Winning the Gig Economy with The Hollywood Model

3 Ways to Build Blockbuster Teams with Independent Talent

It’s almost summer — and you know what that means….HIT MOVIES!! What will the creative minds in Hollywood entertain us with next? And more importantly, what color will Jared Leto’s hair be?

Oh how these questions burn for me.

Here’s another one that really gets me:

How does Hollywood consistently crank out box office hits? Apparently, the answer is by pulling together the most sought after talent movie after movie….project after project. It’s called the Hollywood Model, wherein extremely talented people assemble quickly, make magic, then disperse again — free to take on the next project.

For fun, I looked at winning Academy Awards teams for special effects. I saw patterns of talent pulling together for a project and then moving on to the next …

… Paul Franklin and Andrew Lockey working together in 2010 on “Inception,” then again in 2014 on “Interstellar.”

… Robert Legato and Michael Kanfer coming together in 1995 for “Apollo,” then again in 1997 for “Titanic.”

This pattern crosses into awards for best makeup, sound — you name it.

It’s no coincidence that Oscar winners consistently have a roster of talent that has already worked together. Top talent CHOOSES what to work on and who to work with.

They look at a potential project and decide — is this going to be personally fulfilling? Do I want to work with the rest of this team? Will this be another award winning achievement for me?

Can you see this coming from a mile down the red carpet yet?

hollywood and the gig economy

HR should take strategic queues from the Hollywood model.


Because this is how the most sought after independent talent* considers their next opportunity. They know their skills are in high demand.

In fact, according to a recent study by MBO Partners, 83% of these independents say they have either a lot of choice (48%) or some choice (35%) when deciding what projects to work on and with whom to work. Only 17% of independent professionals felt they needed to take what was offered in terms of work assignments.

* I’m talking about professional contractors and creative freelancers here, not Uber drivers.

As fluid teams and project sprints become the recipe for blockbuster innovation, HR professionals must adapt their employer brand story to one that encompasses not only what’s in it for the FTE, but as importantly, what’s in it for the project based talent.

The fact is, by 2020, 50% of the talent pool will be independent, either as freelance gig workers or as contracted professionals. This means that half of your potential talent will be shopping for their next project — not their next JOB (we’ve talked about why this shift to gigs is happening, before).

Here are 3 questions your HR team will need to answer in order to compete for this critical independent talent pool:

Question #1: How can we adapt our employer brand story beyond full-time employment to feature the valuable experiences our projects offer?

To answer this, start by understanding what independent talent values and weave that into the employer brand story. The same study from MBO Partners found that independent talent wants control over their lives and meaningful work:

“When it comes to deciding which clients to work with/for, “Value My Work” came out as very/ somewhat important for 96% of these service professionals.”

In addition to finding meaning, independent professionals crave opportunities to grow their marketable skills — whether that means formal training or growing from exclusive experiences. The very thing that makes them valuable — their knowledge and expertise — makes ongoing learning a requirement, not an option.

Execution Tip:

While finding meaning and value is obviously subjective, HR can start to promote what’s in it for the independent talent by asking current project team members the why behind their work.

Consider video interviewing both internal and external talent at the close of every project, asking them what they loved learning, and what the project experience meant to them. Use those soundbites to rewrite the opportunity in a language that speaks to what independent talent values most. Then add those soundbites as testimonials for your career portal.

Once you’ve got those stories, it’s time to answer the next question:

Question #2: How will we get our new brand story in front of independent talent?

It’s important to promote your project opportunities in places where highly skilled talent actively looks for project work. Not-so-subtle-hint: traditional job boards are not the place.

Badass {insert leading roles here} tune out the noise on larger job boards, preferring to take their project hunt to personal networks and niche job boards.

67% of independent professionals rely on word of mouth/referrals and agency/broker placements for assignments.

Obviously, asking your current talent pool to promote opportunities through their own social networks is a no brainer (hello, employee referrals). However, listing your projects on specialized boards is another excellent opportunity for your brand to get noticed because a huge pain point for independents is pipeline prediction.

Execution Tip:

With pipeline projection, a necessary evil, independent talent looking for work will visit niche job boards that feature current and even future project opportunities. For example, top web developers and designers actively look for projects on premium job boards like Authentic Jobs, Stack Overflow, and Dribbble. Consider posting project opportunities on specialized boards to increase your chances with the top talent you seek.

And the sequel to question 2 is…

Question #3: Once an independent has worked with our team, how will we keep them excited for future projects?

Assuming an independent professional considers their last experience with your organization both positive and valuable, continuing the relationship for future opportunities is all about maintaining your reputation as a client of choice.

To do that, you must stay connected. Feed the independent professional information about ongoing projects at your company and what sharp new skills your team is learning. Even if the project doesn’t speak to them specifically, it keeps your brand relevant, interesting, and top of mind as independents plan their next quarter or year.

Execution Tip:

Use automation tools to send emails, newsletters, and videos, but also, don’t forget to check in personally to find out what their dance card looks like in both the short and long term.

client of choice

Before you know it, independent talent will be longing for a sequel and the opportunity to work with your teams.

Ready for your own Hollywood moments? See all the ways that Breezy HR can help you modernize your recruiting process.

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