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Attracting top talent: How to hire freelancers for your company
Wouldn’t it be great to have access to top talent from around the world? Well, thanks to the concept of freelancing, this is no longer a hypothetical situation, but a reality for every business owner!
For small to mid-sized businesses, hiring full-time employees with specialized skill sets can be prohibitively expensive. And often, you may not even need a full-time resource, but someone for a one-off project, for which hiring someone may not be worth the effort. This is when bringing a freelancer on board is a great option.
In this increasingly digital era, remote working is becoming a more promising career choice for many. Office lockdowns and job losses as a result of COVID-19 have made the concept of freelancing more popular, creating a wide pool of freelance talent around the globe. However, many businesses are unfamiliar with the dynamics of hiring freelancers, which can end up in both parties being disappointed in case expectations are not matched.
This article will explain how companies can brand themselves towards freelancers and offer some helpful tips on how to get access to the best freelance talent in the market.
What is freelance work?
A freelance worker is a person who works either individually or for an organization that deals with one or more clients, often in various industries. Freelancers are essentially self-employed and are only answerable to the person who hired them, rather than to a company.
Freelance work ranges from short one-time projects to ongoing assignments that can extend to months and years. Because of the large number of freelancers available, employers can find skilled talent in almost any industry or for any type of role.
Some factors that differentiate freelancers from full-time employees are:
1. Freelancers get paid only once they deliver their work, whereas employees get paid a fixed salary or an agreed-upon hourly rate.
2. Full-time employees need to be present in the office at all times, unlike freelancers who can work from anywhere as long as they have adequate resources.
3. Full-time employers provide benefits like health insurance, pensions, and tax insurance, which freelancers have to manage for themselves.
4. Freelancers are in control of their own schedules and workload, as opposed to full-time employees who have to work as per the conditions of their contract.
The growing popularity of freelancing
Over the years, an increasing number of professionals are opting to become career freelancers. A report by freelancing platform Upwork estimated that in 2019, around 35% of the U.S. workforce are opting for full-time freelance careers.
Freelancing is becoming an increasingly accepted career choice, and organizations are slowly warming up to the possibility of using these services rather than going through the hiring process for permanent employees. Some of the major factors contributing to the growth of the freelance industry are:
Dynamic job market
Millennials and Gen-Zers are changing jobs more than any other generation for reasons like better career acceleration, increased work stress, and the desire to learn new skills. Research shows that 91% of millennials don't plan to stay in one job for more than two years. This has resulted in a much more dynamic job market that is more conducive to freelancing.
More employers are offering their employees flexible work hours and a better work-life balance where they can spend time with their families. One of the many perks of freelancing is a flexible work schedule; in fact, a study by Statista showed that 74% of freelancers chose this path because they can work from a location of their choice!
Better opportunities to upskill
Freelancing allows individuals the chance to constantly upskill and keep up to date with industry trends. This flexible career choice lets individuals broaden their expertise in a variety of career paths as opposed to sticking to the same industry or role for multiple years.
Increased income from part-time jobs
Several full-time employees opt to work on a part-time freelance basis to earn extra income to maintain their lifestyles. A recent survey by Flexjobs, for example, showed that 24% of employees combine freelancing with their primary jobs so that they can challenge their limits and earn additional income.
Greater innovation and collaboration
Collaborating with other companies and freelancers creates better ideas and paves the way for innovation. By blending a traditional work culture with freelancing, employers get access to a wider range of cost-effective talent, as well as fresh ideas that keep the business growing.
Advantages of hiring freelance talent
Over the years, more organizations are recognizing the benefit of hiring freelance talent. In addition to saving costs, hiring freelancers has several advantages. Some reasons for employers to consider hire freelancers are:
Lower compensation costs
Although freelancers’ rates depend on the services they provide and the industry they are in, they generally work out to be more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees. Several studies have shown that since freelancers don’t require benefits, insurance, and other perks that permanent employees require, they can be less expensive in the long run.
Expertise at your disposal
Freelancers are always on the lookout for new potential clients. Additionally, there are now several channels on which you can find talented individuals to take up various freelance projects. A good strategy is to keep a variety of freelancers on a roster, from which you can select the best talent as and when needed.
More flexibility to scale up and down
Working with a freelancer means you can hire them when you need them. You do not need to continue working with them if they do not provide satisfactory work. You can also choose the timing, and budget for the project, as well as how much you will pay the freelancer.
Strong work ethic
If you are working within a limited time frame, then hiring a freelancer might be a good idea. Since they rely on positive feedback and steady income from their clients, they are more likely to be responsive and professional in terms of communication and work delivery.
