How to Find, Hire and Keep the Most Competent Freelancers
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Your ‘office’ is open to the whole world. How do you find the best freelancers, and how do you keep them when you’ve got them?
It’s quite addicting, delegating tasks externally. Once you start, there’s no going back to trying to DIY things outside your core expertise. Ideas keep popping up because your mind is free from quotidian concerns. More ideas, more to assign to your freelancers.
It’s a happy cycle when you’ve learned to pick people for projects, or if you no longer even have to pick and already have a good individual or team who could work for you as needed.
Because it’s the biggest cog in the wheel, it’s also the biggest challenge of outsourcing: finding, hiring, and keeping the most competent talents around.
Finding the perfect assistants
By 2030, 85 million jobs can go unfilled with an $8.5 trillion shortage in annual revenue. Finding employees is becoming more difficult and competitive. Large companies are offering sign-on bonuses and high starting salaries especially for in-demand expertise. Today, small businesses have fewer chances to acquire skilled in-house talents.
In 2022, out of the 3.38 billion workforce, 1.57 billion are freelancers. Small businesses can take advantage of notable platforms with talent pools that vary by country, pay, and the work they provide:
- LinkedIN and LinkedIn ProFinder
Post your job ads on the right boards to have direct contacts with experienced freelancers or outsource to an agency. 54% of US companies work with third-party service providers for flexible employees and quality control over secured transactions
Not being hampered by location is a perk AND a disadvantage, but only if you see yourself being buried under applications. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Rather than just opening the door and letting applicants rush in, why not walk out the door and pull the likely ones instead? Contact an agency or filter applicants with ‘invite-only’ job posts. Request application from top performers in specific fields by sending invitations.
Be proactive rather than passive
We at USource wouldn’t recommend closing yourself off–you might miss great freelancers also proactively seeking jobs.
Use filters, and take the time to write about the position carefully. You weed out the weak applicants by being detailed and comprehensive (without being redundant and wordy) in your job posting/interview questions.
You get better responses. Good applicants would be detailed and comprehensive (without being redundant and wordy) in return.
Personable job postings
Is there room for charm in a job posting? Yes. Just a single sentence–a joke, a pun, a self-deprecating quip–can change your whole posting from dull to desirable. Like attracts like. What you are is what you’d draw to yourself.
Do you want charming freelancers you’d love to work with? Be charming. It’s that easy.
Especially for the best freelancers, they notice when a certain client sounds like a ‘keeper’ just from the job posting.
Who do you hire?
This is the easy part. Depending on the tasks and in addition to their qualifications, suss out three things as you look for and interview your freelancer/s:
- problem-solving skills
They need to be able to do their jobs well, without you having to do all the thinking while they just obey orders. They have initiative. They have drive to learn and do great. You’re not in full control but you can rely on them.
There’s no one-size fits all approach in outsourcing. You need to know when to hire freelancers and when to outsource to an agency.
- Freelancers are more cost-efficient for small tasks with agencies for large projects.
- Freelancers require more supervision and investments in project management
- Agencies have resources and quality control to deliver output on time
- Both have flexibility in work arrangements. Agencies can be outsourced for long-term contracts while specialized freelancers often take on multiple projects
You still need to manage them with clear expectations and understanding of your brand. You need to provide feedback for their work and set meetings to communicate with your outsourced freelancer or team. Tools like ClickUp, Trello, and Asana are available to use to manage daily progress.
They should fit in–not terribly important, but it can go a long way if you and your freelancer/s AND your team by themselves, get along. You and your freelancer/s can have your own ‘culture’ in relation to the work and to each other.
Effective employee retention strategies
The ‘Great Resignation’ is no longer a trend but an ongoing crisis for small to medium enterprises. In 2022, one out of every five employees plan to quit their jobs.
Beyond attractive salary packages, what can you do to attract and keep your best people?
Businesses should address work discriminations. More women are quitting due to gender gaps in pay and promotions. The best way to alleviate it is to discourage preconceptions of women being lower-value and unskilled, promote diversity and inclusions, and be strict against toxic company cultures.
Smart hiring process should include consideration of personality and values. Weeding out bad seeds before onboarding makes the work environment productive and less stressful. Commit to the culture of employee listening. Pay attention to their experience through engagement surveys and pulse surveys.
Establish good workplace communication and engagement. Performance reviews and one-on-one meetings can help you connect with your employees. Create a positive environment where they can approach you for ideas, questions, and concerns.
Identify the challenges your employees face daily. Analyze, act, and create a collaborative action plan to address pressing issues.
Express your gratitude for all efforts. Among the happiest employees, 95% stated that their managers are good at providing positive feedback. A simple and sincere ‘thank you’ is enough so make it a habit to commend on specific positive behaviors.
Monetary rewards are great but it’s not enough. The RSA’s (the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts) What Drives US video reveals a stunning but always-been-there fact: we’re not motivated by money.
What keeps us moving and engaged in all the things we love to do are: a sense of autonomy, the challenge of mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy is already taken care of–freelancers are self-directed, and that’s why many of us love freelancing. And doing the things we do and getting prompts, challenges and leads from our clients make us better. That’s mastery.
Give rewards and recognitions to the right people. In the United States, 80% of employees feel that they are not recognized for their achievements. Build a work culture that acknowledges and rewards improvements and milestones big or small.
Performance incentives can motivate us. It can be cash or personalized gifts catered to the interests of the excelling employee.
Invest in your employee’s career. In LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report back in 2018, 94% of employees prefer companies who invest in their career. A more recent study cited how 40% of employees leave their positions due to lack of skills training and development.
You can lessen training expenses by utilizing modern elearning tools, many of them with free certifications like HubSpot and Google Courses.
Your company’s culture should support employee’s mental health. 91% of employees’ believe that their prospective employers should support their mental well-being. Out of 1,150 employees, 42% stated they are searching for jobs that have better work-life
Be a VIP in your freelancers’ book
They’re the most competent, so of course, they’re also the most sought-after. Speaking from experience, our team doesn’t like to spread ourselves too thin, so we take our pick of jobs and tasks.
How do you make sure you always get picked? And even better, how do you make it so you don’t have to be picked because your freelancer/s simply never stopped working for you? Oh, sure, you ended contracts, or you’re on an as-needed basis, but your freelancer likes you and you’re a VIP in their book.
It’s beyond being charming this time (though it’s a plus). As for the contribution/purpose part, that’s on you.
Your freelancers are individuals who should and would certainly cultivate something themselves.
But even as you plan and outline and map out every move and every eventuality in your startup, create an SOP that’s not so much ‘standard’ as dynamic, practices that fuel creativity in your freelancers. Let them contribute. Let them build alongside you.
There’s always the risk of detachment when you outsource. This is what the naysayers argue about. But it’s easy to make a freelancer care about your business! Simply let them have a hand in it as well, even in the smallest ways. We always love what we create.