Navigating the Freelance Revolution: Balancing Autonomy with Supportive Infrastructure

In the wake of the freelance revolution, epitomized by the rise of highly skilled professionals gravitating towards project-based work, the dynamics of the modern workforce are undergoing a profound transformation. The Harvard Business Review article, “Highly Skilled Professionals Want Your Work, but Not Your Job,” illuminates this paradigm shift, underscoring the allure of autonomy and flexibility that draws individuals to gig platforms. While celebrating the opportunities inherent in this shift, it is imperative to acknowledge the crucial role of supportive infrastructure, particularly in the form of staffing companies, like Ursus, in ensuring the well-being and success of independent professionals.

The appeal of project-based work lies in its promise of autonomy, enabling professionals to chart their career trajectories and pursue projects aligned with their skills and passions. However, amidst the allure of independence, it is essential to recognize the significance of robust support systems that safeguard the interests of both freelancers and employers. This is where Ursus and other staffing companies play a pivotal role.

Ursus recognizes the importance of comprehensive screening for both hard and as importantly soft skills, background checks, and proper worker classification in the gig economy landscape. Unlike many gig platforms that may overlook these critical aspects, Ursus prioritizes the welfare of both clients and freelancers by ensuring stringent vetting processes. By conducting thorough background checks and screenings, Ursus mitigates risks associated with hiring independent professionals, safeguarding clients against potential liabilities, and ensuring the integrity of their projects.

Moreover, Ursus understands the importance of proper worker classification, a facet often overlooked in gig platforms where misclassification can lead to legal ramifications and financial penalties. By adhering to regulatory guidelines and ensuring compliance with labor laws, Ursus provides peace of mind to both clients and freelancers, fostering a transparent and ethical work environment.

Beyond mitigating risks, staffing companies like Ursus offer invaluable support to independent professionals, providing access to a myriad of opportunities, professional development resources, and benefits typically associated with traditional employment. From healthcare benefits to retirement plans, Ursus prioritizes the well-being and financial security of freelancers, recognizing their contributions as integral members of the workforce via our Contractor Care team.

While the gig economy offers unparalleled autonomy and flexibility, its sustainability hinges on the presence of supportive infrastructure that addresses the evolving needs of independent professionals. Ursus exemplifies this ethos, championing a holistic approach to talent management that prioritizes integrity, compliance, and well-being. By partnering with staffing companies that prioritize screening, background checks, and proper worker

classification, both clients and freelancers can navigate the freelance revolution with confidence, unlocking new possibilities for collaboration, innovation, and growth.

Are We Overlooking a Crucial Aspect of Workplace Training?

In today’s rapidly changing workplace landscape, the emphasis on training employees to adapt to new challenges and expectations is undeniable. From technical skills to soft skills like communication and teamwork, organizations invest significant resources in ensuring their workforce is well-equipped to succeed. However, amidst this focus on employee development, one crucial aspect seems to be slipping through the cracks: training managers on how to effectively train their employees. 

According to a recent survey conducted by Resume Builder, which polled over 1.5k business leaders, a staggering 45% of companies already offer etiquette training to their employees. Furthermore, an additional 18% of companies plan to implement such training in 2024. While this data highlights a commendable effort to cultivate a professional and respectful workplace environment, it also raises an important question: Why aren’t we prioritizing training for managers to effectively impart these skills to their teams? 

Managers play a pivotal role in shaping the culture and dynamics within their teams. They are responsible for providing guidance, support, and feedback to their employees, which directly impacts productivity, morale, and overall performance. Yet, despite the critical nature of their role, many managers are not adequately equipped with the necessary training and resources to effectively train their employees on important aspects such as workplace etiquette. 

So, why aren’t we investing more in training managers to train their employees effectively? One possible explanation is a pervasive assumption that managerial skills are innate or acquired through experience, rather than through structured training and development programs. However, this assumption overlooks the fact that effective leadership is a skill that can be honed and refined through targeted training and coaching. 

