Prior to Hire: Things to Consider When Bringing in Freelancers

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you're debating whether to hire an independent contractor or freelancer, here are five things to consider before signing anything.

In today's modern, more agile business landscape, many companies are choosing the flexibility of outsourcing over completing all tasks in-house. Although full-time employees may be necessary for mission-critical and ongoing projects, as well as filling managerial roles, independent contractors are being called on — now more than ever — to execute a wide breadth of creative, IT, and administrative tasks. If your company is debating whether to hire an independent contractor or freelancer, below are five considerations to ensure your deliverables stay on time and on budget.

Finding the Right Independent Contractor

As the demand for independent contractors increases, especially among small businesses, more qualified professionals are now choosing to provide their services as full-time freelancers. Since the talent pool has deepened, companies must be particularly prudent when fishing for the ideal contractor. Although experience and an impressive portfolio are crucial, it is equally important that the contractor delivers the project on time. A responsible contractor will have no problem providing references and past client testimonials to showcase their ability to meet deadlines and work independently.

Related Article: Contractor or Employee? Important Legal Rulings Employers Should Know

Interviewing Candidates for Freelance Work

Although the interview process of hiring a contractor may be less involved than hiring a full-time employee, vetting candidates meticulously is still important. Hiring the wrong contractor may result in a waste of time, money and resources. The ideal candidate should not only have an impressive portfolio and references, but also experience performing tasks very similar to the job requirements. In other words, an SEO specialist isn't the same as a copywriter, and a copywriter isn't the same as a direct marketing strategist. Discuss the role with the candidate to ensure the applicant has very relevant experience.

Where to Find High-Quality Freelancers

Although posting openings to online job boards is an option, many convenient online platforms for freelance talent are available to match qualified contractors with companies that are hiring. To get a sense of the wide range of talent available, check out this infographic from Elance-oDesk, an online workplace with more than 9 million registered freelancers. Most online platforms allow employers to view a contractor's work history, skill rating, portfolio, and past employer testimonials. While working with freelancers will usually save money, it is important to understand that cheaper is not always better. Your budget and the skill level required to perform the tasks should dictate how you approach a pool of applicants. 

Understanding Your Objectives

Although a full-time employee may wear many hats in the office, an independent contractor is typically hired to perform specific tasks and adhere to a timetable. Before hiring, it is vital for you to understand your goals. How will a freelancer understand the objective and scope of a project if you haven't fully thought it through? Provide a concrete outline of tasks and a schedule for delivery to ensure the contractor is aware of what is expected.

Related Article: We're Living In a Freelancer's Paradise

Monitoring Money Matters

Many employers prefer hiring independent contractors to lower operating costs. Companies don't have to worry about benefits, equipment, office space and other miscellaneous expenses. In most cases, hiring an independent contractor can save you money. However, it's important to understand the tax situation. When you hire a freelancer, you are not required to withhold any taxes. Instead, you must file a 1099-MISC form to report payments. The independent contractor is responsible for filing his or her own taxes.

Based on a survey conducted by the Human Capital Institute, nearly 90% of companies in the U.S. outsource projects. The percentage of outsourced employment has risen from 6 percent in 1990 to more than 27 percent in recent years. Whether your business is increasing staff to alleviate a workload spike, hiring a highly specialized professional on an as-needed basis, or outsourcing certain projects to improve your bottom line, hiring an independent contractor may be a smart business decision, as long as it's approached wisely.

(Image source: Vic Hanacek from Picjumbo.com)

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