Most employers have come to realize the benefits of hiring freelancers. Besides saving on office overheads, organizations enjoy a wider talent pool as well as increased productivity. In addition, freelancers offer specific skills for short-term projects, and a good start to tap into foreign markets. It makes perfect money sense to hire freelancers for tasks such as software development, bookkeeping, social media management, and translation, among other tasks that do not really necessitate on-premises workers.
While hiring freelancers remotely is not an impossible task, it is clearly different from hiring co-location employees. For starters, reliable freelancers need to be proactive, self-driven and great communicators, all of which can be hard to identify in a remote hiring process.
However, if the process is done carefully and keenly, it can be easy to spot and hire the right people.
If you are planning to hire freelancers remotely, here are some tips that you can utilize to counter the challenges that you might encounter.
If the role you are seeking to fill requires specific traits, it is important to define exactly what you need in the job listing. You can go a notch higher and offer sample questions that candidates can answer to establish whether they possess the specific trait you need. Accurately write the job title, skills required or education level and, most importantly, do not forget to specify that it is a freelancer role. In addition, state clearly the tasks involved and what the successful individual is expected to do on a daily basis. It is also advisable to state your company values and culture. If you have a website with content about your remote work culture, it would be prudent to state it on the listing. State whether the freelancer is expected to work full-time or part-time. If part-time specify the hours that would be ideal for you. This goes hand in hand with your preferred geographical areas and time zones, especially if you need to have minimum hours of overlap between your remote team members.
Doing the above will help candidates deselect themselves, and have only those that can meet the requirements apply. That way, you will have an easy time in the shortlisting process.
A remote hiring process needs to be structured and organized. That is the only way to offer the candidates a good experience, avoid biases, and stay consistent throughout the hiring process. That is why you should assemble a hiring team that comprises of employees under whom the freelancers will be working. That gives in-house team leaders the feeling that they own their freelance teams; that they are responsible for the candidates they allow into the team. Assign specific roles to each hiring team member, lay out the steps to be followed during the hiring process, decide who will be responsible for each step, and define the timeline for each step. If you don’t have enough human resources to put up a team, consider using a reliable applicant tracking system. Such a system will help you manage and track the hiring process so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Unlike in a traditional office where you can closely monitor and guide employees, remote workers are required to be self-sufficient to some degree. They need to be self-starters, self-disciplined and self-motivated. They should be able to schedule their time and deliver within deadlines without being pushed. They also need to be excellent communicators for better team collaboration.
When hiring remote workers, it is important that you establish that they possess these traits by asking the right questions. Instead of asking what motivates them, ask how they stay motivated while working from home. Ask how they manage their time and if they use any time management tools. Enquire how they would solve a problem if they suddenly are unable to reach you or the other team members.
After asking the right questions, you should go ahead and give them a test on the same. This will separate those who are just giving answers for the sake of it and those that really possess the skills. You can give them a small assignment concerning the job and assess how they carry out themselves from start to end. If the role involves research, tell them to report their findings on video. If they finish the task on time and handle problems on their own, you will know that they are resourceful and good in time management. The video interview will also give you valuable insights into their personality, knowledge in using collaboration tools and their communication skills. Some roles such as customer support require certain OS running and high internet speed. Giving a pre-employment test can tell you if the potential hire has these requirements. While you can fund them to upgrade, having this information beforehand is essential in helping you plan.
If you are looking for freelancers for your international expansion, it is advisable that you hire them through a Global PEO. The key advantage of hiring through a PEO is that you get established in any country a lot faster than you would if you decided to register your business there. The organization takes care of the employees’ needs and legal requirements, allowing you time to do the most integral task of running your business.
You can get reliable freelancers on reputable job boards such as AngelList, Remote.co, Freelancer.com, and Upwork, among others. These job boards allow freelancers to display samples of their previous work, which can give you a clue of what to expect if you are to hire them. It is easy to shortlist qualified freelancers for your position after going through their profiles.
In addition, previous employers review and rate freelancers on these platforms. Their comments can give you a sneak peak of the freelancers’ traits, and you can easily tell the potential working relationship you will have with them.
Why did the applicant in question choose to freelance instead of entering the mainstream labor market? Seeking the answers to this question can help you sieve serious freelancers from a pool of desperate unemployed professionals. Here are a few pointers for you:
- The best freelancers are those in search of work-life balance. This lot understands that they can earn more in mainstream employment, but they are happy working for less for as long as they enjoy the lifestyle benefits that come with freelancing.
- Others choose to freelance because of the new challenges it exposes them to every single day. These people hate the monotony that comes with a regular 9-5 job. They make good freelancing candidates.
- Avoid freelancers who chose freelancing because they don’t have better alternatives at the moment. Such people will most likely bail out on you as soon as a 9-5 job offer lands on their table.
While you may have landed an individual with every trait and skill you were looking for, assigning actual work to them is the only way to see if they fit into your company’s values and culture. That is why it is advisable to have a trial window with a successful candidate before committing to a contract. During this period, you will get to test their skills, observe how they integrate with the rest of the team, teach them your values, and basically assess if they are fit for the job. If their performance is unsatisfactory, your best bet is to go back to the drawing board and hire new people. Remember to redesign your hiring protocols to incorporate the traits you didn’t like in previous “successful” candidates as red flags in subsequent hiring processes.
The secret to hiring reliable freelancers lies in determining individuals who value remote working for the benefits it gives. That is why you should be keen in observing the nitty-gritties throughout the recruitment process. You should be able to pick their traits by how they interact and respond to you during the process.
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