Three keys to hiring a contractor

Photo courtesy of morgueFile user taliesin.

Photo courtesy of morgueFile user taliesin.

Hiring a full time employee doesn’t always make sense. Either the work load isn’t there for a full time position; or the job isn’t a long term part of the company vision and would be better served by a trained outsider. Whatever the reason, hiring a contractor is often a great option for small and medium size business owners who need a little extra help.

Here are three things I would highly recommend checking out before returning the signed proposal to the contractor you want to hire:

  1. Their portfolio
    This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times I was hired as a freelancer without being asked about my portfolio of work. This is the core foundation of a freelancer’s resume and can often be the deciding factor on their qualifications. If you are contracting an illustrator and the candidate you like can only produce a moderately recognizable stick figure at best; this will ultimately cost you time and money to fix in the long run. Vet your candidates’ skill level prior to putting ink on their contract.
  2. Their references
    Verifying references is so critical when hiring a contractor! You may have a very talented coder or designer on the short list; but if they have trouble delivering on time or on budget, then they are not what you need in your business. Ask to speak to their most recent two or three clients as well as one that they have not worked with in the last six months or so. (Many times, you can get these references yourself if they list the companies they produced work for in their portfolio.)
  3. Their process
    Talent and dependability are great; but how well will the contractor fit into your company culture and work schedule? When I was a freelance contractor, I worked extensively with companies on the west coast and even in Australia. In order to do this, I had to be available beyond the typical 5PM Eastern workday that many people prefer to stick with in their businesses. If you are hiring a designer that worked mainly in the late night/early morning hours, you may have communication issues that delay the project and ultimately put you behind the eight ball with management. If your contractor has a unique project management process or payment terms that do not mesh with your company’s policies, the project will cause issues both internally and in the relationship with the contractor.

Vet every prospect thoroughly. Ensure that you are indeed saving time and money by outsourcing the project or look at bringing on the people to do the job in house. Outsourcing is great! But only if it legitimately benefits your company.

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