So, you’ve decided that you need to outsource a task or get someone on board to help with the workload. You’ve also decided that there are sound reasons for hiring freelancer rather than recruiting an employee. But now you’re stuck; you’ve never done this before. How do you go about it, and how do you ensure that you get someone who is right for the job?
Don’t panic! Our five tips will make hiring freelancers easy.
Look for Recommendations and Relevant Experience
If you know someone you’ve worked with before and your confident they have the right skills, great. If not, you’ll need some other way of recruiting your ideal freelancer.
Ask for referrals or recommendations; read testimonials and scrutinise portfolios. If you’re recruiting from an online freelance marketplace, most will have a system whereby freelancers are graded on their reliability and the quality of their work.
You also need to ensure that the freelancer has experience in the precise kind of work you want them to take on (and the time to take on your project).
Your ideal freelancer is a good communicator who knows when to ask questions and when to use their own initiative. They should respond positively to feedback (providing you give it respectfully and fairly!) and adapt their work accordingly. The very best may even add something to your business with their own ideas and improvements.
Think Quality, Not Quantity
Bear in mind that it can be a false economy to opt for the freelancer with the cheapest rate or quote. As with most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. Freelancers charging higher rates may turn work round more quickly, interpret your requirements more accurately, produce work of a higher standard, require less management and bring their experience to bear on your business, making suggestions for improvement or extension.
Think Contracts, Communication & Clear Expectations
Make your expectations clear and your brief thorough. Establish milestones and what you expect in terms of communication throughout the project. Detail exactly how and when the work should be delivered, whom they answer to and exactly what they are responsible for.
Ensure your freelancer knows when and how to contact you, and whenever possible, take the opportunity to meet face-to-face – even if it’s only when you first hire them. It’s also useful to conduct some of your communication via telephone or even better, a video Skype call or similar.
We humans do much of our communication through tone of voice, body language and facial expressions; when we communicate by email, instant message or text, many of the finer nuances are lost and we risk misunderstandings.
Ensure there is a contract in place, which includes details of the consequences of non-delivery and delay, and refer to this swiftly but politely if a respectful chat can’t resolve the problem.
Establish a Probation Period
If you can, start new freelancers off on smaller, less urgent tasks – but whether this is feasible or not, include a probation period in the contract if you’re planning to hire them for some time. This protects both parties in the event that either feels it’s not a good match.
Bring Your Freelancer in From the Cold
Some employers are concerned that they won’t get to know their freelancers as well as they would employees, particularly if they always work remotely – and employers also worry that freelancers may not have a sense of company loyalty or ‘get’ the company ethos.
The relationship you have with the freelancers you hire will vary greatly depending on how long you hire them for, what you hire them for, where they work, the extent and frequency of contact, and if they work exclusively or predominantly for you. It may be that wishing them a good weekend on a Friday email or dropping in the odd friendly comment is all that’s feasible or required.
However, if they’re an important part of your business and live close enough for it to be feasible, why not ask them into the office every so often? Even if they live some distance away, they may be able to make it in for Christmas drinks or your summer barbeque.
Whether it’s giving them a chance to have their say in a meeting or inviting them out for a team lunch, it will provide an opportunity to put names to faces and establish working relationships, fostering the feeling that you’re working together towards the same goals.
Hopefully, these tips will help to make the process of recruiting and hiring freelancers a more pain-free and pleasant experience. Happy hunting!
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