Too often a manager is promoted into management based on their individual performance not necessarily on their ability to train, motivate, instruct, and mentor the employees they oversee. An awesome individual contributor does not by default translate to a great manager. In fact, more often, those newly promoted managers still spend more time on their own production and advancement versus those of their employees.    

Consider the implications of this oversight. Without proper guidance and support from their managers, employees may struggle to internalize and apply the principles taught in etiquette training sessions. Furthermore, managers who lack training themselves may inadvertently perpetuate behaviors that undermine the effectiveness of such initiatives, leading to a disconnect between organizational values and day-to-day workplace interactions. 

Additionally, there may be budgetary constraints or competing priorities that prevent organizations from allocating resources to managerial training initiatives. However, investing in the development of managerial skills can yield significant returns in terms of employee engagement, retention, and organizational performance. 

It’s time for organizations to recognize the importance of training managers on how to train their employees effectively. By equipping managers with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for their teams, organizations can foster a culture of continuous growth and development that benefits everyone involved. Management is a skill, (it’s also a really hard job), and requires a different set of skill sets.  We owe it to all of our employees to make sure we are “training the trainers” regardless of tenure or seniority.  

Rethinking Creative Talent Sourcing Beyond Creative Agencies

In the dynamic digital landscape, the pursuit of creative talent is both crucial and complex. Traditionally, businesses have turned to creative agencies for their expertise, bundling services at a premium. How do we know this?  We regularly provide talent to these creative agencies who then mark up the hourly rates by as much as 100%.  Not only do staffing companies like Ursus offer specialized talent we also address concerns regarding cost, efficiency, and risk mitigation related to worker classification. Let’s delve into why procurement leadership is reevaluating the traditional approach given that creative agencies are struggling to adapt, and exploring the untapped potential of staffing agencies as an option for great creative talent. 

The Markup Conundrum: One prevalent but often overlooked practice in the creative industry is the markup applied by creative agencies when hiring talent sourced from staffing companies. This markup, typically ranging from 2-3 times the original rate, significantly inflates project costs. With market conditions tighter in the last two years procurement leaders are increasingly scrutinizing these markups and asking why. 

Cost Transparency and Efficiency: By engaging talent directly through staffing agencies, businesses gain transparency into the true cost of labor, eliminating the intermediary markups associated with creative agencies who typically price on project-based or statement of work where labor costs are hidden.  This transparent pricing model enables procurement teams to optimize resource allocation, negotiate competitive rates, and maximize cost-efficiency without compromising quality or talent access. 

Risk Mitigation through Compliance: Procurement leadership is taking a proactive stance in addressing compliance risks associated with worker classification. Engaging talent through staffing agencies ensures compliance with labor regulations, mitigating the risk of misclassification and its associated penalties. Staffing agencies assume responsibility for legal compliance, insurance, and payroll administration, providing businesses with peace of mind and operational stability.  Federal and individual states like California are becoming more stringent on worker classification and companies will continue to be more closely scrutinized.  

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: Procurement leaders recognize the pivotal role of staffing agencies in promoting diversity and inclusion within the workforce. Staffing agencies actively recruit and advocate for diverse talent, championing inclusivity and representation across industries. By partnering with staffing agencies committed to diversity initiatives, businesses demonstrate their commitment to equity, social responsibility, and innovation. 

But wait, my creative agency has a “bench”! It’s hard to believe that agencies continue to use this pitch and get away with it.  A “bench” suggests there is a room full of talent waiting for the moment your company signs an agreement and can immediately spring into action.  How can anyone afford to keep specialized expensive talent on salary and not deployed? The answer is they can’t! And when they do sign a contract and need to assemble a team, they call us!   Working with creative staffing firms eliminates the middle person and results in significant cost savings!  In an era characterized by agility and efficiency, procurement leaders recognize the need for streamlined processes that facilitate rapid talent acquisition. Staffing agencies offer a scalable and agile solution, leveraging advanced recruitment technologies and extensive talent networks to expedite the procurement process. From talent sourcing and screening to onboarding and deployment, staffing agencies optimize every step, minimizing time-to-fill and enhancing project agility. 

