Finding great employees is not an easy task and probably one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a boss. As you grow your experience, it becomes easier to sort through great talent and passion but it doesn’t always start off that way. Finding an employee or freelancer who is qualified AND passionate about their work AND has a strong sense of business AND is self disciplined is like looking for a spouse on Tinder. So be ready to do a lot of swiping before eventually tumbling on the right one.
Remember, the traits you value in a freelancer or employee are the same ones your potential clients will look for in you. Not only do your employees need to meet a certain standard to work for you but also need to meet those same standards with your clients.
#1. Check out their portfolio
Portfolios are bragging grounds. They’re also a great place to evaluate someone’s standards. Are broken links ok with them? Are missing images, or misaligned text acceptable to them? You can easily predict the quality of work you’ll be getting by the quality of work your potential freelancer or employee is displaying in their portfolio.
#2. Look at their resume
Check out their resume. Are they qualified to build websites? You may not need any qualifications to sell websites other than resilient character traits and I get it, your nephew who’s graduating pre-k in two years can build his own app but you certainly need to hire someone with formal training when it comes to programming. Have they worked in the industry? Are they currently employed as a web designer? Remember, designing a website is much easier than troubleshooting that same website. True talent arises in the midst of chaos.
#3. Call their references
If your freelancer has accumulated some experience then they should also have a list of references ready to hand out. Use this opportunity to do a quick background check before finding things out on your own the hard way. Do they deliver on time? Do they deliver on budget? Do they do what they say? Are they easy to reach? To talk to? Having prior knowledge to these questions is much preferable than having to find them our on your own.
#4. Meet them
We live in interesting times when we’re a few short milestones away from having our spouses tailored, ordered and delivered to us by an Amazon drone on a square pad in the backyard.
So I get that it’s not necessary to meet anyone at this point. But if your programmer is local or not far away, meet them. There’s a huge difference when you deal with someone you’ve met face to face and dealing with a faceless avatar online. The relationship becomes more personal and the commitment is much stronger, both from you and from your freelancer.
#5. Talk to them
Weird, right? When was the last time your phone rang instead of getting a text? But it’s important to speak to your freelancer or potential employee. You don’t want to hire a mumbling moron who’s every other word is fuck. I know, I get it: swearing is trendy but the trend will pass and you will be left with an employee who may or may not have to speak on your behalf to your clients and you want to ensure that they are representing you correctly or the same way you would represent yourself.
#6. Check out their social media
Stalk them. The way they represent themselves online may not be accurate in real life but it accurately describes what they consider to be their best self; what they value, what they represent, their likes and groups they join. All these represent the person they are or want to be and it’s completely acceptable to past judgement on everything they share with the mass public.
#7. Evaluate their writing skills
Whether by text or by email, evaluate their skills in writing. Im not suggesting they be scholars or novelists. But they should be able to form a legible sentence. You should be able to understand them when they communicate with you. There may come a time when they’re dealing with your clients and their qualifications will reflect on your judgement.
#8. Judge their response time
Do you text them and have to wait 3 days to get a response? Do you email them and then hear from them sometime down the line? Their answers don’t have to be immediate. After all, it’s much easier to receive and see a text message or an email, but it’s not always as convenient to answer back. But there is still an acceptable timeline. ASSUME your text was seen nearly immediately. Unless you’re dealing parents with extremely young kids, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t check their dinging phones immediately like Pavlovian dogs. Rest assured, they saw your text. Even if they’re busy, even if they don’t answer.
But all texts and emails should be responded to in a reasonable time. And the more urgent the text or email, the quicker they should answer. There will come a time when they will have to be available ALL OF A SUDDEN and you should trust that you’ll be able to reach them and they’ll evaluate the urgency accordingly.
#9. Give them a small project
Test them out before handing over a huge project. Maybe they can update something on your website, or maintain an existing client’s e-commerce. Their work method on a smaller project will give you a good indication of what to expect on bigger projects.
#10. Someone like you or better
Ever wish you can clone yourself? There will come a time where you won’t have much choice. The more projects you take on, the more help you’ll need and the more chance you’ll have to depend on someone else. Make sure the person you hire shares your same standards and your same aspirations. They will treat every client and every project exactly the same you would.
The most ideal solution is to hire someone who is better than you. I hate to break it to you but you are not perfect. You may be all things great but you do have some things you do less well than others. Your employee or freelancer should compliment your weakness.
What character trait do you value most in a freelancer or employee?