How to Hire the Best Freelancers When Building a Remote Team

June 29, 2021 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Building remote teams is nothing new, as many startups have been operating under this model for many years. However, it became more widespread, adaptable and accepted during the global pandemic.

Companies were forced to pivot to a remote-working environment, and even now with many areas opening back up, many are choosing to continue to operate virtually. Why is this? Some realized that it’s very possible to run a company with a remote workforce; others see that their employees like working remotely and are more productive, and then you have the cost-savings factor.

This sudden shift has caused the demand for freelancers and remote workers to spike. While there is still a lot of top talent available, there has also been an influx of unqualified applicants added to the pool.

If you are contemplating building a remote team or having trouble hiring top-quality freelancers, these tips should help you hire the best available talent for your needs.

Ask fellow entrepreneurs for referrals

With so many businesses going full-time remote, there is a good chance that some of your fellow business owners and friends within your circle have some good recommendations in terms of talent sources and suggestions.

Hiring a remote content writer and a remote back-end developer requires two completely different approaches. A writer is going to be a much less involved process. Hiring someone to write a few blog posts per month requires a different screening and qualification process than hiring someone to handle back-end development work for a SaaS company.

Firing off a few emails and text messages to your circle of entrepreneurial friends is a great starting point.

Related: The Key to Hiring the Best Employees

Conduct your search on multiple freelance marketplaces

Never limit your search to just one freelance marketplace, as many talented candidates don’t register for all of them. Post your jobs on major players in the space like Freelancer, UpWork and Toptal. 

It’s worth the extra effort to create profiles on each platform and post your requirements on all available options. You want to attract the largest pool of talent to select from, so don’t take the lazy route and just assume you will find what you are looking for on the site you assume to be the best.

If you create very detailed listings and make clear what you want and don’t want, you will limit the number of low-quality applicants and receive talent more aligned with your needs, which takes us right to the next tip.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Freelancer

Clearly define the job requirements and qualifications

The more clear you are about what you are hiring for, what you expect, what the qualifications are, and what the job description is, the better qualified your applicants will be.

This will also reduce the number of unqualified applicants clogging up your inbox.

If you are too generic, you will receive interest from a very broad range of talent. Take the time to spell out exactly what you want and what you are looking for. Doing this will help you attract the best possible candidates to select from.

Related: What Is a Freelance Agency, and How Can I Build One?

Put prospective freelancers through an intense interview process

Hiring for a remote position still requires a thorough interview process, and there are certain things you can do to help you quickly narrow your talent pool to the best qualified candidates.

Include a “qualifier” in the job application process. This can be something very simple, like asking candidates to upload a 60-second video on explaining why they are the best candidate for the position, and including a link to the video in their response. If they cannot follow a simple instruction, delete them, as they are not attentive to details.

Always have a video call with prospective hires. Nothing gives you a better feel for who they are than seeing them and interacting with them face-to-face.

Confirm references. Don’t be afraid to contact their past employers. A simple email or phone call can save you from hiring someone who has issues or drawbacks that don’t surface right away.

You can also give potential hires some test assignments and tasks to get a real feel for how they will perform on the job. Anyone can look good on paper. You often need to see how he or she works in the real world and with your team to truly evaluate his or her potential.

Hire slow and fire fast

This might be the most important tip. Always take your time when hiring, and don’t feel rushed to hire immediately. You want to make sure you hire the right person for the job. There is a lot of available talent out there, and it might take a while to sift through it all.

Also, mistakes happen, and sometimes you will hire someone who turns out to be the complete opposite of who you thought they were. In this case, fire fast. The longer you keep someone around that is bad for your company, the more damage he or she will do. Remove a cancerous team member from the equation as quickly as possible.

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