By Karthik Sridharan
Speed and efficiency are crucial when you are starting out in today’s competitive market. However, when you are a newcomer and aiming to scale fast, it can be difficult to achieve your goals at the pace you desire when you’re relying only on internal resources. That is when it becomes necessary to grow your business using freelance developers.
Initially, a clear distinction needs to be made between evaluating developers for full-time positions vis-a-vis freelancing roles in your company. Freelancers usually work on short-term, remote engagements, require no training, and are expected to make judgement calls. Understanding the difference between their skill sets and those of full-time employees can make a big difference in your hiring strategy.
4 Skills to Look for in a Freelancer
Take a look at these four important skills that you should be looking out for while hiring a freelancer.
1. Technical Skills
New full-time employees usually have an on-boarding period when they are trained and exposed to the organization. It is quite different with regards to freelancers, who are often hired for short-term engagements that mandate minimal or no training. Therefore, it is imperative to find freelancers who can hit the ground running.
Every freelancer you are considering should possess appropriate technical skills that you need for the project. While you may look for coding aptitude and learning abilities in a full-time hire, they are not necessary for freelance developers and are in fact, an inaccurate way of judging them.
2. Client References
An interview always helps you make a personal judgement about a developer, but it will not help you gauge how the person would react in a realistic work environment. That is where client references become valuable.
You should always reach out to previous clients and verify the developer’s technical credentials and, more importantly, soft skills. Freelancers often have client names on their portfolios, testimonials on their websites, and/or ratings on freelancing portals. If a person has no freelancing experience, you can reach out to his/her past employer to get additional context.
3. Communication Skills
Good communication skills are important in every professional relationship. However, they become especially critical for freelancers because they are located remotely and don’t work out of your office. In such scenarios, poor communication can cause misunderstandings and breed mistrust, particularly at the beginning of an engagement where both parties are skeptical about one another. Poorly written emails, a need to follow-up multiple times, lack of clarity on deadlines even during the hiring process are key signs to note.
4. Remote Working Experience
Being able to work remotely in an efficient manner is a skill that not everybody possesses. Remote work involves a lot of diversions and challenges. Apart from good communication, a freelancer should be focused, stay proactive, maintain good documentation, manage time effectively, and be up-to-date with relevant tools to aid remote working. Therefore, a person who has already worked remotely definitely deserves brownie points as he/she is very likely to be equipped with such skills.
Two Factors That Should Not Play a Big Role In Your Hiring Decision
Having discussed the skills that you should be looking for in freelancers, here are a couple of factors that you should not base your hiring decisions on.
1. Aptitude Tests
A developer has to possess smart coding skills, but it does not make sense to evaluate freelancers solely on coding aptitude tests. While a developer looking for a full-time position will surely invest time in preparing for these aptitude tests, a freelancer can’t be expected to. He/she will be more keen on finding opportunities that suit his/her exact technical and soft skill sets. In such cases, by conducting aptitude tests, you might end up creating false negatives – rejecting candidates who are actually suited for the job.
2. College Credentials
Another common parameter used in hiring professionals is the college brand that they hail from. While it may seem tempting and straightforward to base your decision on college credentials, they do not give an accurate picture of a freelancer’s skills. As discussed, freelancing hires should be based on skillset. Therefore, base your judgement on capabilities and expertise rather than a carried-forward legacy.
Following the key principles mentioned above can make your life a lot simpler. As Nasdaq said, freelance workforce is predicted to rise to 43% in the next few years, so, now is probably the best time to jump on the bandwagon.
However, work for a company does not end with the hiring. Deep thought needs to be put into the execution of the engagement. But the journey always begins by finding the right freelance developer to work with who can steer your company to greater heights.