The UK’s gig economy has seen spectacular growth in recent years, with the media full of stories on how freelancers are helping the country’s small businesses to compete on a national and even global scale.
With almost 5 million people now self-employed in the UK, it’s inevitable that many businesses will at some stage need to source freelancers for a particular project. The sheer volume of people working as freelancers might suggest that all a business owner needs to do is search online, either via Google or on one of the many freelancer marketplaces, to find the perfect candidate to work with.
For many, though, it’s not quite as simple as that, and sorting through the masses of applicants to find the perfect freelancer can be something of a minefield. By following a few simple guidelines, however, it is possible to cut through the mediocre candidates to find exceptionally talented professionals who are a pleasure to work with and who add real value to your business.
Define the work
In order to attract good quality candidates for your freelance project the most important thing is to do is to define the project accurately.
Good freelancers are busy people, and they see constant demand for their services. They simply don’t have time to spend on vague or waffling job descriptions and instead they need a clear picture of exactly what the project involves, in order to determine whether or not it is a good fit for their particular skillset.
A solid project definition also sets clear expectations for both parties, which means the project has a far greater chance of successful completion. Remember – vague and ambiguous briefs will attract vague and ambiguous proposals from low grade freelancers.
Ask for references
A good freelancer will be proud of their portfolio and will usually direct you to it without waiting to be asked. Don’t be shy about asking questions about any of the projects in a portfolio, as this will give you a chance to confirm whether the freelancer’s involvement was as central to the project as they have implied.
Whilst non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses might sometimes make it difficult, many freelancers will be happy for you to contact previous clients to discuss their work.
If you are sourcing freelancers via an online marketplace take time to go through each candidate’s feedback and ratings looking for recent projects that have been completed to a high standard.
If you’re hiring a freelancer for a project that is outside of your skillset it’s tempting to take everything they say as an unquestionable truth. Whether it’s a web development project or a graphic design task don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from the prospective freelancer about what’s involved, how long the project will take and whether there are any potential pitfalls or areas for improvement.
A good freelance project needs strong communication on both sides. A freelancer that just says yes to everything will not help your project, and neither will someone who tries to bamboozle you with jargon or who is not open to discussing project options with you.
By having a real and meaningful dialogue with candidates you will quickly get a sense of how well you will be able to work together. Learn to trust your gut instinct and if that instinct tells you to walk away and keep hunting for the ideal freelancer, do just that.
If you feel your business could benefit from the skills and expertise that a freelancer could bring following these simple tips could go a long way towards finding the perfect candidate, and to building an ongoing relationship that brings rewards long into the future.