Working with freelancers can help your team access the skills they need to reach ambitious goals while staying nimble. But in a pool of proposals, how do you spot the freelancers who will be the best fit? Here are four tips to help you keep your search on track.
1. Aim for the best
Leo Polovets, an early engineer at LinkedIn, says it’s important to set a high bar for talent. “Teamwork is a lot easier and more effective when you can trust everyone around you to be very good at what they do,” he said.
As you review the proposals you’ve received for your project, consider how you can gauge the quality of each freelancer’s portfolio and expertise. For example:
- Look for signals in their portfolio. Is the information well-written and free of typos and other mistakes?
- Read reviews from previous clients. What sort of feedback have they received?
- Consider a small paid test project. Is it possible for you to start small? A paid test project — such as a small assignment or the first segment of your project — can be an effective way to see their skills in action.
2. Look for freelancers who know how to collaborate
The nature of working with remote freelancers is that your relationships can be fragmented—opportunities to connect and share ideas need to be created. Creating milestones can help build a natural feedback loop into your project, but it can also be helpful to learn more about previous projects.
As part of your interview, ask questions that can indicate how well they’ve collaborated with clients in the past. Asking them about it specifically is one approach, but you can also listen for clues as they answer related questions, such as:
- “What was your approach to this project?”
- “How have you addressed challenges in previous projects?”
- “What do you feel are the keys to success when working remotely with a client?”
3. Find someone who’s committed to your project’s success
Top talent can be selective about the clients they work with and the projects they want to pursue. In your job post, include information about your company and your mission. Think beyond the challenge your project addresses and highlight why it matters.
In the words of entrepreneur and investor Paul Graham, “[It’s] a salesperson who just won’t take no for an answer; a hacker who will stay up till 4:00 AM rather than go to bed leaving code with a bug in it; a PR person who will cold-call New York Times reporters on their cell phones; a graphic designer who feels physical pain when something is two millimeters out of place.”
4. Don’t underestimate good communication skills
When working with remote talent, you’ll communicate via email, messages, and occasionally video or phone calls. Good communication skills can mean the difference between a project that is smooth sailing and one that deteriorates quickly.
Communicate with a freelancer in a variety of methods—email, message, and video call—to test out their communication skills prior to hiring them for a project. The exchanges will give you a good indication of whether your feedback and collaboration styles gel.
Finding talent that’s the right fit for your team can help you complete more projects at a higher caliber and faster pace.
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