Navigating Business

Finding Freelancers During an Economic Downturn

A business owner is finding and interviewing freelancers for work.

Inflation is up, interest rates are rising, and the economic outlook looks a little sketchy.

During an economic downturn, it may be necessary for small and mid-sized businesses to pull back and reduce some of their services or operations. The crucial part is to do so thoughtfully so, as far as your clients are concerned, there is no disruption to their service.

The good news is, businesses of all sizes can achieve a competitive advantage through hiring freelance workers. Hiring freelancers or contract talent can help fill key skill gaps, balance staffing during busy cycles or low times, and more.

Although there is a large pool of talent available in the marketplace, business owners often find it challenging to navigate all of the various freelance platforms and sites, much less sort through the volume of freelancer profiles.

With the gig economy on the rise, an impressive number of freelancers offer a wide range of skills, backed by flexible schedules and reasonable costs. Despite the growth experienced in the last year, there is a huge gap in business owners’ utilization of this talent. A survey by Manta reveals that businesses have been hesitant to take advantage of the ever-growing pool of freelance talent because of the time required to find the right candidate. Closing this gap – matching SMBs with the right freelance fit - can help these companies scale operations much faster.

Finding Freelancers

Elizabeth Eiss, CEO and Founder of ResultsResourcing, points out that many business owners really aren’t prepared for the process of finding and recruiting the right freelance help. “They don't know how to hire the right freelancer. It’s all new to them,” she says. “Going through the process of finding and vetting freelancer workers can be really disheartening.”

For this reason, an increasing number of companies have turned to ResultsResourcing for its curated freelance staffing model.  

The value is simple: ResultsResourcing helps clients determine what they need and then handles interviewing for the role. After the ResultsResourcing team determines that a freelancer has the right skills and traits for a particular job, they conduct a live virtual interview. ResultsResourcing narrows the choices down to a Talent Pool of 3 recommended candidates. Then the client conducts their own interview to make the final selection—knowing they’re selecting from only the best freelance professionals available for their job.

“We really want to get to know the candidates, to understand their personalities and their work styles,” explains Brubacher. “We ask them behavioral work questions. It’s an in-depth interview, to make sure their background, experience, skills and personality are all the right fit.”

“It’s really fulfilling when we get an email back from the client, saying this is the perfect person for their job.” she says.

For many clients new to hiring freelance talent, the biggest obstacle is the reluctance to hire someone working virtually. By opening up to remote work arrangements, clients discover a larger pool of potential freelance talent available across the country and are more likely to find someone with the specific skills and experience required.

Cost savings can also increase by leveraging a remote talent pool. A virtual assistant in a major city, for example, could command $50 or more an hour for their services, Brubacher points out. Someone in a different town, with lower overhead, could bring the same skills for a lower price point.

What to Look for When Finding Freelance Talent

If you decide to find a freelancer or contract talent yourself, develop a thorough approach to vetting credentials.

  • Can the freelancer back up claims of accomplishments and skills with actual jobs and references?
  • Are they willing to provide work samples or participate in a small test assignment to verify skills?
  • Ask the freelancer to be clear about fees and any possible extra charges. In turn, state your budget and make sure they are comfortable with those parameters.
  • Confirm their availability. The best freelancers typically have a number of jobs underway, and a full slate of clients. Find out how much time they really have available to dedicate to your job.
  • Is the freelancer punctual and do they meet deadlines? Finally, do they keep lines of communication open? Do they respond to urgent queries promptly, or are there long delays in communication?
  • Plan on how to integrate the freelancer into the core team. Treat them as a valued team member who is augmenting core team skills, experience and bringing outside perspective.

Find a Freelancer: Challenges and Best Practices

One common challenge in finding freelancer workers occurs when business owners try to find the one person who can do everything. Rather than attempting to find a single freelancer to handle all their requirements, a business owner is better off prioritizing their needs and breaking down jobs down into smaller, more digestible parts. They can then find talent that specialize in the different areas or roles.

Brubacher adds: “It’s not realistic to think one person can be great at everything. You might have a family doctor, but for a heart problem you still need to go to a heart specialist.  Helping people to break down the job to see what those smaller skillsets look like is super important. We work on this with our clients a lot.”

It’s also more cost effective!  The rate for a generalist may be lower but the time to do the work could be longer because the level of specialized expertise in a specific area is missing.  You get more for your dollar by breaking the job down to assign lower cost pieces to a generalist, and the specialized pieces to the expert who may cost more but gets the work done better and in less time.  

When it comes to simplifying the process, Brubacher recommends 3 best practices to help you find the right freelancer.

  • Be clear about your needs and expectations when finding freelancers.
  • Establish an interview process for hiring freelance talent. Take your time, be thorough, and don't deviate from your process.
  • Strong communication is key when hiring freelance workers. Establish your communication requirements and preferences in the beginning to ensure a positive, collaborative partnership.

How ResultsResourcing Can Help

Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring freelance talent on your own will cost your business both time and money. ResultsResourcing streamlines the process by helping clients get clear about what they really need (both skills and experience), and then invites ONLY pre-vetted freelancers to interview for the roles. This saves business owners immeasurable time and ensures that the resources are not only a fit for the role, but a personality and culture fit for the business. This curation process also frees the business owner to focus on growing their business while guaranteeing the best-matched freelance talent for their job, role, or project.

Interested in learning what contract talent can do for your business? Take advantage of our complimentary talent assessment with ResultsResourcing CEO, Elizabeth Eiss. To schedule, CLICK HERE.

ResultsResourcing blog

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