So you’ve decided you are going to outsource work for some aspects of your business and now you have the task of finding the perfect person to execute your vision. In other words, you need the right person to bring to life what you have in your head.
Perhaps you’re not wanting to hire someone full-time just yet because you want to make sure that you know what you’re looking for and what to expect from the position that you are going to fill. Before you go all in, you want to make sure you understand what you need to expect from this particular role also so that by the time you find that person who can do it, the workflow will flow a lot easier.
Hiring a freelancer is great for a few reasons. Firstly, you get to hire someone with the right skillset without having to take on the full expense of having that person fulltime. If you are a recent startup, this will be ideal for the business’ cashflow situation too. Plus, freelancers work from their own locations so if you have not yet acquired your office space it’s a great way to get the work done without having to have the person come into your space to do it.
What’s also great about freelancers is that everyone is different. So if you are looking to change things up or keep things fresh then a new touch on each project can be just what you need. Just make sure you are cool with making each freelancer understand the vision of your company as well giving them as much to go on as possible.
So where do you start when wanting to hire the perfect freelancer for you?
Because let’s face it, it can sometimes feel overwhelming.
But that’s where this guide comes in and why you’re essentially here - to make sure that finding the perfect freelancer is not only easy but helps you achieve your objective or project you are working on.
So let’s get started.
1. Write down what it is you want & expect
This is an important step because it helps you bring your thoughts together. It also makes things clear from the start and helps give you an idea if you are looking for a single freelancer or a few different people with different skillsets. You can’t expect someone to be able to do it all or else you’d be defeating the purpose of making use of different skill sets of different people.
Next thing you want to write down is what you expect. This can be the job description itself, how experienced you want the person to be what education they need to have or any other prerequisites you expect from candidates. The clearer you are from the start, the less chance there is for any confusion, misunderstandings or issues down the line. If you want the person to have at least 5 years experience in a specific niche, write it down. Be as specific as you can. It might seem painful but this can be what helps you find the right people and what helps maintain a great, professional working relationship.
Then you can also describe the role that the person needs to fill as simple as possible. Think of it like this: if someone had to ask you off the cuff what you need, how would you explain it as simply as possible for the person to understand.
This is not about keeping things short but rather keeping them simple and uncomplicated. Remember, simpler is easier to understand and leaves less room for confusion.
2. Do your own HR research
One thing you never do is go in with your eyes closed because you think ‘it’s easy to hire a freelancer’. For starters, you want to make sure you are getting someone who does what they say they do, the way they say they do it.
We’re not talking about going full-on private detective on them but make sure you are asking the right questions. The reason is that there are a lot of people out there who can act dishonest and make this process a small nightmare. Does the person claim to be able to do something specific? Ask for examples of their work, client testimonials or anything that will help to show you they are ready to deliver.
What’s great about freelancing websites is that they usually have their own vetting process in place to ensure that no unscrupulous behavior takes place. But just to be sure, inquire if they do in fact pre-qualify freelancers or what their checks are.
You want to be 100% sure that you are getting what you pay for.
3. Choose where you are going to source talent from
Here’s where you need to decide how you are going to look for and find the right person or people. There are a lot of ways of doing this from using social networking sites to dedicated freelance hiring platforms. Be sure to understand how much things will cost you if you choose to go through the freelancing sites as there is usually feels involved but do keep in mind that you may be getting much better candidates than what you would get on something like a social networking site.
Keep in mind also that freelance sites, as mentioned before, have a way of vetting people to make sure candidates are credible. If they don’t do this, you need to ask why and if there is a client review section that proves the candidates on the site are legit and reliable.
A lot of sites also have a system in place that rates candidates so that the candidates on the sites are all current and credible. After all, you are likely hiring someone from across the world and not about to be seeing them any time soon, so you want to be sure the person you choose is reliable.
At the same time, you need to be ready to hire someone after going this length to find someone. If you are not sure this exercise is going to end with you hiring a freelancer, perhaps it’s not the right time to be looking because the people on these sites are generally making a living from it and just like you don’t want to have your time wasted, neither would the freelancer.
4. Interview your selections
The one thing you need to remember here above everything else is to be as prepared as possible. Again, this process needs to be mutually beneficial for both you and the candidate so agreeing to get onto a video call with someone only to not know what questions to ask or appear unsure, will look a bit awkward.
This process can make people nervous and that is normal. Remember point 1 where you outlined what you want from the freelancer, now’s the time to elaborate on all of that.
Note down what the position will entail, what you expect from the person, what you need done and be sure that you understand their process of working. If the project relies on you reviewing their work and approval given, be clear as to how many reviews you are entitled to the fee that will be paid. Agree on the fee structuring whether it is hourly based or not.
Above everything else, make sure both you and the candidate understands what is expected because this is the most important aspect.
Take this moment to give a bit of background on yourself and your company, where you’ve been, what you want to achieve, your objectives, whether this has the potential to turn into a longer-term thing. Ask as many questions as you want to and allow the person to do the same.
After all, this is the part of the process which is going to help you decide if you are going to hire this person or not.
Also, think about how well you and the person gets along. Are they easy to understand, do you feel anxious communicating yourself to them? This will play a big role in how well you are able to work together with them so getting a good rapport with them will matter.
5. Make your choice on the candidate and get paperwork sorted
Once you’ve chosen the right person for the job, you will no doubt let them know so that you can get started as soon as possible.
Before you jump into briefing them though, be sure to take care of the admin part of the process.
This is where you both sign a document or agreement of some kind stating what each person's expectations are and outlines the fine print of the job. If it is hourly payment, how will it be measured and what is the fee?
Is there a deadline and what happens in the event of missed deadlines.
Unfortunately gone are the days where you can simply take someone at their word and you’d rather go through the hassle and headache of getting all the finer details agreed upon from the start so that neither person has any chance to say otherwise down the line.
Make sure there is provision for any disagreements too.
6. Training the candidate & briefing
You’ll want to ensure that any work the freelancer does for your company is in line with the standard you expect so you need to give the person the chance to learn these things. If you have any company guidelines or examples of past work, you should share this with them so they can accustom themselves.
Similarly, this gives them the chance to ask any questions they have before the job gets started so that no time is wasted.
This is also the part where you are likely going to brief them on what you want to be done.
Keep in mind the following:
You need to help the person understand what it is you wish to achieve which means giving them as much information for them to work with as possible;
Give detailed briefs and avoid sending incomplete ones that you say “we’ll add it in later”;
Give the person the chance to ask as many questions pertaining to the job as they need, this eliminates any confusion and will help get the work done on time;
Supply them with everything they need to complete the work from the beginning;
Avoid going back and forth by giving too little info, this wastes time and can create false expectations;
Make sure that you and the person are on the same page from the start, confusion will be unavoidable if you fail to communicate certain project-specific details.
7. Get started
Once everything is in place and you’ve briefed them and everyone is on the same page, the work will begin.
If you want to make sure the work gets a good start, set up mini-reviews along the way to make sure they are completing the work as per your expectations. This also helps guide them to know if they need to adjust how they work or adjust themselves more to your specific project.
Think about it as a fine-tuning process so that no time is wasted if the person still has any misunderstandings. The last thing you want is someone completing the project only to find out they have done it wrong and the deadline is up.
You don’t want them to be looking to you for payment because the work was completed and you are not ready to pay because you are not happy.
Keep the lines of communication open and maintain them well.
Don’t simply assume anything because this is the start of all misunderstandings. Plus the more you communicate, the better you will understand each other and the faster work can be completed.