A new project has popped up with an impending deadline. What are your options? Do it yourself? Delegate to another team member or department? More often than not, companies are turning to freelancers to complete projects of all sizes. And, who knows, you may even begin working with them on a regular basis, adding new resources to your workforce.
Outsourcing projects has never been so necessary for growth, however, the hiring process remains clunky and stuck in the past. Here are a few rules to help ease the process:
Implement a recruitment strategy and stick to it
Sourcing top talent to work on one-off projects or a short-term contract is a challenge that companies tend to take for granted. Most startups do not have a department dedicated to sourcing freelancers so it is generally left to the person or department in charge of the project, absorbed by the HR team or even delegated to an unqualified member of the team to figure it out.
Marketing teams will frequently take it upon themselves to find a freelancer when they require content for a particular project, for example, whereas a member of the IT team will want some input when it comes to outsourcing a web designer, UX/UI designer or techie. Whichever way you currently do it, there’s rarely a system in place that everyone follows.
The first step is often to ask the team if they know a suitable freelancer for the project. Recommendations can be great but they rely on the recommender’s ability to match suitable talent with the project at hand.
Asking on social media is a shot in the dark and often results in a slew of suggestions from various acquaintances, that leave you sifting through website links, comments and direct messages.
“Does anyone know a good photographer?” is not a great brief nor is it an effective approach to hire a freelancer. It may seem like the fastest way to source a photographer as all it takes is a 6 word post, however, after hours of reviewing unsuitable links, viewing individual portfolios, checking past reviews, sending DMs to potential candidates, collating quotes and scribbling notes about each potential snapper, it can be really time consuming.
A recruitment or creative agency is often unnecessary for smaller projects, whereas tapping into the gig-economy can work well for remedial projects with simple briefs but can lead to 100s of applicants undercutting each other on projects requiring a skilled service provider. Good news for the hiring company? Rarely. This system often makes it more difficult to choose a suitable candidate and leads to risky hires who jump ship if a better offer comes their way. ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’.
An internal recruitment strategy for freelance projects may seem excessive but if you hire more than 3 freelancers over the next year, it will save you a lot of time and money. Nor does it have to be too elaborate. You’ve probably got a lot of the pieces already in place such as a service agreement template, brand document and payment structure so it’s just a case of adding a few bits around the recruitment process and stitching it all together. Once in place, you and any member of your team can use it to competently source exceptional freelancers and contractors efficiently.
Source the freelancer
With your strategy in place and a clear brief of who you are looking for, you can begin the search.
Make sure you spend a bit of time on the brief. Particularly if there is a subjective element to the project, make clear your expectations and use visual aids where possible (Pinterest is good for a moodboard).
Hiring freelancers requires adopting a very different approach compared to hiring full-time employees (especially if you’re in need of a specialist.) Looking for a photographer, web designer or writer? Their CV will not be as important as their portfolio. Look at their work, their style, and the nuances around their artistic skill. A visual portfolio will guide a client a lot more than a text-heavy CV when hiring for visual projects.
Unless the project is a one-off, it’s very common to re-use a freelancer for future projects so it pays to get to know them a bit first. If you are recruiting for a small business or a startup, networking at specific industry events is a great way to meet new talent and build a freelance network. A big benefit in doing this is getting to meet the person face to face to see if they’re a good fit.
The natural next step in assessing if a freelancer is appropriate for the job is by arranging a meeting. For quick, one-off jobs, sifting through applicants and setting up interviews can feel like a waste of time. Equally, you don’t want to rush a hire and end up having to find someone else to re-do it.
Remember, the 4 Ps when hiring a freelancer for a short-term role: Portfolio, Price, Professionalism and Personality.
Bypass the formalities, conduct phone interviews, video calls or use a chat App and trust their professionalism to understand a brief and execute it. WhatsApp is becoming a common tool for freelancers and small businesses to use before hiring .
Once you’ve found your freelancer, have them sign a Service Agreement (this is something you can use as a template and add to the hiring strategy) and get cracking.
When hiring freelancers, think about using a strategy that you can adapt and use again for the next long-term project or one-off job. HR and workforce management company SD Worx found that when hiring freelancers or contractors “employers are neglecting workforce planning,” and failing to adapt to a workforce that “is changing with every day that passes.”
Working with freelancers doesn’t have to be a one-time venture, but can be a process and method that enhances your business both financially and creatively.
At Freelancer Club, we’ve been working with freelancers and clients for years. Using our extensive experience and cutting-edge technology, we’ve developed a tool that eliminates the hassle of hiring freelancers. Using our Matching algorithm technology, we’ll connect you with a shortlist of ideal candidates and get you chatting (like normal people) about the project in a matter of minutes.