Do a quick tour of any HR or recruiting website, and you’ll see at least one mention of the “gig economy.” Recent research shows a growing number of Americans – almost a third – consider themselves independent contractors or freelancers. And the vast majority of those workers became free agents by choice, not because of economic conditions or layoffs.
What this means for employers is that a growing body of experience and skills is available on a contract basis from these workers. That’s a huge boon for employers, but it’s not without some pitfalls.
Hiring an independent contractor could be the perfect solution to your hiring woes, but you need to be just as diligent in screening these types of hires as you are traditional employees. In this slideshow, eaHELP‘s President Tricia Sciortino has identified the top five things to look for when hiring independent contractors.
Hiring Independent Contractors
Click through for five things you should look for when hiring an independent contractor, as identified by Tricia Sciortino, president at eaHELP.
Contractors may be offsite and not regularly seen by your team, so they need to be prompt in responding to all kinds of queries. They need to tell you and your team, often, what’s getting done and how things are moving forward. Start gauging responsiveness and availability from the very first interaction you have with a contractor. If their replies and responses aren’t coming fast enough for you in the hiring process, that’s not going to get better once you enter into a working relationship.
You can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude. Make sure, even in an independent contractor role, that you’re hiring not only the right skills but also the right attitude – and vice versa. Independent contractors, as a very general rule, need to be self-directed and proactive so they can work on their own and anticipate the information and tools they’re going to need to get the work done you’ve hired them to do. A cultural or attitude mismatch – even in a contractor – can quickly damage your entire team.
“Embellishing” a resume or work experiences is unfortunately nothing new, but with the advent of social media it’s getting easier to figure out whether or not that experience really happened. Organizations should also ask for work samples and portfolios from contractors, and put them through our own skills assessments based on the positions they’re trying to fill. And check references – a lot.
Just because someone is a contractor doesn’t mean they’re not a professional. Expect contractors to present themselves in a professional manner in every interaction. Independent contractors are marketing themselves and their experiences as worth our time and money, so they need to look like it, act like it, and dress like it to an appropriate extent.
Knowledge – or Willingness to Get It
As mentioned before, contractors need to be self-directed and proactive. You can find out fairly quickly whether someone is willing to dive into their knowledge gaps or run away from them. When adding contractors to your team, look for people who will say, “I don’t know, but I’m going to figure it out…” and then do that very thing.