Progressive procurement leadership is redefining the paradigm of talent sourcing in the creative industry, moving beyond traditional creative agencies towards staffing agencies that offer transparency, efficiency, compliance, and strategic value. By challenging the status quo and embracing innovative procurement practices, businesses can optimize resource utilization, mitigate risks, and unlock the full potential of their creative endeavors. The era of high markup project work is giving way to a new era of cost-effective, agile, and inclusive talent solutions, driven by evolving needs and priorities and delivered by digitally fluent staffing companies like Ursus!  

Navigating the Spectrum of Creative Talent Hiring: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Business

As the digital revolution continues to gain momentum, the demand for creative talent has skyrocketed as companies recognize the critical role of creativity in driving innovation and competitive advantage. Whether you’re a burgeoning startup, a medium-sized enterprise, or a large corporation, the challenge of sourcing and retaining top-tier creative professionals remains a constant.

The interdependence of the CIO and CMO is as important as ever before. In a blog post, I wrote earlier this year, I noted that the acceleration of the digital transformation movement has, in parallel, also transformed the CMO and CIO job responsibilities and required skill sets and talent requirements. Almost one-third of CMOs today are leading their company’s digital transformation agendas, requiring them to forge close relationships with the CIO to deliver on the MarTech stack and digital environment. Similarly, the CIO must provide a quality of service not judged only by uptime SLA, but also by delivering a user-friendly, consumer-like experience on par with the latest trending consumer apps. The once siloed walls are coming down and the once-traditional lines of demarcation are blending into more tightly collaborative projects, often with interchangeable department talent and skills.

As you embark on this journey to build your marketing and creative teams, exploring various hiring options becomes imperative. Let’s delve into the spectrum of creative talent acquisition and explore the options available and the distinct advantages and potential challenges.

Full-Time Hire:

The traditional route of bringing on full-time creative talent involves hiring individuals as permanent employees within your organization. Full-time hires often align seamlessly with the long-term vision of your company, enabling a deep understanding of your brand ethos and objectives. Moreover, full-time employees are fully integrated into the organizational culture, potentially leading to enhanced collaboration and creativity. However, this method can be costlier, involving comprehensive benefits packages and higher salaries.

Marketing and Creative Agencies:

Collaborating with marketing and creative agencies presents a compelling option for businesses seeking access to a diverse pool of specialized talent. These agencies offer a breadth of expertise, often comprising teams of professionals skilled in various creative disciplines. Engaging with an agency allows for a fresh perspective on your brand and creative projects, and the collective experience of the agency team can deliver innovative solutions. This option offers the advantage of tapping into a well-established network of industry experts and experienced creatives; however, this approach can be significantly more expensive, and often the talent assigned to projects may not be the “A-team” despite the high rates.

On-Demand or Gig Platforms:

Platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, and have gained prominence in recent years, offering businesses the flexibility to hire creative professionals on a project-by-project basis on demand. These platforms provide access to a global talent pool, enabling you to discover specialized skills tailored to your specific project requirements. The on-demand model is particularly beneficial for businesses with fluctuating workloads or those in need of short-term creative assistance. However, managing remote freelancers may pose challenges related to communication, coordination, quality control, worker classification, background and skills screening, and access to proprietary information.

Contractors via Staffing Agencies like Ursus:

Staffing agencies like Ursus cater to businesses seeking specialized creative talent on a contract basis. Staffing agencies streamline the recruitment process, offering access to pre-vetted professionals with expertise in diverse creative fields at a fraction of the price of creative agencies. Leveraging staffing agencies allows for a more targeted approach to talent acquisition, ensuring that you find the right fit for your project requirements. Contract-based engagements provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness, as you can scale your creative team as needed without the long-term commitment of full-time hires or the price of creative agencies.

