Will you try to find a freelancer from your network or via an online freelance platform? Or will you let a recruitment agent do the work? This is a discussion that many companies have on a daily basis. Their search often starts with an internal email like this: “Does anyone know a good freelance Digital Marketer?”, “Does everyone want to share this contract on LinkedIn?”. Lots of shoot-in-hope messages later and hopefully the prefect freelancer lands in your lap. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many employers.
With this in mind, here are 6 steps to help you carry out a targeted search. Allowing you to find the best freelancer for your assignment in as short a time as possible.
- Step 1. Clearly describe the freelancer you need
- Step 2. Find a freelance platform that suits you
- Step 3. Select and contact preferred freelancers
- Step 4. Respond to their messages and queries
- Step 5. Engage with those freelancers
- Step 6. For the future: Building your own freelance pool
You will also find a number of important questions and answers about our freelance platform at the bottom of this article.
Step 1. Clearly describe the freelancer you need
They say that good preparation is half the work. It is key to be crystal clear about what you want to achieve in working with the freelancer. This means you should sketch a clear picture of who you need, for how long and what challenges you would like them to address in their time with you.
While this doesn’t need to be a fully formed picture of everything you will need, a good impression will definitely help speed up the process.
What does such an outline need to say?
- What do you want to achieve or what is the ‘problem’ you want to solve?
- What activities are required for this?
- How much time will this take approximately?
- What budget is available for this?
- Do you have specific results in mind?
Note: You might not want to lock everything down very tightly. Sometimes it is better to leave some things slightly open so that you can see the responses from different freelancers to begin with. For example, an estimation of budget and hours is useful, but you may find that a more expensive freelancer can complete the project twice as quickly. A range is good, but don’t pin it down completely.
Our Limerick-based company is in a growth phase. This means that in six months we will almost double in terms of full time employees, from 25 to 40 people. Within our current team, we need a Recruiter / HR Specialist. Therefore, we are looking for a freelancer who can support us in the coming six months to find the right people for our team i.e. 7 developers, 1 product owner, 5 marketers, 3 account managers and 4 customer service / back office employees.
- Recruitment + HR activities. At the moment all HR related tasks are performed by one of our marketers.
- Estimated hours: 2 days per week for 6 months.
- Between €200 and €300 per day
- At the end of the process, I hope we will meet our recruitment goals and have a clear on-boarding process for new employees.
Step 2: Find a freelance platform that suits you
Freelance platforms are growing strongly and that’s a good thing! The most well known at the moment are:
Freelancers and employers are active internationally / worldwide on Upwork. Upwork is a marketplace for freelancers in the fields of web development, copywriting, design, sales, marketing, data science and engineering. Freelancers can create a free account, but pay a ‘fee’ based on the amount they earn through Upwork. Clients creating accounts must choose from different account types ranging from free to $849 per month or a custom account.
Fiverr is an international platform, focused on the ‘gig economy’. This means that it is especially suitable for short, one-off jobs. Active in the fields of: Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Programming, Music & Audio. Creating an account is free, but when you complete a job as a freelancer, Fiverr gets 20% of the amount that you get paid. As a client you pay $2 per assignment under $ 40 and you pay 5% for assignments over $40.
Jellow is an online freelance platform aimed at the Irish, Dutch and Belgian market. The freelancers at Jellow are active in business services, specifically in: Sales, Marketing & Communication, HR, Finance, Development, Legal, Design, Coaching and IT. Freelancers can register for free with Jellow, only freelancers with a fully completed profile are visible to clients in the network. Clients can take out a monthly subscription for €499 for the first month and €249 for the month(s) that follow. Discounts are available depending on your circumstance. There is better value to be had for annual subscriptions. This allows them to place unlimited assignments and hire freelancers. You never have to pay a margin to the recruitment agent. It’s also completely free for freelancers.
In addition, you can actively build your personal freelance pool at Jellow. That means, always have all the freelancers with whom you have already worked with, are working with now, or interesting profiles with which you want to work together in the future.
