What are fractional career opportunities, and how can they benefit you and your business?
If you are looking for job options that offer flexibility and potential for multiple income streams, becoming a fractional professional may be something to consider. Your business can benefit too!
As more and more professionals look for career opportunities that offer a lifestyle with flexibility, the opportunity to control earning potential, and a working environment that provides interesting and rewarding options, fractional hiring may be for you.
This option that once was reserved primarily for academics is now becoming more of a broad-based opportunity for professionals and organizations interested in hiring a qualified individual with expertise but not necessarily committing to a long-term engagement.
Fractional hiring refers to hiring an employee for a "fraction" of the time a typical employee would work. As a fractional professional, you could be hired to work for multiple organizations simultaneously.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand fractional hiring is through its origins. Fractional hiring started in the academic world. Professors often divided their time between teaching students, performing research, writing and publishing papers, consulting on particular projects, and lecturing in the private sector.
Fractional hiring has now expanded outside of the academic world to include professionals with niche, advanced or technical knowledge. Today, startups and established organizations looking for a fresh approach often use fractional hiring to fill skill gaps.
Many startup founders are engineers or developers and lack the business skills to pitch to venture capitalists, create a solid marketing strategy or manage finances. They may use fractional hiring to bring on a CFO, CMO, or COO to help the startup grow successfully.
Fractional workers are typically freelancers or solopreneurs who sell their skills to a company. The business arrangements, often agreed to in a contract, allow workers to determine where and how they spend their time. The Internet, social media and cloud computing means many individuals can work from home and market their skills to employers worldwide.
Fractional employment might be particularly advantageous to individuals who like to craft their schedules, work on various projects, or focus on specific skills. However, individuals who want a guaranteed minimum income each payday are more suited to the structure and assigned hours for a permanent part-time position.
If a part-time worker loses the job, he could be losing his primary source of income; however, a fractional worker would have fallback options even with the loss of one employer. People working part-time or full-time positions could still seek fractional employment opportunities to supplement their income and build their resumes.
Who and what is a "fractional leader," and why would you want to hire one?
Essentially, it's an executive who shares their expertise for a fraction of their time rather than taking on a full time position. Fractional leaders have been serving in human resources, finance, marketing etc.—for years, but they are now becoming common throughout the C-suite and middle management positions.
Fractional professionals can also focus narrowly on crucial initiatives instead of getting sucked into day-to-day office politics or team drama. Fractional executives are there to complete the tasks at hand, offering the benefits of their specialized experience at a fraction of the cost.
1) Fractional leaders won't be able to really "understand" a company.
You may assume that someone coming in from the outside of a company wouldn't have a thorough understanding of the product or service your business offers or the industry it operates in, but fractional leaders aren't supposed to.
Basically, it comes down to the difference between a generalists versus specialists. Companies generally have in-house experts who know the product or service.
Research shows that learning from failure is crucial for becoming an effective leader. People who haven't steered a company through massive challenge or industry disruption will face a steep learning curve when they must take the helm for the first time.
Therefore, it makes more sense to hire someone who's been there before rather than bringing on someone new to your industry. To that end, look to employ fractional leaders with demonstrable leadership experience rather than just technical know-how.
2) Fractional leaders won't be able to make the same impact.
Another misconception is that someone who joins a company temporarily can't make the same impact as someone who is committed long term. However, we all know that time on the job doesn't necessarily equate to success. Experience, expertise, and initiative do—all of which the right fractional leader will possess.
Hiring a fractional leader can also take far less time than recruiting a full-time executive to bring on board, so they can step in almost immediately and quickly start making an impact.
They also help small and midsize companies compete on the same level as their significant competition. It might be challenging to quantify the impact of evening the playing field in this way, but it's not insignificant.
3) Fractional leaders ofter the same broken strategies that aren't working in the first place.
You might assume that fractional leaders will be more inclined to continue with broken strategies because they aren't personally invested enough to make significant changes. But unlike in-house leaders who might be planning their departure more than planning the company's strategy as a result of burnout, fractional leaders arrive refreshed and bring a fresh set of eyes to the challenges at hand.
Having worked within multiple organizations, they know how to plan, execute, and create change.
Fractional executives are prepared to shake things up and push performance positively with each role's new challenges. It doesn't make sense to expect the same team to achieve different results, which is why it pays to bring in outsiders.
While fractional hiring is not completely mainstream, it has gained traction over the past few years. Hybrid working options make the opportunities more readily available, convenient, and desirable for the fractional professional and the companies needing help.
Do you want to explore this option for yourself or your business; or have an experience to share? Comment below and tell us about your industry and areas of expertise.
If you need help restructuring your LinkedIn Profile to position you as a fractional leader, check out our Profile Uplevel options.
The Moving Forward Newsletter is a bi-weekly advice column by Kim Peterson Stone, the CEO of Linkability.us where we give you a peek behind the curtains into what it takes to put together campaigns that help you grow your business and career on LinkedIn and in Real Life.
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