Sourcing creative talent involves careful assessment of needs, budget, and project scale, and choosing more than one option is very common. Full-time hires, creative agencies, Upwork, and Ursus each have their strengths and limitations. Combining different talent sources can help build a diverse team that meets deadlines and business goals, tailored to budget, timeline, and required skill sets.

Amidst the AI revolution, why job descriptions hold greater significance than ever before

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and hiring top talent can be a daunting task for employers. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it becomes even more crucial to craft unique and thoughtful job descriptions that capture the attention of both human candidates and automated systems. Gone are the days of generic, one-size-fits-all job postings. Done right, you set yourself up for growth. Done wrong, and you may be up hiring the wrong people, paying unfairly, and spending thousands of dollars retraining and re-hiring.   

Prior to the arrival of ChatGPT estimates showed that the average job description was the result of on average 17x cut and pasted prior versions lifted off the internet or shared by a colleague.  This copycat behavior will only get worse with rise of AI generated job descriptions.   If everyone is using ChatGPT to write a job description for example, a .NET developer, how is your company’s job posting going to stand out amongst the dozens if not hundreds of similar job postings?   If your job descriptions uniquely capture your company the opportunity, the “tone” of your business and is constructed properly, candidates will notice the level of detail and thought about the job and your company versus your competitors.  

Some important considerations to consider while writing your job descriptions.  

Reflecting Company Culture: 

A well-crafted job description serves as a window into a company’s culture, values, and overall brand identity. It should go beyond a mere list of requirements and responsibilities and instead reflect the unique attributes that make an organization special, your origins and history, culture, community involvement and diversity initiatives with published quantifiable results. With AI playing a growing role in recruitment processes, candidates are often inundated with impersonal job descriptions that fail to capture the essence of a company. By investing time and effort into creating thoughtful and personalized descriptions, companies can stand out from the crowd and attract individuals who align with their core values. 

Attracting Diverse Talent: 

Diversity and inclusion have rightfully become top priorities for companies worldwide. However, traditional job descriptions have often unintentionally perpetuated bias by using generic language that appeals to a limited pool of candidates. AI-powered hiring systems can inadvertently perpetuate this bias if fed with biased job descriptions. Do you even know the origin of the content generated from the AI engine?  Employers must consciously strive to craft inclusive descriptions that appeal to a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. By utilizing thoughtful language, emphasizing inclusion, and avoiding gendered or biased terms, companies can cast a wider net and tap into a more diverse talent pool. 

Optimizing for AI Screening: 

As AI plays an increasingly prominent role in candidate screening, it’s essential to optimize job descriptions to enhance compatibility with automated systems. AI algorithms analyze various factors to match job descriptions with applicant resumes. By using targeted keywords, relevant industry terminology, and specific qualifications, organizations can increase their chances of being matched with the right candidates. However, caution should be exercised to strike a balance between tailoring descriptions for AI and maintaining an authentic and human touch. Never, ever forget, humans buy from humans.  

Showcasing Opportunities for Growth: 

Job seekers, particularly those who are motivated and ambitious, seek growth opportunities in their careers. A unique job description should not only outline the responsibilities and qualifications but also highlight the potential for professional development and advancement within the organization. You want to attract candidates that are looking for a career not just a job.  Emphasizing training programs, mentorship opportunities, or a clear career path can attract candidates who are eager to learn and progress. By demonstrating a commitment to employee growth, companies can attract top talent who seek long-term opportunities and can contribute significantly to their success. 

Enhancing Candidate Experience: 

Crafting unique and thoughtful job descriptions goes beyond attracting candidates; it also impacts their overall experience with the hiring process. A well-written description sets clear expectations, provides relevant information, and engages candidates. By presenting a comprehensive and appealing overview of the role and the company, employers can create a positive impression from the initial stages, fostering enthusiasm and encouraging candidates to invest in the application process. This can result in a higher-quality applicant pool and a more efficient and effective recruitment process.

