An estimated 60 million Americans will be freelancers by 2020 (40% of the workforce), in part because they seek more ownership of their schedules. Companies that understand this and can offer their employees a sense of autonomy will be well-positioned to retain top talent and save money.

If you are company already with a progressive work environment (we’re clapping our hands in the background), meaning employees have some degree of ownership over when and where they work, then as a hiring manager or business owner, communicating this effectively is important. But it is harder than you may think.

Like it or not, “flexible” is the word most people will use in a keyword search on a traditional job board. The problem is, the search results are very unreliable.

For one, they’ll span the gamut on skill required for a position (a truck driver has a flexible schedule) and will return any description where flexible is mentioned at all (“flexible approach”). And it doesn’t get much better with search terms such as “remote” (“communicate with remote teams”) or “contract” (“you will review contracts for our contractors”).

You might be surprised to know also that even if you have an amazing part time job to offer it will show up with results for jobs that aren’t part time at all (“you’ll manage a team of part time contractors” or “travel part of the time”).

For job seekers, sifting through the results is often extremely time consuming, even when narrowing by industry or expertise or education level — or selecting for “part time” or “contract.”

Yet even if you include “flexible schedule” in your job description, your position is not guaranteed to see the light of day by the candidates you actually want to reach. The point is that it is difficult for candidates to sift through the clutter, and challenging to get your job noticed — and as a result, you’re likely missing out on top talent that simply can’t find you.

So what to do?

1) Every little bit helps. Start describing your culture in your job descriptions and be specific. Go ahead and put “flexible” in there but try “flexible workplace,” “flexible work environment” and add color. What does this mean at your company? What are you open to talking about in an interview? In many cases, particularly when there is no direct contact to reach out to, you’re likely to grab candidates who would otherwise turn away because they see you have taken the time to describe it in the job requisition or on your website.

2) Turn to job listing sites like ours where high quality candidates are searching for flexible work environments and expect that the companies that we work with are serious. For employers, there is less competition and more direct access to candidates. We can help tell your story. In short, we give you more! (Learn more.)

3) Think about ways to begin shifting your culture. Check out this list of considerations to help spark the conversation and generate ideas. You may be more flexible than you realize, or the list may spark conversations to get you headed in the right direction.

Follow us on Twitter: @maybrooksjobs

Photo credit to: #481347325 /