With organisations increasingly choosing to hire freelancers to complete short-term or specialist projects, the office dynamic is changing. Here HR specialist Paul Dunstone explains what you need to know before hiring a freelancer.
1. Research the freelance marketplace: Pricing across freelance marketplaces for a particular service is different to that of your local job seeker website for two main reasons. Firstly because it’s much more competitive, and secondly because you’re tendering out to multiple countries where you may find the value of work is different to that of your native region. Research a median value for work, don’t choose the cheapest contractor, and you’ll be on the right track.
2. Know your budget and stick to it: Once you’ve researched what a particular service is worth, define your budget and stick to it. Just like an auction, sometimes when employers see “shiny” things, they tend to raise their limits. Remember as an employer, you’re holding all the cards, so don’t get swayed by the “rush of the tendering process”.
3. Research your candidates: Never hire without seeing a freelancer’s portfolio of work. You need to know that the service you’re paying for is something you’re likely to receive in return (especially if the contractor asks for a milestone payment upfront). I recommend narrowing your candidate pool down to three really great candidates. From here you can research them more extensively and make your choice.
4. Make sure you’re happy with the communication medium: Communicating effectively with freelancers during a project timeline is vital. Make sure the contractor you hire is happy to communicate with you via a method you’re comfortable with. This might be as simple as email, or it may extend to Skype or phone. Whichever, ensure you’re happy with the central communication channel to be used and frequency over the project timeline.
5. Communication frequency and project milestones: Depending on the length and type of project being completed, you need to ensure you’re happy with the frequency of interaction between yourself and your contractor, and how you’re going to deal with project milestones and scope creep. By clearly outlining your expectations from the start of your project, you limit the likelihood of any nasty surprises.
6. Always have a contract in place: When hiring a freelance contractor, always provide a project agreement that both parties can agree to and sign off on prior to commencing work. Generally a freelance contractor will not have an issue with signing such an agreement. However if you receive resistance and feel the agreement is pretty straight forward, see this as a warning sign and consider whether moving forward is the best option.
7. Hire experienced professionals with a solid track record: Look for contractors who have great reviews and are able to effortlessly provide a service as if it was second nature. A really good contractor should find the work they do enjoyable and easy to accomplish most times. See this as a good sign.
8. Build a base of specialists: When hiring freelancers, you have the option to hire specialists, and this is something I strongly recommend. Contractors who dedicate their career to focusing on a particular skills set are a great option.
9. Diversity is highly valuable: I love dealing with contractors from all over the globe because there is such great diversity in what they bring to projects. Being able to interact with individuals from different backgrounds, who have different experiences and different connections, is a great way to build your organisation. Limiting yourself to your local marketplace is just crazy when there is so much knowledge out there that you could be capturing.
10. Be fair with your pricing and expectations: Even though the market will dictate price to a large extent, you get a lot more back with “honey than vinegar”. By setting a price which is fair, and project timelines which are reasonable, you’re firstly going to attract a better applicant pool, and you’ll definitely increase the likelihood of a better project outcome. Contractors know what’s fair, keep that in mind, and you’ll be amazed what you receive in return.
Paul Dunstone is the Founder and CEO of JobStock.com.
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