Adhering to pay transparency and avoiding legal exposure:

Job descriptions can defend the reasoning behind why a position is exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). By outlining a job’s requirements and defining performance standards, the job description will help to justify your employment decisions and reduce your organization’s exposure to costly litigation.  A job hierarchy is the foundation of your pay structure. By listing out the duties and requirements for a specific role in your job description, you explain why a position is compensated in a particular way. You can also easily compare roles in various pay markets to price competitively to help attract top talent. 

Full Time v Contract Employment: The Pros & Cons of Each

With the spate of recent full time employee layoffs in the technology sector, many candidates are now starting to entertain contract opportunities given that fewer full time or “permanent”, (is any job permanent in this market?), roles are available. Despite the contingent labor market representing over $200B in spend last year, our sales and recruiting teams frequently engage with hiring managers and job seekers who are not familiar with the contingent or contract model.

For those job seekers weighing their options or choices, assuming you are lucky enough to have a choice, we thought it would be helpful to outline the pros and cons of each engagement model. There is no better or worse here, just different.

Full-time Employment:


  • Benefits: Employers often provide benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off to their full-time employees. However, established contingent staffing firms, like Ursus, do over comparable healthcare insurance and retirement benefits.
  • Job Security (maybe see recent headlines): Full-time employees traditionally have held job security as they are less likely to be laid off or lose their jobs unless the company undergoes significant changes or restructuring.
  • Opportunities for growth: Full-time employees have more opportunities for growth and development within the company, including promotions, training, and learning opportunities.


  • Lack of Flexibility: Full-time employees have less flexibility in their work schedules and are required to work set hours.
  • Limited autonomy: Full-time employees may have limited autonomy and control over their work, as they are often required to follow the company’s policies and procedures.
  • Limited earning potential: Full-time employees are limited to their salary and may not have the opportunity to earn more unless they receive a promotion or raise which can often take years via promotion cycles.

Contract Work:


  • Flexibility: Contract workers have more flexibility in their work schedules and can often work remotely. Many contractors work for a one or two years, then take longer stretches of time off, that may not be acceptable as a full-time employee.
  • Higher Earning Potential: Contract workers can charge higher rates for their services and have the opportunity to earn more money. This is especially true of highly skilled workers that complete projects at a faster cadence than may even be available to a full-time employee who is limited by the organizational structure of their employer.
  • Autonomy: Contract workers have more autonomy and control over their work, including time off, location and choosing what projects and companies they want to work and for how long.
  • Variety: Contract work provides the opportunity to work on different projects for different companies, which can be more interesting and challenging. Engineers and designers are typically drawn to working on the latest and greatest, coolest stuff!


  • Cost of Benefits: Some contract workers pay for their own healthcare insurance out of pocket to ensure continuity as they move from project to project. However, established contingent staffing firms, like Ursus, do over comparable healthcare insurance and retirement benefits.
  • Project Length Uncertainty: Contingent labor is just that, contingent. Many companies leverage contingent workers to take advantage of the flexibility of scaling headcount up or down quickly without incurring severance or payouts to full-time employees. But again, is any job permanent, safe or guaranteed in this market?
  • Fewer Growth Opportunities: Contract workers may have limited opportunities for growth and development within a specific company compared to full-time employees. However, it is very common companies to convert contingent workers to full-time employees at any time during their engagement or even setting up “try before you buy” engagements with the contractor often referred to as a “contract to hire.”

Full-time employment and contract work both have their pros and cons, and the decision of which to choose ultimately depends on your personal preferences, career goals and the number of job opportunities at any point in time. Job seekers should always explore both options and consider career goals, short- and long-term financial needs, and work-life balance when deciding between full-time employment and contract work. One is not better than the other….just different.

