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16 December 2016

2017 : Bring on The Rooster

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What a year we leave behind. Around us, the Year of the Monkey has, overall, not been playful – many are now left racked with uncertainty on both a local and global level. However, looking forward there is hope. We know this because have looked closer to home at what we know in order to predict behaviour and growth in the freelance market as we head into 2017. Should those steps into the future be cautious or bold? As we move forward, we celebrate the characteristics of the Rooster as they fall in line with our top candidates: observant, hard-working, courageous, talented and resourceful. We spoke to f1 clients and candidates in order to find out the lay of the land as we turn into a new year, with a confident renewed spirit and a sense of empowered positivity.

With UK revenue from the Creative Industries topping £71Bn and the amount of permanent positions reaching just over 2 million, some will be surprised to learn that there has been a rise in demand for freelancers within the marketing & communications sector of an impressive 36%. The Contracts and Freelance division at f1 was born out of this recognition of an upward trend in the market. Since launching earlier this year, we have regularly stopped to take stock and analyse behaviours in order to predict trends moving forwards. As we close the year with a buoyant and determined freelance market, we are able to share that we have identified 3 different dominant tribes of candidates. What is interesting is the marked difference in these tribes, and the reasons and motivations as to why they are not seeking permanent roles:


 1) The Ultimate Goal Generation (UGG):

The very ambitious younger generation or “Millennials” seem to have a fragmented series of small goals stretched out over a longer period of time to achieve their ultimate goal.  This ambition could be anything from CEO of a PR agency to CMO of a brand.


With the reality of getting onto the housing ladder seeming ever more elusive and the vast breadth of career choices available to this generation, the knock on effect seems to be that they are not able to make the move to “settling down” as early in their careers as previous generations. Instead they decide at an early age to grow their skill set as much as they can before they have too many financial responsibilities. These candidates contract at agencies or brands to gain as much experience from different organisations.

A ‘UGG’ candidate told us,

“I began freelancing as I’d always been in the same large, traditional agencies and wanted to broaden my skills and experience different working environments. Freelancing has definitely helped me achieve this and I feel my skill set is much broader and more integrated than it was previously. I also really enjoy having the choice of moving on to a change of scene and a new challenge when I feel the time is right”


2) The Explorers:

The career freelancers who enjoy working for a number of months on different & exciting projects before travelling the world exploring new cultures and working abroad.  These are the younger generation who may choose to spend their potential house deposit on broadening their world knowledge, seeing the University of Life as ultimately giving them more of a rounded grounding for their future adulthood. They are professionally slick and are faultlessly professional at delivering fixed term contracts of any given length.  In the Explorers, we frequently find experts at hitting the ground running, jumping into new contracts and presenting great work efficiently & effectively.




3) Generation X:

Now aged between 34 and 53 (children of the baby boomers) who are consummate professionals with a strong track record in the sector  They have spent a number of years at organisations building their careers and knowledge and are now contracting  at senior level.  Often these candidates have already worked at senior level either agency or client-side and are looking to ‘deliver the goods’ without getting wrapped up or distracted in the running of the business.



All three types of candidates are mindfully rejecting the current wave of uncertainty by taking ownership of their futures and controlling both their destiny and their income through contracting. These people are often able to bring in new, diverse perspectives and thinking to organisations and should not be undervalued or perceived as ‘throw-away’ or ‘the temp’. We know that in 2017, marketing and communications teams will continue to scratch their heads about re-thinking the agency model: Is it integrated or specialist? Do we use external agencies or create our own in-house agency? Should we hire a permanent team or keep a small permanent hub and hire freelancers when we need them? Inevitably there is no right or wrong, but there are trends and whilst these don’t dictate the market, they do feed and guide behaviours.

Simply by continuing to have meaningful conversations with our candidates and our clients, we are able to sense the next wave – so what’s new for 2017 and will The Rooster be our guide? We sense that those very qualities of being hard-working, observant, courageous, talented and resourceful are the very qualities that – coupled with a DIY spirit and culture – will see talented individuals thrive. Home working will become more & more popular in the marcoms sector in response to talent pools being more diverse, and agile/flexible working will continue to grow as a way of employment. We predict also that numbers of freelancers / contractors will continue to rise. As such, we will not only be using hot desking as a term for moving around the office but eventually to describe how we move our skill set to different organisations. If you are a talented, experienced and confident contractor, the power lies in your hands. Strong Marketing and Communications people realise that reputation is everything – as such the wise freelancer will work on building a slick personal profile that not only proceeds them but that will be able to ensure solid blocks of work that fit around a chosen lifestyle, regardless of age or career stage. 2017 may look like a world venturing into a sea of uncertainty to some, but don’t let it fool you. It is also the year of personal power, of doing it yourself and taking control of your own income. Roosters are happiest when surrounded by others – it’s not a solo world, but by working cleverly and collaboratively, the freelance contractor will be able to surround themselves with others but on their own terms. What could be more empowering?

Contact Luke Mattingly –