Why would you choose a freelancer platform?
Companies and other organisations see value in using a freelance platform for one or more of the following reasons:
- Speed: Employers often want to immediately see what freelancers are available the minute an assignment / project becomes live. A freelance platform offer them the speed at which to do this. No dance with a recruitment agency needed.
- Quality: Freelance platforms such as Jellow provide the opportunity to apply filters such as work experience or, for example, filling in a soft skill or specific skill that you as a client find important. Thus ensuring a better quality match.
- Costs: Freelance platforms offer the opportunity to save time and money. Searching is now quicker and can be done by the hiring manager themselves. You also don’t have to pay a finder fee or percentage of the contractor’s rate to a recruitment agent. That makes a big difference if you have a long project. For example, imagine you are looking for a freelancer for 10 days, at a daily rate of €485. The commission you pay to an agent at 15% works out as €728. Much cheaper to get a monthly or annual subscription from Jellow.ie
- Transparency: You can see exactly which projects or assignments you have placed, which freelancers have responded, how many hours they have worked, how much you have spent etc. Overall, a very transparent and manageable process.
- Convenience: Freelance platforms are becoming much more user-friendly. This means that you can log in 24/7, quickly search and engage with freelancers.
In addition to a freelance platform, there are more options to consider. You may have already tried one or more from the following list :
- Your own network
- Social media
- A recruitment agency
- Another software tool
Your Own Network
If you can find a freelancer from your own network, great. But is always the best thing to do? A freelancer platform allows you to see if you arr really engaging the very best freelancer for your needs.
Wouldn’t to be great if everyone’s own network was large and diverse with a choice of experienced and affordable freelancers? Unfortunately, not everyone is in this position. Ask yourself, how strong is your network in reality? To what extent can you say that the people from your own network meet what your organisation needs? In many situations, you need real expertise, not just another pair of hands to help out. We’ll discuss later how you can learn more about benchmarking freelancers so as to secure the very best.
LinkedIn is often the first medium that comes to mind when looking for a freelancer. Connecting to LinkedIn can be very important, especially for engaging with freelancers. Nonetheless, freelancers don’t spend all day on LinkedIn searching for assignments or projects. If you’re posting your freelancer opportunity publicly, be aware that it can reach just about anyone. That probably also means that you will receive a lot of responses, some relevant many not so.
“Did you know that many (freelance) developers are no longer active on LinkedIn because they got distracted from the amount of messages they receive with ‘job offers’?”
A Recruitment Agency
Employers who opt for recruitment agencies often do this because they do not have time to search for a freelancer themselves, do not have an extensive network and because these agencies can also arrange contracts. However, you pay for this privilege. Sometimes, the process is often very slow as there are many steps required to find the perfect candidate. Issuing a brief, clarifying the brief, chasing the agent, reviewing the CVs sent over etc.
Another software tool
Your organisation might already use specific software to find a freelancer, such as an internal freelance management system? Implementing such a system and ensuring that everyone in the company uses it can take some time. There are set up and maintenance costs too. It’s a useful option if you have long-term and frequent freelancer requirements. Not so good if you want to access the latest talent and do so quickly.
Step 3. Select freelancers
When you’ve found a freelance platform that suits you, it’s time you post or share your project with some freelancers. Think about the criteria that the freelancer ‘must’ meet. Think of their location, work experience or, for example, a specific skill. You can start your search based on these criteria. Below you will find two examples.
Example criteria of a PHP developer:
- Title: PHP developer
- Skill: PHP / Fullstack developer
- Experience: Senior, 7+ experience
- Environment: work from home / max. 1 hour from Dublin
- Remote: Yes, but preferably once a week at the office
- Availability: 3 days a week, for 6 months
- Soft Skills: Ability to work on own initiative
- Side note: The candidate will temporarily lead a project with 3 more junior / mid level programmers, which means that some experience of leadership / managing is a plus.
