How to hire a freelancer
Whether you’ve got a big deliverable on the horizon or you just need help during a hectic time of year, sometimes it’s necessary to hire freelancers to get the job done. In fact, more than a third of creative teams expect to rely more heavily on freelancers over the next three years, according to a recent survey from Robert Half.
Reasons for hiring freelancers vary, but many companies add them to the mix to help with heavy workloads, to access skills that their internal teams don’t have, and to gain cost efficiencies.
Whatever your motive, there are some strategies to successfully adding freelancers to your team. Follow these steps for the most successful experience:
Know what you want the freelancer to do
The clearer you are about what needs to be done, the easier it will be for you to find the right person and set them up for success when they walk in. A freelancer who’s unsure of their role and goals will cost the company more money than necessary, and it’s frustrating for everyone.
“Meet with whomever you need to within the company,” says Brandi Britton, district president at Robert Half. “Talk to the key stakeholders and have an understanding of what you want this person to accomplish.”
This will include what tasks the freelancer will perform, goals they should achieve, deliverables, and any other miscellaneous requirements. It’s also important to establish pay on the front end of the relationship: how much, how often, and in what form. How long will the contract be? Are you paying hourly or by the project?
Make sure you understand what you want in a freelancer, from background and certifications to schedule and pricing. Do you need someone who’ll accept a certain hourly or project rate? Do you need someone with corporate law experience or who knows a specific programming language?
Knowing your requirements will also help you craft your job description and determine where to post it, since various job boards cater to different types of freelancers. Once you have candidates, check their credentials.
“You certainly want to do your due diligence on who you’re bringing in,” Britton says. “Do they have references or some sort of testimonial of what they’ve accomplished in the past? Why are they going to be a good fit?”
Treat them like they belong there
It might sound silly, but if your freelancer will be working on site, walk them around and acquaint them with the people they need to know. “You want them to be invested in the success and the outcome of their project, and the more people they know, the more resources they have internally to get their work done,” Britton says.
Additionally, by sharing with people what you’re doing, you’ll ease any fears that could arise when an extra person shows up at work. “Then you don’t have people wondering, ‘Who’s this person in our office?’” Britton says.
Freelancers will also need access to all the necessary tools to get the job done, whether that’s technology, information or experts within your firm. If they deal with clients directly, give them a company email address. Invite them to meetings and make sure they feel welcome.
Check the laws in your area
Requirements vary from state to state as to when you can hire a freelancer or independent contractor and when you must hire someone as an employee. Generally, those rules hinge on how much control you have over someone’s work (and when and where they do it), whether the freelancer can work for others at the same time, and the type of work they’re doing. But in some places the rules are stricter—as in California, which recently passed a bill requiring employers to reclassify gig economy workers as employees.
The classification of freelancer versus employee affects how you’ll pay that person and whether they’re eligible for benefits, so this matters. It can also get you into tax trouble if you pay someone as a freelancer when their work qualifies them as an employee. Your state labor office can answer specific questions about the laws in your area, and the IRS also has information on this.
“Work closely with your human resources and legal teams, because there are a variety of things to consider,” Britton says.
In the end, clear direction and proper preparation can help your independent contractor hires hit the ground running. The more you can set your freelancer up for success, the more you—and they—will get out of the experience. Use this checklist for your next freelance hire:
- What will the freelancer be doing? What are your goals, deliverables, timeline and other requirements?
- What will the pay structure be? By the hour or by the project? How often will they be paid?
- What qualifications are required for the job?
- What are the freelancer’s references? Have you checked them?
- Do the laws in your area allow you to hire this person as a freelancer versus an employee?
Hire the right people
If you want to hire freelancers, you’ll have to find the right talent. Finding the best independent contractors can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Don’t rely on word of mouth. Let Monster help. Sign up for Monster Hiring Solutions to get access to expert recruiting advice, guidance on the latest hiring trends, and more.