“How big is the crowdsourcing market? Do you think it will continue to grow?” It’s a question that is coming up a lot recently in discussions both on and offline.
My answer is that the sex appeal and interest in the term crowdsourcing will fade away in the coming years, but crowdsourcing’s work model will merge with the existing trend towards more flexible work model. Both employers and employees – for their own reasons – are becoming more interested in contract or project work relationships rather than full-time employment. This is evidenced by the fact that 68% of new jobs in the US last year were project work. Only 1 in 3 hires were for full-time employees.
Project work and the impact on hiring
This trend to contract work requires companies to rethink their hiring process for project workers. They simply cannot spend as much money on the hiring process for a project worker for three months as they can a full-time employee for three years or more. So they must find more creative ways to recruit, screen and train project workers. Crowdsourcing provides an efficient way to replace these steps in the hiring process for project workers.
Crowdsourcing exposes a company to many qualified workers
Today companies often use crowdsourcing when they don’t know someone personally who can complete the job (for Macrotasks). When that’s the case, crowdsourcing platforms provide a great alternative because the company gets to choose from a number of crowdworkers based on their output.
As a natural part of the crowdsourcing process, the company is exposed to a number of qualified candidates for the job. The company engages with a handful of crowdworkers. And sometimes they find an individual or small team who they really like. When similar needs come up in the future, the company can now turn to those likeable individuals to get the new job done. But this time the crowdsourcing process isn’t necessary, a simple contract between the company and the freelancer will do the trick. Perhaps that freelancer can use crowdsourcing to generate a wider range of ideas or grow the team to match the client’s needs.
Crowdsourcing replaces the job interview
A well-run crowdsourcing project covers the bases for recruiting and screening workers for a short-term project by allowing the candidate to:
- Self-select into working with the client and project
- Highlight their past performance on similar projects
- Demonstrate their expertise in the client’s industry or subject matter of the project
- Show a required level of fit with the company’s culture and full-time staff
Not all crowdsourcing projects will make great replacements for the job interview. Crowdsourcing projects must fit at least these criteria to serve as a replacement to the job interview for project workers:
- Meaningful projects such as marketing advice or suggestions to improve the user experience on a website. These are sometimes called Macrotasks, in contrast to microtasks.
- A well-written project brief that gives those who participate in the project enough of an understanding of the client situation so they can work in a client-specific context.
- Engagement from the client with the crowd workers throughout the project.
Finally, the crowdsourcing platform or process must include steps to make an easy transition from crowdsourcing project with a number of workers to paid contract work with the selected team or individual.
A final word on crowd motivation
If a company or platform can demonstrate the link between crowdsourcing and paid projects then a new motivation exists for crowdworkers to participate. Today, many experts are not interested in crowdsourcing because the only obvious outcome is a one-time payment of a couple hundred (or maybe thousand) dollars. But if there was a potential to find a client to work with in a long-term relationship then a whole new profile of crowd workers would enter the picture.