How the right software can help small businesses take advantage of the gig economy

Hiring staff can help small business owners focus on the future vs. the day-to-day, but the business need might not call for a part-time or full-time hire. Gig workers could be a great solution. And with the right HR software support, onboarding gig workers is a snap.

What is the gig economy?

The term “gig economy” has gotten a lot of air time in the wake of the post-pandemic hiring crisis. But what exactly is it? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines gig work as earning income by providing on-demand work, services or goods, often through a digital platform like an app or website. Simply, it’s the area of the job market that’s made up of short-term and flexible freelance, contract and temporary jobs.

No matter the app or platform, the concept of gig work is the same. Independent workers take on-demand flexible work arrangements for pay. The jobs could be anything from building a website, delivering groceries, dog walking or data analysis. Gig workers find these roles on apps and online platforms listing projects. People may take on gig work as a part-time side hustle, or they may be full-time freelance contingent workers or independent contractors taking on many gigs for their entire income.

Male gig worker looking out the window of a white van

Why would small businesses look to the gig economy for talent?

Entrepreneurs can gain access to skilled workers ready, willing and able to take on work without expecting full-time employment. Businesses can add more agility and flexibility to their budgets (while keeping an eye on profit margins) to staff up or down without carrying the overhead of traditional employees. Using a team of trusted freelancers can help businesses access talent exactly when needed vs. taking on headcount and not having enough work for employees during slow seasons.

Why recruiting gig workers can be troublesome

Any business owner can tell you that quality employees often take time to develop and hit their stride in a role. Typically, this isn’t a problem, as employees are a long-term investment and a training period is expected and prepared for.

Taking on independent contractors can be seen as a bit of a gamble. Why? Because businesses often bring them on for special projects or a busy season, often involving a time crunch. The contractor might not have the time to acclimate to a business and may not hit that aforementioned stride until their contract is almost up.

Icon of a pay slip for a person

To get gig workers onboarded and succeeding ASAP, employers need to:

  • Find and hire quality contractors (quickly) who can perform the job from the onset of hiring, or
  • Be able to train contingent workers within a limited timeframe

How recruitment software can help

Recruiting software helps simplify the many tasks involved with hiring new employees. It often uses machine learning algorithms to help in the search, allowing those with relevant skills to come to the forefront, making them immediately desirable for employers with no time to weed through so-so applicants. However, time savings is just one bonus of taking advantage of recruitment software.

Symbol of a magnifying glass searching out the best candidate for a position

Here are some tasks that recruitment software can do for businesses:

  • Search for and attract potential candidates
  • Present job expectations, duties and necessary training
  • Screen applications
  • Host collaboration between a hiring team
  • Track, organize and update the statuses of candidates
  • Send out job offers

So how does this software transfer over to finding and hiring contingent workers? Recruiting software can automate and streamline the more mundane and tedious tasks of hiring contingent employees, so managers have more time to assess prospective hires thoroughly. With the time saved, they’ll be able to more quickly get a contractor trained and ready to work.

With contingent hiring, every moment counts, so having modern recruitment software to help free up time and complete tasks in the background can be crucial to making the right hires.

How candidate relationship management (CRM) tools can help hire gig workers

CRM software can assist your clients in constructing a talent pool to assess the best candidates.

A computer screen with a human on it as an icon

Specifically, CRM can perform and automate these tasks:

  • Host virtual career fairs
  • Take advantage of robust AI for talent acquisition
  • Perform email and text campaigns
  • Host interviews and allow prospective hires to leave video messages detailing their resume

And in regards to hiring contingent employees, CRM makes it easy to:

  • Keep previous employees’ hiring profiles and contact information should the business owner want to rehire again for projects or seasonal work
  • Create detailed job profiles that increase the likelihood that potential hires are qualified and ready to perform upon signing on

How applicant tracking solutions (ATS) can help

ATS is another software that can be useful in making recruitment software especially applicable to contingent hiring.

a search icon with a magnifying glass for a specific individual

ATS software can:

  • Seek and retain candidates globally: This is especially useful for hiring workers for short-term projects, as many independent contractors work online
  • Identify and prevent bottlenecking: Bottlenecking happens with too many applicants, making it harder to find quality applicants
Two male employees smiling at an open laptop