The Silicon Valley Bank Collapse: Why Startups Need to Leverage Contingent Talent Now More Than Ever.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has sent shockwaves throughout the startup community. With down round valuations and full-time layoffs becoming the norm, it’s more important than ever for startup companies to find ways to develop, support, and sell their products while operating on a lean budget.

Traditionally, startups would shirk at the idea of contractors, preferring to hire full time technical and creative talent and ideally those with pristine pedigree from other well-established companies. As of Monday, this operating model may not be realistic as venture firms tighten funding and, in some cases, become more involved, or at least aware of their investments.

Labor costs are typically the single largest cost center for any company, startup, global enterprise, and everything in between. One-way startups can reduce burn rates while still building, supporting, and selling products and services is by leveraging contractors, instead of relying solely on full-time employees. For the uninitiated startup founders, below are some benefits of using contractors and how startups can effectively manage them to ensure success.

Benefits of Using Contractors

⬤ Cost-Effective: One of the most significant benefits of using contractors is the cost savings. Unlike full-time employees, contractors are not entitled to benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. This allows startups to save a considerable amount of money on labor costs.

⬤ Flexibility: Contractors offer startups the flexibility to scale their workforce up or down as needed. This is particularly useful for startups that are just starting out and may not have a clear idea of how many employees they will need in the future or if they need to pull back on resources due to delays in funding or even down rounds. The “try before you buy” model provides the opportunity to evaluate talent in your real-world environment versus via resume, interview, code challenges and references.

⬤ Access to Top Talent: By leveraging contractors, startups can tap into a vast pool of talent. Contractors are often experts in their field and have a wealth of experience that can be invaluable to startups looking to develop new products or services.

⬤ Reduced Legal and Benefits Management: Hiring full-time employees comes with a host of legal and benefit obligations, such as complying with labor laws and providing competitive benefits. By using contractors, startups can avoid many of these legal obligations as they are now managed by the staffing provider who serves as the employee of record.

The recent report by staffing firm Robert Half, found that more than half of US companies plan to add jobs in the first half of 2023 and two-thirds of those polled will leverage contract talent. This is not only a positive sign for the overall U.S. job market, but the fact that companies are increasingly turning to contract workers to meet their staffing needs also indicates a shift towards more flexible and cost-effective solutions in the workforce.

The startup world has changed overnight, those companies that adapt, stay nimble by responding to the new market conditions will prevail while those who continue to run the “old’ playbook may fall behind or even fail.

Eating our own dog food

At Ursus, Inc, we believe in eating our own dog food. We understand the importance of providing our clients the best technical, creative, professional talent possible to enable their digital initiatives. That’s why our clients choose to partner with us! By using external recruiters to find talent, our clients can focus on their core business.

Similarly, finding great talent is not only crucial for our clients, but it is also critical for our own success. That is why we use external recruiters to find sales talent the same way Ursus clients leverage Ursus to find great technical and creative talent. In other words, we eat our own dog food or drink our own champagne, pick your preferred metaphor.

An effective recruitment process is rigorous, and we hold our external recruiter partners to the same high standards that we have for our internal process. We want to ensure that the candidates they present to us are the best of the best. Could we source sales candidates ourselves? Afterall, recruiting is our business! While we are always searching and sourcing on our own, there are three key reasons why we look for help from a handful of great partners.

1) Subject matter expertise: Our team is comprised of technical, creative, and business professional recruiters. Identifying, screening and deep dive vetting is just different. We partner with staffing sales subject matter experts the same way a client looks to us for a data scientist or a UI Visual Designer.

2) Candidate depth and breath: Our partners, who specialize in staffing sales candidates have significantly wider and deeper and deeper reach than we ever could generate on our own.

3) Time: When a recruiting process is done correctly, it takes time; sourcing and outreach, resume review, screening, and screening again, candidate presentation, reference checks, continued feedback to client and candidate, and close…the great candidates have options. How well does your external recruiter represent your culture, your mission, and your goals?

