By Amelia Chew, Content Writer at Dragon Law

As a small business with limited resources, you don’t always have the luxury of hiring a full-time staff for each business function you need fulfilled.

One way meet your role requirements on a shoestring is to consider engaging a freelancer – an option that is not only more cost-effective, but also provides additional flexibility. If you are careful in your selection process, chances are the freelancer could be capable of fulfilling your role requirements just as well, if not better!

How to select the right freelancer for the job

The Top 5 Reasons Why Organisations Are Increasing Their Use of Contingent Talent

  • Leverage the increased availability of expertise
  • Reduce cost
  • Avoid adding permanent headcount
  • Increase the speed of getting things done
  • Challenge our thinking and assumptions with outside ideas

Source: Harvard Business Review

Here are a few quick tips for choosing a freelancer right for your job:

1. Make your organisation attractive to freelancers

While you may think you have your pick with freelancers, successful freelancers also have their pick with clients. So what are freelancers looking for? A portfolio, of course. What’s in it for them? Are you working on an exciting project that delivers impact on the community? Post-completion, will you provide them with a written testimonial? Will they be able to associate themselves with your logo or brand, and claim credit for specific projects?

Aside from credit, flexibility is also the Number 1 thing on a freelancers’ mind – for most of them, this is exactly why they set out to freelance in the first place! What tools and processes do your organisation have in place that will help them work flexibly, or even virtually?

Related reading: The technology tools to help you do more with less in your small business

Lastly, how will you reward them? Freelancers deserve to be paid fairly, so the least you could do is pay them at market rate. When freelancers go above and beyond to deliver your expected output, consider giving them a bonus to show that you appreciate their outstanding service. Words spread quickly in the industry; so cultivate a good reputation for your company and you will be able to attract top freelancers.

Related reading: How to incentivise your employees without burning a hole in your pocket

2. Utilise reliable online freelancer platforms

Freelancer and Upwork are great portals for sourcing for freelancers online. Take your pick of web and mobile developers, designers, customer service agents, consultants, and more – based on ratings that have been given to them based on their past projects.

How to select the right freelancer for the jobSource: Upwork

If you’re a local business requiring field support, consider Singapore-based GrabJobs who provides ready-access to part-time talent, solving big manpower issues for the F&B, Hospitality, Events, Retail, BPO, Warehousing, and Logistics industries.

3. Shortlist based on bid and profiles

Depending on the type of expertise that you require, you might get tons of bids very quickly once you post a job. However, be wary of accepting the cheapest bid even if budget is an important consideration. Shortlist the bids that fall within the acceptable range and check out the online profiles of the bidders. Freelancers who have done previous jobs would have gotten ratings from their clients, which can help you assess their work ethic and reliability. Samples of their past projects can also help you assess whether their style will fit in with what you have in mind.

4. Conduct a test

Once you have shortlisted to about three candidates, test your top candidates to ensure that your freelancer is who they claim to be. The ideal test would be as close as possible to the demands of your job at hand, and take somewhere between 20 minutes to one hour. You should pay the freelancer for the test project, in order to simulate a real working environment and ensure the freelancer puts in his best effort into the test.

Assess whether or not the freelancer has been able to produce a sample piece that meets your criteria. This test portion should allow to more realistically and accurately evaluate the suitability of the applicant, not just in terms of the deliverable, but also in terms of communication, ability to meet deadlines, and overall work ethic.

If you are still unsure about which candidate is the best fit, you can offer each a one-month trial period, which will give you more time to determine which person is the most suitable candidate.

5. Align expectations and onboard

Once you have selected your freelancer, ensure that you align expectations with your freelancers with proper documentation. You need to have a properly drafted Consultancy Agreement that regulates the relationship between your company and the freelancer (or independent consultant) who is not an employee of the company.

Key details that should be included in a Consultancy Agreement include:

  • Scope of the freelancer’s work, the duration of work,
  • Method of payment,
  • Conditions for termination of the relationship, and
  • How intellectual property (IP) created by the freelancer is assigned to your company.

In particular, it is important for you to define clearly who owns the IP rights of the deliverable or work product that your freelancer produces. Not setting this out clearly could lead to disputes concerning the duration for which the IP rights are assigned from the freelancer to your company or what conditions must be fulfilled for the IP rights to be assigned.

Even though freelancers are temporary additions to your company, it is still necessary for you put your freelancer through a proper on-boarding process. This will help connect freelancers with your company’s culture and enable them to approach their work from an employee’s perspective.

  1. Connect them (virtually) into the office. Introduce freelancers to team members via video chat like Skype or Google Hangouts and provide a list of team member names and their contact info.
  2. Gather project documents. Help freelancers get up to speed faster and understand expectations by providing project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information.
  3. Prep the tech. Make a checklist of any systems, applications, and programs they may need to access like VPN or a company file sharing system. You may want to give the freelancer a list of programs and applications in the beginning, so they can make time to familiarize themselves.
  4. Explain the brand. Provide a brand document/brand guidelines and explain the company’s core values, mission, and expectations of freelancers.
  5. Give information in chunks. Freelancers often digest a deluge of project, company, and industry information in a very short time. To prevent overwhelming them and opening the door to possible errors, give information to them in chunks.
  6. Encourage questions. Freelancers should feel able to reach out when needed, or projects may veer off course. Creating a culture where asking questions and sound boarding are encouraged can save potential confusion and time spent correcting errors.

Source: Upwork

Essentially, there is a big pool of flexible talent out there that you can plug in to your company at any moment in order to produce a defined deliverable or fulfil a business function. Leveraging this pool of talent can help your business to save costs while still getting the job done.

Lastly, don’t forget that the freelancer you hire is only as capable as you empower him/her to be: More often than not, freelancer engagements flop not because of the lack of ability of the freelancer; but rather the fault of the organisation for not setting out the right expectations, documenting a clear brief, or executing per the freelancers’ recommendations.

This article is a guest contribution by Dragon Law and first appeared on the Dragon Law blog.

Based in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, Dragon Law offers a cloud-based legal software that allows SMEs to create and sign legal documents online, work with lawyers to handle legal matters and implement best practice business processes.  The result is SMEs saving time and money by actively managing the legal aspects of their business. Since its launch in 2015, Dragon Law has grown to a user base of more than 15,000 SMEs. Dragon Law also partners with an ecosystem of like-minded law firms who share a commitment to making legal services more accessible and affordable for SMEs, through their Premium Plan offerings.