Tapping the well of talent

Tapping the well of talent

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Contributors:

Emily Bednarz

Pictured: Glen Swann, Chief Operating Officer, and Sammy Davis, Founder and CEO, of the well creative consultants (Image Credit: Chris Geworsky).

In 2014, Sammy Davis drew up a wish list and turned it into a business.

His wish list was for modern day marketing and technical team leaders. It was about creating accountability in the online marketplace, highlighting the human element in the search for talent, and the next evolutionary step in what we know as the ‘gig economy.’ By 2020, The Well Creative Consultants has expanded across Canada, with localized services now offered in Halifax, the GTA, Calgary, and Vancouver.

The Well Creative Consultants connects clients to talent, using their curated roster of creative and technical professionals. “We consider ourselves the human-centered digital marketplace for marketing, advertising, communications, and technology talents,” says Davis. “We created a model that has embedded flexibility, price benefits, and extended accountabilities — which are especially sought after right now.”

Getting noticed in the freelance market

If you are (or are looking for) a freelancer, you might be familiar with online marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork. These marketplaces allow freelancers to create free profiles advertising their services — from editing, to web design, to market research.

The Well stands apart from these options in a few ways. “One of the biggest shortcomings of the marketplace world is that it's predicated on the idea that the person making the order knows what to order,” says Davis. “It’s predicated on the idea that the tags and buzzwords the marketplaces use have the same meaning for the person making the order.” Davis provides an example: visit an online marketplace, search for “brand,” and check out the variety of results. “People have all kinds of ideas about what ‘brand’ is,” says Davis. “You need to work with a person to decipher what it means to you.”

The Well brings a human-centered focus into the mix. “In our process, we call it our ‘free concierge service,’ we put our experience as staff into helping people decipher what to do next and who to work with,” says Davis. “We create the pairing, making sure that all the key financial components are beneficial to both the client and the talent. We've become a freelancer or consultant whisperer of sorts.”

Davis’ team has found success in this bespoke process, for everything from $200 jobs to $50,000 campaigns, and turnaround can be as quick as twelve hours to create a match. “We look at everything from skillset, to partnerships, to expectations, to background, to personality,” says Davis. “We take people past the idea of the portfolio and keyword matching, and we're constantly curating our roster.”

Highlighting the human element

On the talent side, creative and technical professionals need to apply to be included on the roster. “We have to approve membership into The Well,” says Davis. “No one can just ‘sign up’ with us.” Davis’ team runs through a number of vetting protocols, considering everything from reputation, to background, to skillset. “We look at the human first, not at how good your portfolio is,” says Davis. “Is there trust there? What contracts did you have in the past year? How many did you fulfill to the end? How many were cut short? How many were cut short in a good way, and how many were cut short in a bad way?”

Although the human element is essential to their approach, it would be a mistake to think that technology has no role to play at The Well. “Other marketplaces out there have shortcomings in their over-reliance on technology, or the technology being in the wrong place and being asked to do the wrong thing,” says Davis. “But just because we're human-centered doesn't mean we don't use technology. We're human-centered and supported by technology, as opposed to technology-first. It's not one or the other — it’s both. The two are symbiotic.”

Since The Well opened in 2014, the labour market, and particularly the freelance or ‘gig’ economy, has certainly changed. Davis says that up until 2018, “the evolution of the gig” required a lot of explanation. “It was on the forefront, and our market in Halifax might not have been seeing it, but it was there,” says Davis. “As soon as the pandemic hit, I didn't have to have those conversations anymore. People now understand right away.”

Redefining the gig economy

Davis doesn’t think of The Well as fitting squarely within the gig economy. “But there's research that backs up what's happened with us,” he says. “The number one segment of growth in the gig economy is knowledge-based and creative industries, and that's given rise to this evolution. It’s people building a gig-based business out of a career of experience.”

As for the future of gig work? Davis believes a shift in the workforce is inevitable. “A recent case study suggests that there will be more gig workers than full-time workers in the US by 2027,” he says. “I think the same will be said for Canada — we can already see that people are leaving full-time positions, and not because of salary. There's a whole new playbook that HR is having difficulty keeping up with. People are now negotiating on everything from lifestyle to the hours in the day they are committing to.”

The growth in the freelancing sector is a natural motivation for Davis. “It's really easy to stay motivated when you know you're solving major issues for folks. It's easy to get energized by that kind of stuff for my talent team.” These talent teams have created success stories across Canada, but Davis isn’t looking for The Well to take credit. “Our whole idea is about making that strong match, connection, and recommendation. We put the right people in the right place to do the work,” he says. “We know these people, so we know who to recommend where — and why.”

Visit The Well Creative Consultants at:

gotothewell.ca

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