Fortunately, our sales and recruiting partners check all the boxes above which helps us scale and grow faster. By using external recruiters to find sales talent, we can focus on our core business while still finding the best talent available. It is a strategy that has worked for us and one that we will continue to use in the future. Dogfood never tasted so good!

The unfortunate and consequential lost art of the post interview thank you note

Thank You. Two little words. Two very powerful words. We use them a lot in conversation. The art of writing a post interview thank you note, thank you email, heck even the thank you text is being lost.I remember back in the “olden days” – before the Internet – when you interviewed for a job, you followed through with a handwritten thank you letter sent via the postal mail. The idea was to show the people you interviewed with that you were listening and that this job was important to you. Now that we are in an age of instant communication, it’s even easier to do this,yet so often it is a step that is missed.  Spoiler alert: if anyone on my staff interviews a candidate that does not send a thank you note within 48 hours (within 24 or less is even better), it’s an immediate pass!  I can say with 100% confidence I am not alone in this policy.

If you are on board with bringing this back into your processes, and you should be, or want to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers which in the wake of layoffs and more competition on the street is kind of important these days, here are a couple of things to consider when writing the email, handwritten note or both!

  1. Don’t wait! This doesn’t mean write something poorly just to get it out there. Try to send your email within a day of an interview. Everything is still fresh in your mind as well as the interviewer’s. You want them to remember you! If your interview is virtual on Zoom or Teams, write it within the hour!  The hiring manager has you on their mind and what better way to leave a positive impression.  Some managers and recruiters interview up to 6,7,8 people a day, tomorrow you may not be as memorable or even forgotten!
  2. Email notes are fine, texts are pushing it.  Is it really that hard to open a mail client or web mail to write in a more traditional, dare I say formal format?  Text messages can often be clunky, prone to spelling and grammar errors, and are hard to reference or find later.   You have already put in the time to apply and participate in that interview, so take the extra step to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Don’t be lazy, send an email.
  3. Personalize and BE AUTHENTIC. Make sure you point out something specific that you discussed during that interview to help show that you’re listening and engaged. Also, remember that the interviewers will likely come together to discuss their meetings with you. If you send a generic email to everyone you spoke with, it will not come across as genuine. Take the time to personalize each thank you. It is worth it.
  4.  Title the email with “Thank You: Job Title, Interview Date”. I know this part seems impersonal, but remember, the interviewers could be meeting with many candidates. This will remind them of who they met with and when.  They may also put your email in a folder and then have to reference it days later.  Make yourself and your correspondence easy to find! 
  5. Get to the point and CHECK GRAMMAR. Be clear and concise. Just a couple of paragraphs is all you need. Highlight a couple of points from the conversation, common ground where you connected with the interviewer or reference recent company news that you are excited to read about.  Lastly, check spelling and grammar.  With spell check and free tools like Grammarly there is absolutely no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors.  If there are errors, it shows your lack of attention to detail and that you don’t care enough to be thorough.

In what has quickly become a more competitive job market, the little things can make the difference between a job offer or not.  Letting someone know that you appreciate the time they have taken to speak with you with a thoughtful, well-written thank you email can be the differentiator between you and another candidate.

Bracing for impact: Do hiring managers have a plan for the coming market correction?

Is it here already?  Coming next quarter? Next year?  I’m talking about the inevitable and –so say the economic pundits and talking heads–impending recession, market correction, or economic slowdown (pick your favorite moniker). The laws of economics and the historical business cycles, plus market indicators, say some sort of downturn is coming.  

First, a caveat:  if you believe impending economic doom is a relic of the distant past, please reveal your trusted sources of news and economic data. , Perhaps you are intentionally in denial, simply not paying attention or continuing to buy into the all things must go up philosophy. If you read daily news feeds from sources like CrunchBase and VenturePulse there is not a day that goes by without crowning a new “unicorn” (gosh I do loathe that term). And yes, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that last month, the U.S. added more jobs to the economy, and the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low. Consumer spending continued to remain optimistic, and the Fed is anticipated to make another interest rate cut at the end of the month. The economy, despite continued global uncertainty and the threat of ongoing trade wars, remains resilient.    Not to stereotype, but many younger hiring managers and entrepreneurs (read millennials) are still hyper bullish on the near- and long-term market outlook. Ah yes, the benefits of optimistic, blissful youth!   I would love to be wrong; I hope you are all right; and I wish all of you the best. 