Contingent workforce management software

So far, we’ve discussed software dedicated to recruiting part-time and full-time employees that have tools to hire independent contractors and fill seasonal positions. However, there is recruitment software explicitly made for hiring contingent workers.
It can:

  • Attract and retain quality contract workers, notifying the employer and previous hires of new job postings that would be a good fit or is within their skill level and availability
  • Quickly find applicants for challenging-to-fill positions
  • Retain profiles of all contingent workers in easy-to-navigate spreadsheets
  • Allow employers to create detailed project profiles that contractors can apply for
  • Allow contractors to create profiles detailing their skills, availability and compensation conditions
  • Take advantage of social media to create advertising campaigns and find applicants

Schedule seasonal work and projects

Modern recruiting software allows your clients to stay ahead of their busy season. They can create open positions and project profiles ahead of time and set up a schedule for the when they’re made available for applicants and when they’re no longer needed. For businesses needing routine seasonal staffing, your clients can make position profiles and reuse them automatically every year after making small changes and updates.

Streamline data storage

Recruitment software keeps your clients from sifting through boxes of applications and employee papers. They can stop worrying about losing files, securing data or missing essential info to make decisions.

These programs keep data secure, accessible and user-friendly so your client doesn’t waste time playing catch-up. Additionally, having all pertinent information localized and easily accessible will increase collaboration between your client and their prospective gig worker, allowing everyone to be updated and on the same page.

Improve candidate experience

Recruiting software allows customization to boost applicant morale and excite contractors about working with your clients. Simple cosmetic changes like using the company’s brand colors and logo on the homepage of position profiles can go a long way in creating interest and respect from applicants.

And, of course, including links to the business’ website or mission statement on job postings can also promote a sense of pride and encourage applicants to take their applications seriously.

The recruitment experience is the first impression of a business. Your clients can reel in quality contractors by making them feel like a part of the team. When contract workers are proud to work with a company, they’re more likely to work with them again.

Create cohesiveness

One of the most significant benefits of recruiting software for your clients is its ability to seamlessly and securely merge payroll, HR and managerial tasks. The software updates employee information securely and quickly instead of relying on updates by hand or through risky data transfers.

For example, the faster payroll can access a new contract worker's tax information with a W-9 form, the sooner they can keep track of their compensation to send that employee a 1099 form at the end of the year.

Similarly, the sooner management can get the gig worker’s paperwork and get through the hiring process, the sooner the contractor can begin work.

Food delivery worker on a bike with ain insulated backpack

Recruiting software can help identify gig workers

Recruitment software isn’t made ineffective due to contingent hiring needs. On the contrary, recruitment software can be an effective and crucial tool in finding quality contractors and matching them with specific and time-sensitive positions or projects.

Furthermore, recruiting software automates tedious and time-consuming tasks that the hiring process produces. For employers, every hour counts when it comes to finding talent to fulfill urgent tasks. For independent contractors, every hour is also precious, as every hour wasted in being unable to apply for positions is a lost billable hour they’ll never get back.

In today’s modern workforce, potential employees (especially independent contractors) have started relying on hiring software and online databases to find jobs. Therefore, it’s in every business’ best interest to meet these applicants where they’re at and use recruitment solutions to make the hiring process as streamlined as possible.

Make it easy for clients to bring on gig workers

Heartland Payroll+ is a cloud-based payroll and HR software suite built specifically with small to mid-sized businesses in mind. It’s the perfect solution for owners who need intuitive hire-to-retire tools to better manage their people.

Flexible and simple to use, Heartland Payroll+ integrates payroll, hiring, time tracking and HR to automate and streamline back-office tasks that can save your clients precious time and money. Reach out anytime to learn more about how Payroll+ could benefit your clients.

Hillary Mokris


Hillary is a copywriter at Global Payments Integrated, a Global Payments company. Before diving into the payments field, she spent several years developing marketing copy for big-box retailers, small businesses, and nonprofits. In her downtime, you can find her creating things by hand between sips of coffee.

Hillary Mokris headshot