The recent economic turmoil has made it so that an unusual amount of exceptional talent can now be found to help start or add normally hard to find skills to your business. This is certainly evident when you talk to anyone who advertises to fill a position. What you hear is that there is a 5- to 10-fold increase in applicants compared to filling the same position several years ago. In addition, there is a marked increase in the quality of the people applying for the job.

Lately, I’ve seen startups, and other companies, attempt to take advantage of this talent pool in two other creative ways.

The first is to take advantage of the talent by engaging skill sets on a part-time basis. We’ve all been members of an organization where there is just not enough work for a given position and everyone knows it. Yet, to ensure that the company has access to the needed skill set at the proper level a full-time hire is made. When business is good and talent is scarce, not only is the company forced to make this hire, but it can also afford to make this type of suboptimal decision. However, as business conditions continue to deteriorate these positions come under a higher degree of scrutiny. The option that is most often pursued is the total elimination of the position. While expenses are reduced, the skill set is also lost which may, in the long-term, hurt the competitiveness of the company. However, an alternative today might include the hiring of the needed skill set on a part-time basis, providing the opportunity to gain access to superior talent, but at the same time achieving the objective of reducing expenses.

In addition, I’ve also seen companies attempt to take advantage of the available talent pool by adding skillsets that they normally wouldn’t have access to in an attempt to enhance their product line or improve their product so that they are well positioned when the economy eventually turns around.

The plus side to this is that the labor pool now contains many people who would consider a part-time position when they wouldn’t normally pursue one, making this a win-win proposition.

The other interesting thing that I’ve recently seen is an increase in the number of startups that are looking for talent with the promise of equity. Obviously, there isn’t as much money funding startups these days so entrepreneurs have to get creative. But, on the other hand, I think that there are more people interested in these types of opportunities. If out of work, people are looking to attempt to build something for the future or to build their resume. If they are still employed, but maybe a bit tenuously, people again are looking to develop new skills or to build something for the future.

All in all, I think now is a great time for creative startups and small businesses to find some exceptional talent so that they are in a position to benefit once the economy begins to grow again.