Let’s get to it. The last step in selecting a freelancer. Your job is posted and you’re getting applicants. What should you do? Take your time and do your research!
You are going to get a lot of applicants. And most all of them are going to sound fantastic – because everyone looks good on paper. But you can’t just judge by the resume and cover letter that’s handed over. These two bits of information are void of any humanity. They have been padded, buffed, polished, scrubbed, written, re-written, edited and spell-checked dozens of times. (They should be!) These documents have become so sterilized, using all the right keywords and lingo to get noticed on a search engine, that it’s virtually impossible to tell anything about the quality of the person.
Apart from the shiny, cookie-cutter resumes, there’s a bit of a darker side – the outright fabrication of backgrounds. I am always surprised at how many people lie on their resumes. I know people pad – and that is easily detected – but to completely lie about your education or experiences – it doesn’t make sense to me. Unfortunately, you’re going to receive applicants that are completely BSing you. How do you know? You aren’t going to know immediately, but there are some preventative measures you can take in order to protect yourself.
1. If an applicant catches your eye, reply back with some specific questions about experiences he has listed. If you need someone for a specific software program, ask detailed questions about that program. Someone who has actually done the work is going to give you a solid response. Someone who is just hoping to squeak by is going to sound very generic.
2. If you’re not sure about a response – if it sounds a bit to “professional,” – Google it. You might find an applicant has just copied and pasted information from another website in response to you.
3. Do a phone interview. If this is going to be someone you need to be working with solidly, someone you can trust with your business affairs long-term, please do the interview. Honestly, if you can make it a video interview, even better. At a job long ago a team did a phone interview with a candidate. He sounded knowledgeable. They brought him on board…only to find out that he really didn’t speak English. Someone else had done the interview for him.
4. If you’re using a freelancer website to hire, check all of the previous work done. Check the comments. Ask for references from those previous clients. That’s probably the best thing about using those sites. You can get some kind of history for that person that you might not get elsewhere.
Just pay attention, follow your instincts, and take your time when selecting your freelancer. A little bit of patience will go a long way in securing the most talented person for the job.
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Now that you know what you want in a freelancer and you know where you’re going to look, your next step is to post the job “out there.” It doesn’t matter which website you’re going to use. The key to getting yourself a good freelancer is great communication when you’re posting for your job.
I have read thousands of job posts. Many are not adequate scripted to help the freelancer submit a proper bid. Let’s make up an example. Let’s say I want to hire a web page designer for my new business. I rush right out to my favorite freelancing website and post:
WEB DESIGNER FOR NEW BUSINESS NEEDED.
And that’s it. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking “oh, nobody does that.” Yes. Yes, they do. Quite often. This does not tell the web designers who might be interested ANYTHING about the job. Freelancers, (however awesome we might be!), are not mind readers. In order for us to properly bid on a project, we need to have as much information as possible. Here’s another example of a bad post:
NEED FIVE PAGE WEBSITE SET UP. ORIGINAL DESIGN. FLASH. INCORPORATE A STORE, VIDEOS, SOUND. $150 MAX.
Again, these posts happen, and happen frequently. Before you post, make sure you have a good idea of the general rate of pay a freelancer might make on your job. In the case of the example above, you would be insulting any good designer. I know you want to save money – but do not…. DO NOT save it at the expense of your business. The old adage “you get what you pay for” rings loud and clear when you’re dealing with freelancing. Don’t cheap out where your business is concerned. I have been hired to clean up after a “cheap” freelancer, in effect, costing the employer more money than if I had just been hired directly.
So, let’s get back to our example. I know I need a website, but I’m not website/techie savvy. My business is all about birdhouses. I can still post a good job description that will help me key in on the right freelancer.
NEW BUSINESS OWNER WANTS TO EXPAND TO THE INTERNET AND ISN’T SURE WHERE TO START. I HAVE OVER 500 PRODUCTS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO START SELLING ONLINE SO I WILL NEED A STORE SET UP. (CONSIDERING VOLUSION SOFTWARE, BUT WILL LISTEN TO YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS.) I ALSO WANT TO HAVE A BLOG ONSITE, A CONTACT PAGE, A FAQ PAGE, AND PERHAPS A SALES/CONTESTS/COUPON PAGE.
I NEED SOMEONE WITH EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS (EASTERN TIME ZONE, PLEASE) IN ENGLISH WHO CAN LISTEN TO MY IDEAS AND MAKE THEM HAPPEN ONLINE. AN INTEREST IN BIRDS AND THE OUTDOORS IS GREAT, BUT NOT NECESSARY. LOCAL CANDIDATES TO TOLEDO WOULD BE GREAT SO WE COULD MEET UP TO DISCUSS, BUT AGAIN, NOT NECESSARY.
It’s not perfect, but it gives a designer a lot more to go on. If you aren’t technically savvy – let them know. If you are, then state exactly what kind of software or coding you are looking for. The more information you give, the better your return on candidates.
One more piece of information on the job post. Freelancing websites allow freelancers to ask you questions. Respond. Always respond. The more questions that are asked, the easier it is to give you a solid bid and timeline for completion.
Our last Step will talk about your list of candidates – this is one step you won’t want to miss!
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