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Hiring freelance talent

Whether a business is going through rapid development, changing management or looking to revamp - manpower and expertise are essential. However, hiring new personnel is not always a viable option, especially when time is precious. Supplementing your workforce with freelancers provides the perfect opportunity to fill gaps in knowledge and relieve pressure when workloads grow unmanageable. While for some the thought of taking on a contractor may be daunting, there are some simple steps to help determine whether their services are right for you and how to build a successful working relationship.

How to find your freelancer

Navigating the world of freelance recruitment can seem like a minefield, but there are four main avenues to consider when finding a contractor.

Agencies – Agencies are a common choice for companies looking to outsource work to the self-employed. The agency handles the candidates, paperwork and invoicing, meaning the client saves valuable time and resources. For a larger company, this may be a more cost-effective method of finding the right person, however, not all agencies will give you the best candidate for your money. Take the time to scope out a reputable company and look at their contract to avoid paying excessive margins. 

Platforms – There are several platforms which are now available to find freelance workers, some which specialise in one area and others that encompass all skills. Websites such as Upwork provide services across multiple disciplines, from accounting and admin to writing and design. The freelancer advertises their profile and rates and can be contacted via the platform. Examples of more specific groups include HomeTouch, Talmix and Brigade, who provide freelance work for carers, business consultancy and hospitality services respectively.

Invitations – Often, a company will commission a variety of prospective contractors to respond to a chosen brief or provide their initial thoughts. In doing this, the client can gain a deeper understanding of the contractor’s abilities and vision for a project, more so than a pitch would provide. This also benefits the freelancer, as they are properly compensated for their time and ideas.

Recommendations – Of course, while there are many methods you can use to seek out freelance talent, recommendations and networking are a steadfast way to find a candidate for a project. Most freelancers will have an online portfolio that makes it easy to get an overall impression of their work. 

Working with your freelancer 

Project Brief

It is good practice to outline an initial brief so that all parties involved understand the expectations and parameters of the work. While you might not know the entire breadth of your project at its beginnings, creating a strong brief will provide a launchpad that can be referred back to for the duration of the venture. Consulting your chosen freelancer can help you pin down exactly what is needed, as they will provide their expertise and objective opinion. As you are paying specifically for their services, it is best to ensure that they can be their most productive, and a clear statement of intent can help with this.

Contracts

Freelancers are accountable for their own work, meaning any failure to deliver on agreed terms resides with the freelancer, not the commissioner. It is crucial to establish in your contract that your working relationship is between two businesses, not between an employer and employee. By treating the contractor as a supplier of a product rather than personnel, you comply with the IR35 guidelines and can avoid any intervention from the HMRC. You can leave contracts to a third party, such as an agency, or use a contract review service, such as the one that IPSE, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed provides if you need further advice. In fact, IPSE now offers an ‘IR35 friendly’ contract template, which members are welcome to use.

Resources

Once the brief and contracts have been resolved, it’s time to consider resources. Will your chosen contractor need to access shared drives? Require clearances? Ensuring these necessities are in place prior to the start of your freelancer’s contract means your investment is spent on valuable work, not on administration.

Communication

Productive collaboration between a business and a freelancer requires open and clear communication. By working closely together with a contractor, project owners can see how their idea can develop from an expert’s perspective, and gain insider knowledge into that field. 

Good working relationships with freelancers can be extremely valuable, with contractors frequently returning to work with companies on successful endeavours. It is well worth looking after and learning from them, as there is a lot to gain from their contributions. 

For more information on whether hiring a freelancer is the right decision for you, take a look at IPSE’s guide, Flex - An agile approach to talent management in the digital economy.