How to Hire a Freelancer

 This week,  we flip the script and examine the thought processes and procedures that ought to be followed when we are hired for a project.  How do ya  like them apples?

1.)  Determine what work needs to be done.  This  should be obvious,  but a surprising percentage of  project managers do not have a clear idea of the scope of the job.  They may furthermore have an unrealistic  view of the time,  resources and information needed for successful project completion.  These are the managers who hire a Freelancer to work 10 hours /week for 4 weeks,  when 20 hours /week  for 8 weeks is what the project requires.  This information is imperative for accurate project budget development.

2.)  Determine the relevant qualifications most likely needed to successfully perform tasks associated with the project.  Resist the temptation to gratuitously demand degrees and certifications  simply because in a tight economy it is possible to do so,  under the mistaken notion that this will ensure that the best candidate will be hired.  Pieces of paper are not necessarily an indicator of ability.  Experience is  a  much more reliable indicator of competence and therefore should be the primary qualification sought.

3.)  Research the price range for consultants within the  specialty.  This information is also necessary for accurate budget development.  Verify that adequate funds will be in hand,  so that Freelancer invoices can be paid on time.

4.)  Interview three or four candidates if  this project has not been outsourced previously.  First,  gauge what level of talent is available.  Second,  learn to recognize candidates who are  able to do the job.  In this economy,  there is  a large pool of  high quality talent available within most specialties.  These  individuals can bring skills and insight to a  project that  a  hiring manager may not have considered and they may be able to effect a better outcome than was originally envisioned.  Some candidates  may have a better understanding of what is needed to successfully complete the project than the manager.

5.)  Clearly describe the project scope to those who are interviewing and review again for the Freelancer who is ultimately hired.  Again,  this seems obvious,  but a disappointing number of project managers fail to disclose certain specifics of the project.  Inevitably,  this results in disappointment and frustration for all concerned.  Failure to accurately describe project specs is most unfair,  because whose   “fault”  is  it when expectations are not met?

6.)  Confirm the availability of the Freelancer most likely to be hired and speak with one or two of his/her clients as  a  reference check.

7.)  Develop a written contract/proposal  that clearly details project specifications and expected outcomes or delieverables,  hours /week,  project start and end dates and pay scale.  In some situations,  the Freelancer hired will provide this document.  Both the project  manager (or responsible organization representative) and the Freelancer should sign the contract/proposal,  with a photocopy given to the Freelancer.

8.)  Require that the Freelancer hired signs a confidentiality/nondisclosure agreement.  This will allow staff to feel comfortable to candidly discuss pertinent business matters in the presence of the Freelancer.  Find a template online or ask an attorney to prepare a standard template that can be generally used for consulting needs.

9.)  Introduce the Freelancer to staff,  starting with those with whom he/she will regularly work or encounter.  It is  a  good idea to inform staff that  a  Freelancer will  be hired for the project.  It is a better idea to verify whether there are staff  in-house who have both the ability and time to take on the project,  if only the  manager was smart enough to ask! 

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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