But, it’s not just today’s 24/7 news cycle– talk long and hard enough about recession, and perhaps it will eventually happen (“See, I told you!”)–creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of an economic correction. Real economic downturns happen, and they will again.

I’m old…enough.  I’m old enough to have lived through, and survived, the early 2000s bust, and the debt-driven macro-economic collapse of 2008-09, which wasn’t that long ago. Further back, though I was not in the workforce, I do remember the stock market crash of 1987.  But I’m also young enough to remember how, during all three economic downturns, most companies reacted to the news; some by responding in more proactive and measured ways than others. Many, especially in 2008-2009, took the “crash” as opportunity, especially when it came to capturing market share when other companies were bleeding. 

So, for those (old, young, or feeling either way), who do believe we are due or overdue for some choppy economic waters, let’s proceed. To carry forward with the metaphor, it really doesn’t matter if we face a full-fledged economic tsunami or a few bumpy white caps. 

The question we at Ursus ask of our clients, namely our hiring managers, is are you are ready for it?  Or better yet, do you and your company have a plan in place that will guide your response to harsher economic conditions? Riding out a (by nature) indefinite period of macro-economic pain and hoping/waiting for the pain to go away, does not count as a plan.  Hiring managers should start to plan and think ahead and prepare regardless of the impact and severity of the economic downturn. There are options and alternatives to the knee jerk slash, burn and cut to reduce headcount, which is what too many companies do when they have failed to plan ahead.

Now, what to actually do?  I know a coach, who coincidentally happens to work in finance, who is constantly reminding his players about the five P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  This adage is true; in sports, in school, really in any aspect of life, but these precepts also should apply to planning a hiring manager’s human capital strategy in the face of an impending business slowdown. 

Based on our working relationships with hundreds of business leaders and hiring managers, regardless of company size, we recommend that hiring managers implement the “five Ps” as follows: 

  • Model worse and best-case scenarios
    • Take the time to run projections. What percentage rate slowdown necessitates preemptive reduction in force (RIF)? If you do RIF what is the impact to top line productivity and bottom-line cost?
  • Ask yourself the tough questions
    • What key performance indicators will provide your headlight data to put a plan into action before the company is in fact reactive, rather than prepared and proactive? The decision-making process, starting with choosing to focus on the most useful indicators, should be reasoned, not reactive; careful, not capricious. 
  • Stack rank 
    • If you do have a RIF, who can you afford to keep or worse who can you afford to let go?
  • Contractor v Full Time v Human Cloud resource?
    • Full time employee costs include burden (payroll taxes, benefits, pensions). Is there a path to replace full time employees with contractors without sacrificing quality or production? 
    • Do your contracted employees need to be on site, or can you leverage human cloud workforce options from remote locations?
  • Hire now before you lose budget?
    • If there are considerable layoffs in the relevant vertical market, is this an opportunity to hire talent that you may not have been able to during a tighter and more competitive labor market?
    • With the opportunity for previously unavailable talent, can you grow market share while competitors that failed to plan are caught flat footed?

Implementing the Five “P”s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance—while competitors delay can never hurt, and is a worthy exercise, even if you believe sunny economic times will persist for years to come.  Wouldn’t you rather be the leader and the company who is prepared, ready with an existing plan that you can both present to executive management and communicate rapidly to the workforce, rather than the one caught off guard and frantically reacting? 

We can’t predict the timing or depth of the next recession. But we can predict that if, as a hiring manager, you don’t have a business staffing plan that is ready to respond to economic pain, you may be one of the first to feel it.