozens of companies banging down their doors. You walk through the hallways and into the cafeteria, and those places are nearly empty, too. Did the market for experienced talent really shrink due to The Great Resignation? Is your only choice to outbid and overpay? Not exactly.

The reality is that the expertise you need still exists in the market but in different forms, and it is more widely distributed thanks to remote work. In fact, expertise and knowledge can be more accessible today, not less.

Talent access now comes in different forms. If you’re flexible, you will find the expertise you need faster and without breaking your payscale or budget.

What does the talent market look like today?

1. The Free Agent or Side-Hustler (Open to Consultations)

Executives, scientists, doctors, technologists, specialists…semi-retired or available for consultations. This pool is rich with purple unicorns, passion players, self-proclaimed “nerds”, and deep vaults of knowledge. A recent Bank of America survey found that more than a third of people have picked up a side hustle since the beginning of the pandemic. Back in 2017, long before the pandemic, ERE was already touting Baby Boomers as Your Secret Weapon in the War for Talent, thanks to the emerging gig economy of skilled workers.

2. The Full-Time Entrepreneur (Open to Contract Work)

Independent consultants seeking steady contract work. These are the enterprising rockstars, often willing to take on the same load or greater than an FTE but with more focus, specialization, and intention. And with less overhead costs to you.

3. The Passive Candidate (Open to New Career Opportunities)

Often the active and indispensable high performers, open to new challenges but too focused on executing in their current role to be actively looking. They may be your next best hire, but you must find, engage, and inspire them first.

4. The Job-Switcher (Actively Seeking)

Plug-n-play. Actively seeking their next team, eager to contribute and to be reinvigorated. Ready to jump in tomorrow for the right opportunity and challenges.

Access to expertise must be democratized and span all forms. As rideshare platforms tap into empty seats in cars to unlock greater mobility, technology can also enable companies to tap into trapped knowledge everywhere to unlock greater innovation and growth. The benefit is twofold; companies get smarter faster, and knowledge workers, each an expert in their domains, benefit financially and most importantly, through greater meaning and purpose.

 The Graph above is from 2021 Bank of America Survey

Before you look externally, the knowledge and skills your team needs are probably under your nose (or within your organization)

Did you know that Kyra in the Chicago office previously helped build the legacy system that your team is actively bidding to replace? Or that Bill in the LA office was once a buyer for your services and has shopped your competition? Or that Michelle led the food safety project in Ukraine, a project nearly identical to the one that you’re struggling to resource? 

Like icebergs, companies have vast reserves of untapped knowledge hidden below the surface. Employees are known only by their team, for the specific role they were hired for, and not for the full set of experience and skills they may possess. Social profiles are sparse and internal directories are only useful when you already know who you’re looking for. This underutilization of talent creates huge costs in productivity, recruiting, and missed opportunities. Once solved, companies can grow and innovate faster, fully realizing the value of their most coveted asset – their people.

A blended talent model can be difficult to harness and manage. And one-off, transactional conversations cannot replicate the collaborative creativity that comes through relationships and trust.

A one-off conversation may give insight into critical questions and help solve acute challenges. But it’s the relationship over time that creates exponential value. Innovation, growth, and successful execution will always be the byproduct of great collaboration.

At OnFrontiers, we’re reimagining a world where you can have it all – on-demand expertise, strong relationships, inspired collaboration, and teams consisting of the best talent in every form. We’ve built an inclusive talent marketplace and enterprise platform,  the Enterprise Knowledge Network (EKN), that connects people based on what they know, not who they know, internally and externally. We partner with our customers to make these deep vaults of expertise more searchable and accessible, which makes it easier to mobilize the right teams. But this challenge can’t be solved by technology alone. Silos must be dismantled to create a true knowledge ecosystem that allows talent to flow where the skills and experience are most needed.

Yes, the traditional talent market may be shrinking, but our collective arsenal of human knowledge is just starting to be unleashed. I believe that we’re on a path to a smarter and more fulfilled society, and I’m excited to be a part of it. If you’d like to learn more about how we’re reshaping the future of work, please contact me!

#futureofwork #thegreatresignation #thegreatreshuffle #knowledgenetworks

How to Determine Your Worth as a Knowledge Worker

One of the most common questions we receive at OnFrontiers regards setting hourly rates. Engaging with an expert network can be an exciting freelance endeavor, but knowing how to value your hard-earned knowledge can be intimidating.

 

Instead of keeping track of your time and charging hourly rates, you can charge an agreed-upon project rate.

With this type of fee, the focus is on the result, instead of the amount of time you take to complete the project. Try to take your experience, dependability, and speed into consideration instead of just using the number of hours you think it will take when calculating your project fee. The client doesn’t need to know how you came up with your fee. They just need to know how much it will cost to get the job done.

An obvious benefit is a fact that you may finish the project faster than you thought. On the other hand, it could also take longer than you expected. What if the client changes their mind or doesn’t clearly explain what they want? The project could also become more time-consuming with the addition of new elements or unforeseen challenges.

Guidelines For Sharing Knowledge on OnFrontiers

OnFrontiers established simple rules to ensure a consulting environment that prioritizes confidentiality and security.  These rules recognize the existing constraints on information that experts can share with clients on consultations and opportunity calls. Our compliance framework allows experts to be valued for their knowledge and experience as well as it helps navigate our client’s information confidentiality requirements. 

Review the complete Expert Participation Agreement here.

