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When hiring freelancers, there are a number of things clients can do to maximise their chances of hiring the right freelancer for them. As with any hiring process, there’s never a guarantee you’re going to get things spot on every time, however, with these tips & tricks, hopefully you’ll improve your success rate moving forwards.
Tip 1 – Learn from previous hiring processes
- How have previous freelancers performed in the business – is there something you wish you had asked them at interview, now that you’ve worked with them for a few weeks/months? Hiring processes should be a learning process for employers as well as candidates, with important takeaways being integrated into future processes.
- Did the process ‘feel’ right? By this I mean, was there a good opportunity for both parties (candidate & client) to learn & share all necessary information?
- When things do go wrong with freelance hires, it’s important to try to understand what safeguards can be brought in during the interview process to avoid repeat situations (perhaps adding another level of screening in your process).
Tip 2 – Learn from current employees/freelancers
- What do current employees/freelancers say could be improved in the hiring process? It’s amazing how many clients don’t tap into this vital knowledge pool. Current employees will give you candid/unfiltered information. If you have any freelancers on site, they should be your first port of call when it comes to refining your interviewing process.
Tip 3 – Spend time creating a proper project brief
- Given the quick turnaround times involved in most freelance hiring processes, it’s often easy to skip past the step of creating a proper job brief. Sometimes, you’re just desperate to get someone on site as soon as possible. This creates a mismatch between freelancer and client expectations, which leads to a number of challenges around how & what work is delivered. A proper job description (with clear objectives), provides a document you can constantly refer back to, so if a project doesn’t result in what you’d expected, you have something to come back to when discussing where/how things had deviated from the initial plan. It’s not the freelancer’s fault you hadn’t clearly clarified what you expected from the start.
- A proper project brief will also expedite the hiring process, as the applications you receive will be far more pertinent to the specific engagement you’re hiring for.
Tip 4 – Create milestones for every project
- Milestones create an element of accountability for both employers and freelancers. If it’s clear what’s expected in the project, set against a timeline, both parties are reassured that they’re working towards the same goals at a pace that’s agreed upon. I would say Day 1 of the project (or even as part of the final round interview process), milestones should be set & discussed. I appreciate sometimes deadlines need to be shifted (especially for more creative tasks), however, even having a rough outline will be beneficial to all involved.
- Milestones also help break a project into digestible ‘chunks’, which helps timeline/map out how the project should be tackled. For instance, instead of creating a brief that only says ‘freelancer needed for a market entry project in China’, add a little context around what the market entry strategy will involve (preferably in order). You can then set milestones against this. This could include a competitor analysis, internal/external market forces to factor in, logistics, etc. You can then discuss prioritisation of each task and you’ll have a clear list of executable tasks to work against.
Tip 5 – Don’t forget to sell your business, as well as the project
- Freelancing is on the rise and the volume of projects is increasing month on month. This rise in supply means freelancers now have far more choice for the type of work they choose to pursue, compared to even a few years ago. This means employers need to differentiate themselves versus competitors to capture the best talent in the market. So if you have any USPs in your business (cool office, highly skilled team, fun perks, i.e., foosball table) – be sure to mention it in the job description (they can sometimes tip things in your favour).
- Quite often freelancers like to establish long-term relationships with the clients they work with. That’s why it’s essential clients sell their long-term vision for the business, not just short-term projects. This enables freelancers to look past only immediate projects. They’re more interested in your business (what you do & how you do it), which is far more likely to get them over the line, compared to selling just a single short-term project.
So there you have it! A few tips and tricks to help improve your freelance hiring success rate. As with many aspects of business (& life), all 5 of these tips revolve around effective communication (both written and verbal), so make sure you always remain receptive to improving your own hiring processes – no process is ever perfect!