Startups often cannot afford, or cannot commit to full-time employees. Usually there is not enough steady income to warrant full-timers. Freelancers might be the answer. Fortunately, the uncertain job market and various technological advancements have encouraged and enabled many professionals to work part-time, or to take on side projects on top of their regular jobs to earn additional income.
You can hire freelancers for just about anything – to man an exhibition booth, to write a press release, to design a prototype, you name it! But hiring the right ones can be tricky, and hiring the wrong ones can have dire consequences for your business.
Here are some tips on how to source for the best freelancers.
Have a Plan
Before the start of any project, it is important to carefully plan out the number of freelancers you will need, the job scope of each freelancer, and the budget. This is to ensure that you can effectively communicate your expectations to the freelancer, and to avoid the realisation down the road that you have hired more or fewer than you actually need.
The Right Networks
Now that you know what you need, the search begins. Often, the best source of candidates are in your immediate network. Do you have a former colleague who is now working from home? Or would a friend know someone that fits the bill? This method of course comes with reliable references.
If this fails, there are many online portals available where you can either post a wanted ad or peruse databases of freelancers. Linked In, for example, is especially useful as it enables you to view a candidate’s work experience. However, if you are not directly connected with them, you will need to upgrade your account to a paid membership. Other sites such as freelancer.com and freelancing.my allow you to search their database for free.
Before You Commit
The selection process proper begins once you have identified several potential candidates. A good first indication of the quality of the candidate is the manner in which he or she responds to your initial communication. Did they respond promptly and professionally?
Since freelancers are usually not based at your office, a freelancer who can communicate well with you over distance is vital. Often the interview process will be a good gauge of how the candidates will communicate with you, and also how adept they are with technology. For example, if the candidate seems unsure of how to go about a Skype interview call, this can hint at possible communications difficulties in the future.
If you have the time and the budget, it would also be a good idea to task the shortlisted candidates with a small test job, and then hire the one that performs the best at that job.
Peanuts and Monkeys
The old adage, “if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys” is an important reminder that you should not expect quality work at a low price. Always ensure that you are offering at least market rates for the nature of the job, and be wary of freelancers with low asking rates. Asking rates below market price often indicate inexperience.
For example, you can always head to US-based Editorial Freelancers Association to get a handle on the market rates for American writers. Knowing the price range can help one plan for a budget involving freelance services.
By following all the tips above, and with a little bit of luck, you should be able to find not only the right fit for your project, but also a potential business relationship that can last years into the future.
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