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Why Capture and Business Development Teams Love OnFrontiers.

How OnFrontiers Works

If this is the first time you have heard about OnFrontiers, we will start by offering some background and context. The OnFrontiers platform helps business development professionals and researchers Identify and engage with subject matter experts in the specific areas of focus they need. You can add consultants to your team for capture support, technical writing, or even fulfillment on won contracts. 

OnFrontiers offers a new way to recruit qualified key personnel candidates in the US and abroad. Without having to board a plane, you can use experts to help you build a foundational understanding of the agency, buying office, or opportunity. Experts can answer technical questions specific to individual opportunities, provide competitive intelligence and price-to-win scenarios that will give you a key competitive advantage.

Our Guests Share Stories About Their Success with the Platform

Joining us for the webinar were Troy Wray and Charles Painter. Troy is a Principal with Washington Business Dynamics. He partners with executive teams and stakeholders to build and execute strategies positively impacting organizations. Troy originally joined the platform as an expert and has since become one of our more active and strategic users of the platform, sourcing other experts who can help WBD achieve its growth goals. 

Charles Painter is Vice President of Business Development for Infinisource Consulting Solutions. Charles has significant experience working within the federal sector both as a government contractor and as a former senior-level government employee. 

The Fastest Way to Expand Knowledge and Subject Matter Expertise

By Troy Wray, in his own words: 

OnFrontiers originally reached out to me several years ago when I was completing a project in Indonesia and asked me to join the broader network and be available for consultations with various people who were interested in learning more about opportunities in Indonesia. That was really my first experience with OnFrontiers and a very positive one. Fast forward several months later, I joined Washington Business Dynamics in Washington and I was charged with, among other things, helping to develop new international business for the firm.

I felt as though the firm should not be limited by the knowledge and network that I had. It was important to me to look at broadening the reach of the firm so we looked at a number of tools and looked very seriously at OnFrontiers to support our firm growth and our strategy. A few months later, we found some very interesting opportunities coming from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and we knew with the right team and the right ability to reach back to different experts, we could put together a strong proposal. In fact, we did put together a winning bid, and thanks to OnFrontiers we’ve been able to meet the needs of the client and make that project really work for us. Over the last year and a half, we’ve used OnFrontiers in different ways. It allows other people within our firm to use this really powerful tool for their own business development efforts. We’ve expanded our use of OnFrontiers both to meet the needs of clients we currently serve — in other words, to be able to build our knowledge network, reach back and have consultations with experts.

We’ve used OnFrontiers to help get smarter about opportunities in different countries, understand the landscape a little bit better and build our competitive intelligence. 

We were very lucky to have OnFrontiers as the pandemic hit and travel opportunities were closed off. We had international clients and projects and activities that we were trying to pursue and deliverables to meet and all of those kinds of things as you would expect. OnFrontiers was able to help us identify local expertise where it was required, and in a couple of specific cases, we were able to source local experts for our ongoing work. I would say that we’re excited about everything that the platform brings us. We found it to be agile, to really deepen our capabilities. We’re sold on the power of it.

Stronger Bids, Deeper Expertise, and Excellent ROI 

By Charles Painter, in his own words: 

ICS is a small business. Our work is divided between army commands, federal civilian agencies, and some federal law enforcement. We’ve been part of the OnFrontiers platform for two months. It was not an insignificant expense for our company and we’ve been very satisfied thus far with the support we’ve received, not only from the OnFrontiers staff but the results that we’ve gotten through the expert marketplace.

I first came across OnFrontiers through the Capital Business Development Association, a group I founded in June 2018. It turned out to be one of the fastest-growing Gov-Con BD organizations, certainly in the D.C area and we’re spreading out around the country. OnFrontiers presented at our CBDA function and the description of the tool really touched on several challenges that small businesses face in business development, particularly in capture and proposal operations: 

  • A lack of resources
  • The inability to develop the level of customer intimacy that you’d like to have in your bid
  • Developing a real window into the customer’s hot buttons, what their concerns really are
  • Insight into incumbent performance, conducting effective technical solutions
  • The ability to bring a real differentiator to bear. All of these are challenges that ICS faces as a small business, and all small businesses face this

Frankly, I was skeptical at first. How could a single platform really bring the type of talent you were talking about? How could it help ICS given the wide variety of customers that we’re targeting from the intelligence community to the Department of Defense, to Federal Law Enforcement, to Federal Civilian Agencies? We’ve had the opportunity to use the platform three times in the last two months. We used OnFrontiers to support a Coast Guard bid, a bid for NASA LaRC, and also a piece of work that we did at a National Laboratory.

In each case, using the expert marketplace we conducted what I would refer to as a precision search, looking for individuals with specific experience in specific agencies and specific subcomponents of those agencies. In every case, we were able to find individuals very rapidly, with knowledge of the programs and processes involved. In two cases we found recently retired government officials. They were familiar with the contracts, they were familiar with the incumbent personnel. They were able to give us the names of incumbents and government managers in charge of the technical management of the programs.

All of this was invaluable data for our solutions as part of our capture and proposal process. We’ve been very, very pleased with the support we’ve received from OnFrontiers.

Try OnFrontiers for Your Next Federal Contracting Business Development or Capture Process

Want to learn more about how OnFrontiers can help your business gain an advantage and increase your win-rate on federal contracts? 

To learn more about how to build out your knowledge network using OnFrontiers, email [sales@onfrontiers.com]