Hiring the Right Freelancer for Your Project and Team
The age of the freelancer is upon us! Never before have business owners of all sizes had access to so much talent on a flexible and as-needed basis. In case you are new to hiring talent, a freelancer is someone who specializes in specific skills such as marketing, writing, design, project management, web development, and more, but unlike an employee, you can hire them on an as needed basis. For example, you can hire a freelance developer to set up your website. Once they complete the project, your relationship with them is over until you need their services again.
When hiring talent, this option is a game changer for small business owners. For many, you may be used to handling the above-mentioned functions yourself. As you grow, you find yourself needing to bring on someone with more expertise. However, not every situation warrants hiring a full-time employee and all the costs that come with it. A freelancer will supply you with the skills you need and will fit into most budgets.
Luckily, it has become increasingly easier to find freelancers. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr have become platforms that connect freelancers with businesses just like yours. They divide the entire pool of talent up and allow you to search by parameters such as specialty, price, experience, and duration of project. However, finding freelancers is the easy part. The key is to understand how to properly vet and select the one that is right for you and your team.
Meet with Your Team
If your company employs team members of any kind, you want to make sure they are consulted before you bring in someone new. Even though this person will only be around for a limited amount of time, they will still be interacting with your team. The last thing you want is someone with a bad attitude or wrong skillset to interrupt the culture and dynamic you have built. Also, while the initial project might be short, it would be ideal if you could call this person back for your future needs.
At the very least, you want to have a sit-down meeting with those who will interact with and benefit from the freelancer. What type of person do they think you should hire? Do they need to be able to adapt to changing deadlines? Is there a software program or tool they should be familiar with? They may have experience in working with freelancers and be able to advise on what to ask about and look for when interviewing.
Outline the Project
It is important that you are crystal clear on what project you want your freelancer to begin with. For example, you may decide that you need marketing help and that a freelancer would be ideal for a few hours a week. That is a good start but you have to identify what type of marketing they will be working on such as social media, content creation, e-mail, or paid advertising. This will be crucial when you are reviewing resumes and looking at past experience.
You should consult with your team about how the freelancer’s work is going to align with their current strategy. For example, if your team has a social media strategy geared toward teenagers, it’s important that you look for a candidate who has written social copy for a similar audience. Also look to your team to supply you with a timeline for how long you will need the freelancer. Will certain sections of the project require more time than others? These are important factors to discuss upfront to avoid confusion and issues down the road.
Interview with Key People
Even if you are the final approver, the interview process must include those who will work directly with the freelancer. They will have a better feel for the project and what skills are needed. It is also important that you confirm there are no personality clashes. As we have all seen before, some people do not work well together for a variety of reasons. Including multiple people in the interview process helps to avoid future problems.
The first interview should be conducted on the phone. This is where you will confirm with the freelancer regarding their availability and rate. At times, the conversation will end here because the both sides cannot agree on these two terms. Once you get past this, you can schedule a meeting with yourself and anyone else you deem relevant. Ideally, you want to keep the number of people from your team in an interview down to two or three to avoid overwhelming the candidate.
Review Past Work
While getting along with your team is key, being able to prove they have done the work you are hiring them for is an absolute must. Unlike a full-time employee, you are not investing in their long-term progress. With an employee, you may be more inclined to give them an opportunity to build up their skills. With a freelancer, they must be able to hit the ground running on day one. This is why a professional portfolio with samples of past work is so important.
You may want to pass this part of the process off to your team members. They may know what they are looking for before you do. For example, you may know you want your website redone but not what technical work and skills go into it. However, your team will be able to look at a past website and know right away if the freelancer has what it takes. Remember, there is nothing wrong with having a high standard for judging past work.
The last step in this process is reaching out to past references. This will allow you to independently confirm several things: first, how reliable the freelancer is on delivering quality work on time. Second, how well they fit in with different teams. Lastly, they can tell you if they plan on hiring them again for future projects. If you are able to confirm all of this with one or two past clients, you can feel confident that you will have a similar experience.
Hiring a freelancer might be the next logical step in your hiring process. However, it is key to treat it with as much respect and importance as you would any other hire. This individual will be working with your team and on your brand. By following the advice laid out here, you can feel confident that you will find, hire, and possibly retain a high quality freelancer that will help push your brand forward.
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