PeaceA little more than one-third of the U.S. workforce is freelancing — and honestly, companies should be thrilled. Hiring contractors, with their flat or on-commission fees, can decrease payroll spending by at least 20 percent. Moreover, freelancers give you the chance to introduce a new personality with different ideas to the workplace, which can inspire employees to refresh their commitments to your company.

So, the question isn’t “Should I work with freelance talent?” Rather, the real question is, “How do I go about finding, hiring, and managing the right freelancer for the job?”

Where to Begin the Hunt

The first step in any talent acquisition venture is to determine the job’s parameters. No candidate — not even a knowledgeable freelance professional — can succeed without direction. Clearly define the responsibilities, deliverables, and goals of the position before preparing to discuss it all in detail.

When it comes to contractors, clearly defining the role is crucial. Many freelancers work remotely and prefer to keep that flexibility, while others simply have routines that work, and they’d rather stick to those routines than uproot themselves for you.

Are you comfortable with contact via telephone and video conferencing, or would you rather the contractor be in your city for weekly meetings? Where do you see some leeway, and where is there no room to budge? As the potential manager of these freelance workers, it is important that both you and the contractor are satisfied with the relationship. The only way you can make the right decision is by knowing what works for you and the company and what simply does not.

Finding the Free Bird

It stands to reason that the increase in freelancers is a direct result of the growth in technology (69 percent of freelancers agree with this assessment). Millennials, the generation that will make up the majority of the workforce by 2020, seem to really like the look of freelancing.

What do we know about this optimistic and entrepreneurial group? They were basically born with technology in their palms. To find freelancers, then, means turning to the places where they spend their tech time.

BicycleMany websites aim to match talented freelance professionals with the businesses that need them, but these marketplaces aren’t the only options. When your company is in need of freelance talent, you may want to tap into your personal and professional network. The best people for the job might be sitting right there on LinkedIn!

When you find ‘someone who knows someone,’ as they say, you stand a better chance of getting the results you need. Freelancers want referrals, just like you do, and are excited to work with clients introduced by previous partners.

When of a Feather, Keep It Together

It’s always a good idea to start small and work toward a larger end goal. Begin your relationship with a freelancer by asking them to complete some sort of quick task that will demonstrate their range, style, and understanding of your company.

This is as much a test for the organization as it is for the freelancers: the results will determine whether or not the two are a good match for one another. That being said, you should be prepared to compensate the freelancer for their time.

Once you have a freelancer’s resume, contact information, work samples, you should keep it all organized and together. A digital file will work just fine. Store the information in a desktop folder, or upload it into your ATS. Whatever works for you is fine. This way, when you need a freelancer again in the future, you can revisit past freelancers and find the right one for the new job.

Consider referring successful contractors to your network, too. Freelancers are always on the look out for new clients, and you’ll definitely be one of their favorites if you help them land new business.

Roughly 53 million Americans are now doing some sort of freelance work, and that number is steadily rising. The benefits of bringing in these freelancers when workloads skyrocket are numerous, but finding, hiring, and managing contractors will always be a challenge. The key is to embrace technology and leverage your current tools and networks to find the perfect freelancers for your company.

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