And another example is the HR Manager:
- HR Manager
- Skill: Shaping the entire HR process and managing the HR department, consisting of two HR advisers, one HR administrative staff and two corporate recruiters.
- Experience: 10+ years of experience
- Environment: work from home / max. 1 hour from Cork
- Remote: Yes, but preferably twice a week at the office
- Availability: minimum 4 days per week
- Preferences: Preferably in a corporate environment (finance)
- Soft Skill : People-oriented with an eye for detail
At Jellow you can choose to first select freelancers with whom you want to share your project. This is great for the freelancers as they will receive a relevant project quickly. This will inspire them to send a meaningful response or at least make a connection with your company for the future. For employers, this means you will not have to respond to hundreds of freelancers, many of whom will have sent a ‘hot-in-hope’ reply to a publicly posted project.
Step 4. Respond to Replies from Freelancers
If you ask people to respond to your project or assignment and receive replies, it’s always a good idea to reply. Even if it is to be polite and make a connection. You never know when you might meet or need them again. This is need not be onerous and you will have pre-selected which freelancers to contact in the first place. Remember, it is about quality and not quantity. The more targeted you target, the less likely you are to get dozens (or more) of responses, saving you time at the end of the day d to them.
It is good for freelancers to know where they stand and where you are in the hiring process. In addition, it is also extremely important for the image of your company. If you were to apply somewhere, but no effort is made to respond to you and you don’t hear anything at all, would your image of the company change?
Moreover, freelancers also have a large network and of course they speak to each others. Project work and employers is naturally discussed. What was the project like? Were they a good employer? Would you recommend them? You cannot underestimate the effect or influence of your behaviour has on that recommendation. Therefore, if you take the time to reply to freelancers personally, you will only benefit.
Step 5. Engaging your freelancers
This step actually ties in with Step 4, but goes further. Engaging freelancers goes hand in hand with employer branding.
“Employer branding is the creation and / or maintenance of a certain authenticity with the aim of engaging and captivating employees. That particular authenticity is your employer brand, in other words: your right to exist, mission, goal, norms & values, (work) environment, etc.” – Mark Vletter from NRC
Employer branding is important for companies attract employees who are inspired by the company’s vision. This should also be reflected in the work environment, way of working, activities, etc. This goes further than adding a ping-pong table or espresso machine.
“As a company you have to ask yourself: who are we as an organisation and what makes our organisation so much fun? That makes you authentic, also in your recruitment drive” – Mark Vletter from NRC. This applies equally to hiring freelancers or professional contractors. The clearer your brand is as an employer, the faster you will find freelancers who also want to work for you.
Although employer branding often plays an important role within permanent employment, it is gradually becoming increasingly important within the freelance market. For example when it comes to engaging freelancers and keeping them interested in your company. Especially if you want to work with a freelancer for a longer period of time, or if you have short assignments for a freelancer, several times a year. All too often it is forgotten to engage freelancers with the organisation. You can think of very simple things like giving a Christmas card or gift or involving freelancers in company outings / events. You can also go deeper and examine the on-boarding and the letting-go of freelancers. In addition, how about actively maintaining the freelance pool when freelancers are not currently carrying out an assignment? Keep them updated on your company’s progress or news. As a start, you could look at how current freelancers think about these things, survey them. What do they like or dislike?
Step 6. Build your own freelance pool
Do you know all the freelancers you have worked with or who have worked at your company? Do you have up-to-date information about them? Could you get in touch at any time to ask if they are interested in an assignment?
If your answer is no, consider starting your own freelance pool. Especially if you regularly hire freelancers. An online freelance pool ensures that you have information about potential freelancers available at all times. You’ll know about their more recent experience, new skills, updated rates, availability and so on.
Keeping in touch with good freelancers is extremely important in this regard. Start by selecting the freelancers that you or your company has worked with successfully in the past. You can then ask them to join your freelance pool in Jellow for example.
Originally published on Jellow.nl by Susan Mulder here: https://www.jellow.nl/blog/freelancer-vinden-stappenplan
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