Try before you “buy” – freelancer based staffing approach

Try before you “buy” – freelancer based staffing approach

Did you know that according to the World Bank, almost half of the global workforce is now freelancing? And while we have plenty to say about the personal benefits of freelancing, working with freelancers has proven to be an advantage for the companies as well. It offers flexibility, increased project capacity, and added expertise without the overhead of traditional employees.

And since we mentioned employees, we have to note that working with freelancers is also a good way to recruit new team members. It provides beneficial insights into whether this individual could be a good fit for the role and the existing team.

"Try before you buy" is a staffing approach that allows companies to assess the skills, work ethic, and cultural fit of a freelancer before committing to a long-term engagement. This goes hand in hand with skills-based hiring, which has become increasingly popular amid the recent tight labor market, which is pushing companies to try unorthodox approaches to finding employees. In fact, 73 percent of employers used skills-based hiring last year, up from 56 percent in 2022, according to a survey of 3,000 international workers and employers by Amsterdam-based TestGorilla, a talent assessment platform.*

Sounds interesting? Here are 4 tips that will help you excel in freelancer staffing:

Define what skills are non-negotiable

As the freelance market becomes increasingly crowded, you need to define what are the main requirements you're looking for. Thoroughly examine what skills and characteristics are necessary for each position, which are open for discussion, and which are non-negotiable. This will help you to find the right freelancers to work with and evaluate the freelancer's technical skills, communication abilities, and adherence to deadlines. For example, you might need a graphic designer who can also illustrate and it is non-negotiable, because half of the work is illustrations, but you don't need them to know how to prepare documents for printing or how to prepare html banners. This set of guidelines will help you to stay consistent and choose the right person for the job.

Start small and gradually scale up

You want to start with a small project-based trial. Assign them a task that you need to get done, but that isn't a big-scale project. It will help both sides to get to know each other, get accustomed to mutual communication styles, and workflow organization, and evaluate each other's suitability for a longer-term arrangement. Better communication and understanding of “what is needed of me” will help the freelancer and your team to feel more secure in overall processes. In the end, this mutual trust will help you to save time and money when approaching larger projects (fewer check-ins, meetings, questions, and mistakes in collective workflow). 86% of global business leaders said the effective management of external contributors was critical to their organization’s overall performance**.

Don't underestimate the Cultural Fit Evaluation

Team culture can make or break you. The feeling of belonging and being accepted is vital for individual mental health, self-confidence, motivation, and efficiency. The better your team works together, the better your business will do. That is why companies should always assess how well the freelancers work with the rest of their team. This includes factors like collaboration, attitude, and alignment with company values. Ask your team for their feedback – what's good, what's challenging, what can be improved and then do the same round of questions with freelancers. You have to spend some time, to save more time in the long run.

Transition to Long-Term Engagement

Keep in mind that the gig economy flourishes because more and more people are freelancing by their choice and they are proving to be a great asset to a lot of companies. Although they work with in-house teams, 51% of freelancers say no amount of money would convince them to return to a traditional job.** They have quit their 9 to 5 jobs and stability to gain freedom, but it doesn't mean that freelancers are less demanding of professional behavior. Therefore make sure to always treat freelancers with the same respect as you would treat your in-house employees:

  • pay in time
  • be polite and professional
  • communicate clear cooperation goals
  • listen to their ideas, because you are hiring talent

And if both parties are satisfied with the trial period, discuss the option of a longer-term engagement. It can be on a project-by-project basis or as a retained freelancer, just keep in mind that good freelancers are a great asset to keep in your corner.

*Source: The State of Skills-Based Hiring 2023, TestGorilla
** Source: A Workforce Ecosystem Orchestration Framework 2023, MIT Sloan

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