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Hiring freelancers in the oil & gas sector is hard. These M’sians fix that with a link.

“Every 45 to 60 days when a freelancer comes back from an oil rig or vessel, he has to update his CV and email it to his entire contact list accompanied by his availability.” 

“If for whatever reason his availability changes, he has to send out another round of emails. But imagine if he just had to update his app one time, and everyone he sent his personalised link to could see that change in real-time,” shared Rowan Pearce, the founder of KontactApp, with Vulcan Post. 

This link feature is one that helps KontactApp stand out from other freelancer jobseeking sites, but more on that later. Like in other industries, working as a freelancer in the oil and gas (O&G) sector has its pain points—most notably, availability. 

As someone with 15 years of experience in O&G himself, Rowan knew firsthand that trying to match the company project’s start date with the jobseeker’s availability can be incredibly labour-intensive.

Some companies still use Excel to track talents

There are a variety of local sites that aim to match freelancers to companies, with some examples being Qwork and GoGet. Globally, the gig economy is seeing continuous growth, with the number of gig workers in Malaysia alone being about 4 million.

The sector presents a lot of opportunities for service providers to offer better solutions for hiring gig workers, with even LinkedIn joining the fray with its new product, Marketplaces

But for freelancers and hiring managers in O&G, the process is a little more complicated. “The temporary nature of work in the industry (which can last from a few days to 12 months), specialised skills by job type, and the tendency to work for multiple operators across multiple geographies on very short notice, creates a complex job search ecosystem,” Rowan explained. 

Using keywords to best connect hirers and freelancers / Image Credit: KontactApp

A platform like LinkedIn wasn’t designed with the contract workforce in mind, he believes, and you can’t just hire someone within a 3-day notice on the platform, which is something that happens in O&G.

Each time a company needs a freelancer (for some, this is a weekly process), they’d have to call and email dozens of talents whom they know could do the job, trying to just find the one who is available to do it. “The more organised companies try to track freelancers with an Excel spreadsheet, but freelancer availability is generally outdated after 7 days,” Rowan added.

Even expensive recruitment fees didn’t drive change

Because of how arduous the process is, some O&G companies would resort to outsourcing this job with recruitment companies.

According to Rowan, current industry fees charged by recruitment companies are around US$1,000 per month for one freelancer. So if a recruitment company supplies five freelancers for a month, they’ll charge a fee of US$5,000. While the cost is quite high, there’s a reason why it still isn’t incentivising change. 

Since O&G has historically been a wealthy industry, recruitment in this sector can be lucrative as many hiring parties are willing to pay recruiters a lot to find someone who can get the job done.

“With falling oil prices over the past few years, every procurement cost is now being scrutinised. But don’t forget: this is a very old industry, where changes to processes and procurement or even the status quo take time and are often met with resistance,” Rowan shared. But to him, the cost of sourcing that workforce needs to change drastically as much as it needs to become more efficient. 

Hence on KontactApp, SMEs who hire under 5 freelancers a year won’t be paying anything, whereas active hirers will pay a subscription of US$360 (approx. RM1,525) per year.

Not trying to be a recruitment agency

One thing Rowan wanted to make clear about KontactApp’s goals was that they don’t intend to become a recruitment company, but rather a sourcing platform for freelancers to find companies and vice versa. When a company finds a fitting candidate to hire, all hiring will be done off the platform. 

If you’ve signed up for other jobseeking platforms, the overall signup process for KontactApp carries no surprises. What’s different, however, is the aforementioned link feature.

Once you’ve created a profile, you can generate a link where your contact number, email address, availability period, CV, skills, and more, can be accessed by anyone who gets your link.

It’s like sharing your social media account / Image Credit: KontactApp

The advantage of the link is that you can share it around quickly with people you know, and it’s a personal page that can be updated ASAP with the changes shown to your network in real-time. Whoever receives your link doesn’t need a KontactApp account themselves, since the hiring is meant to occur off the site, as mentioned earlier.

Users would simply have to be careful not to share this link in public networks if they don’t want their personal information to be spread around so easily.

To help freelancers gauge potential jobs, the app will notify them if they’ve been shortlisted or if their profiles had been viewed by a company, so can prepare for a potential phone call. On the employer’s end, they can see the exact availability of every freelancer and when they last updated their availability. 

Currently, KontactApp has about 200 companies on the platform, and is observing a 10% week-on-week growth rate of freelancers onboarding the app.

Rowan shared that they’re coming out with new features every month to further improve user experience. At the time of our interview, he’d shared that by August 2021 they wanted to offer freelancers the ability to create timesheets and invoices on the app, as well as segregate a part of the platform for companies to manage their own staff.

A quick check shows that it doesn’t seem like these features have been rolled out yet, but the team is still active in providing incremental updates to the app on Google Play and Apple App Store.

  • You can learn more about KontactApp here.
  • You can read more jobseeking-related articles we’ve written here.  

Featured Image Credit: Rowan Pearce, founder and CEO of KontactApp

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