Access to global talent
Freelancers can work from anywhere, and even if your company is based in another country or location, it just means that you need to coordinate timings. This is one of the biggest advantages of hiring freelancers – having access to a global pool of talent, which is often far too complex to do on a full-time basis.
Where to hire freelancers
In today’s digital age, you can find freelance talent almost anywhere. Whether you post your job on an online platform or look at referrals, the options are endless. Some ways in which you can find and hire freelancers are:
Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour, and Fiverr are the most popular with employers. Many of them work via project bids, which means that when you post a job, several freelancers with matching skills will apply to it. It is then up to you to shortlist and interview candidates and decide which freelancer you want to work with. Several of these platforms offer useful tools and payment features to help maintain professional contracts with freelancers.
Most career freelancers have online portfolios and websites, which give you an idea of their previous work, skills, and experience. These can be useful when shortlisting or differentiating between various freelancers, so you should make a point of asking whether they have one before hiring them.
Nowadays, all you have to do to find freelance talent is to go onto social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. By posting in various groups or running advertisements on social media, you are sure to gather a pool of interested applicants for your freelance project.
Crowdsourcing and referrals
If you are looking for talent, there may be a good chance that others have used a freelancer in the past with whom they are happy. You could ask your network for referrals and they may be able to connect you with an appropriate freelancer who will be able to get the job done.
Tips on hiring freelancers
Many companies are still hesitant about hiring freelancers; after all, it can be a risk! Are you hiring the right person for the job? Will the freelancer be able to deliver quality work? Will they deliver the work on time? – these are all valid concerns. Here are some tips to ensure that you hire someone experienced and professional:
1. Read reviews of the freelancer from past clients and check their rating on freelance platforms. In case they don’t work via freelance platforms, ask for references.
2. Study their portfolio to see if any of their past work coincides with your industry.
3. Screen candidates by giving them a short, paid assignment so you get an idea of how they work.
4. Be communicative and clear about the exact requirements. Share as much information as you can to ensure that the freelancer gets a feel for your company.
5. Always provide a contract if you decide to hire them and include any non-disclosure or non-compete clauses as required.
6. Although you do not have to pay the freelancer until the work is received, many freelance platforms offer escrow accounts to secure your payment, ensuring that the freelancer also knows that you will pay them once the work is complete.
7. Be prompt with the payments since freelancers depend on the income from these projects.
8. Leave feedback to ensure that future employers will know about your experience working with the freelancer; it helps them to build their clientele in case of positive feedback.
Branding yourself towards freelancers
Although they are not your permanent employees, it is important to treat freelancers as though they are a part of your company. They should feel appreciated for the work they deliver, and you need to challenge them and help them do their jobs effectively. Some ways in which you can position your company, and attract top freelancers are:
Pay fairly and on time
Many companies who hire freelancers do not pay them for the work they do which is extremely unfair. Often, this can be because the payment terms are unclear. To avoid situations like this, ensure to use a formal contract that clearly lays out the terms of the work agreement. Contractbook, for example, can be used to create freelance contracts to be shared and digitally signed by any freelancers you hire.
Give clear direction upfront
For a freelancer to be able to do their job, they need a clear direction on the expectations and needs of the client. If they do not have this, then you might end up with something completely different than what you wanted, resulting in repeated feedback or poor-quality work. Share as much information as you can with the freelancer to help them get the job done faster and better.
Give interesting work
A freelancer is always looking to upskill. If you provide them with this opportunity, then they will likely want to work with you again. Try to give them interesting and engaging projects with the opportunity to learn more about your industry or organization. Where possible, you can even try and work with them on an ongoing basis so they can learn in greater depth about what you do, which will improve their work quality and efficiency over time.
It is imperative to maintain a professional relationship with your freelancer to ensure that neither party has a negative experience during the project duration. With Contractbook, you can draft and share contracts, work agreements, and other documents with your freelancer which will help to eliminate any doubts on the scope of work, payment terms, and anything else.
If the freelancer does not have access to a particular resource, software, or tool that you use, it should be your duty to provide them with the adequate materials required to get the job done. If you do not provide them with what they need, they may not be able to do an effective job.
While hiring a freelancer may seem like a new or intimidating idea for your company, the benefits are undeniable. Apart from getting access to a wider range of talent, you save on expenses and enjoy a much greater degree of flexibility. And most importantly, by following these tips, you can ensure that every time you hire a freelancer, you’re getting access to the cream of the crop from this vibrant and dynamic community!