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.