Hire a Digital Dream Team
By Allison Howen, Associate Editor
Executives don't have the luxury of drafting a dream team for every new business project. They do, however, have the ability to sign free agents (or freelancers, as we call them in the business world).
Unlike traditional employees, freelancers typically have a specialized skill set, are self-employed and not necessarily committed to a particular employer long term. This makes freelancers a great option for businesses that need assistance with short-term projects or tasks. Finding quality freelancers for the first time, however, can be time consuming.
Hiring managers must not only make a strategic plan that identifies the type of freelancers they need (e.g. designers, developers, writers, etc.), but also know where to look for this talent and what questions to ask during the hiring process.
Where to Look
Most professionals have heard of popular freelance marketplace Upwork (formerly oDesk) - and for good reason. The marketplace has more than 10 million registered freelancers with 2,700-plus areas of expertise available, including Web and mobile development, designing, writing, customer service and accounting. What's more, Upwork has an enterprise solution for companies that need to hire a large team. Other freelance marketplaces worth checking out include Guru and Freelancer.com.
While all are good options for scouting talent, hiring managers shouldn't limit their search to freelance-only hiring services. In fact, freelance opportunities can be promoted on traditional job boards as long as they are labeled as such. Plus, unlike in-house positions, businesses can search for talent across the globe.
"Many freelancers work remotely, so forget about city-specific job listings," said Charlie Cohn, head of marketing at StudySoup. "I recommend searching for candidates at companies you believe are doing well at the role you're hiring for and inviting them to apply. I also believe in word-of-mouth. Ask your network to aid in the search."
Once a hiring manager collects a good amount of qualified candidates, it is time to start reviewing portfolios and preparing for the interview process - which requires asking the right questions.
27 Unusual Interview Questions
They never could have prepared for these: wsm.co/qsinterview.
What to Ask
Reviewing portfolios helps hiring managers get a better idea of each candidate's skills and allows them to create customized questions for future interviews.
"These questions are important, because portfolio items can be misleading," said Adam Thompson, director of digital at 10x Digital. "For example, I've seen many designers/developers include a website in their portfolio, only to discover upon further questioning that they only did a very small task on the website, such as add a contact form."
Aside from questions related directly to the freelancer's skills and work history, hiring managers should have a list of other important questions. For example, inquiring about the candidate's availability, communication preferences and pay rate is vital. Here are additional questions worth considering:
+ What is the biggest mistake you have made on a project and what did you learn from it?
+ Which clients have been your favorite to work with, and why?
+ Will you be working for other employers simultaneously?
+ What would your previous employer list as your most positive and negative attributes?
+ What do you expect from our company as a freelancer?
Hiring managers can ask these questions via a telephone or video interview and should evaluate candidates' responses similar to how they do when hiring traditional employees. After all, even though freelancers are typically short-term and remote workers, they still need to be a good fit for the enterprise that hires them. Further, they may work out in the long run as a viable full-time team member.
Setting Your Lineup
Hiring a dream team of freelancers is beneficial for enterprises needing specialized skills for temporary projects, as these individuals don't require a long-term commitment and require less day-to-day management than full-time employees.