Putting your Foot Down with Contractors Part II

Devon-McDonald by

Are you an expansion stage business that is potentially looking to use contractors?

If so, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is always best to utilize your network if you are a hiring a external professional to take on certain responsibilities that will boost productivity within your business. Update your status on LinkedIn: “Does anyone have any recommendations for a standout freelancer to help us with our… ?” Also, try posting your position on Junta42 a site that will help you attract high quality professional individuals who are suited for your role.

So what if your network is providing you no guidance, and you need someone to start working on a project as soon as possible?

Depending on the urgency of the situation, it may be time to post your freelancing position on Craigslist. Be prepared! Within hours of your job description going up, you are going to be flooded with resumes. Depending on the position that you have posted, I would guess that 10 out of every 100 applicants you get will be worth your while. Make sure that you have allotted yourself an appropriate amount of time to keep this process organized.At the end of the day, there are a lot of people out there looking for extra cash and you are going to have to do quite a bit of filtering.

Once you have narrowed your way down to your top group of resumes, even if this position is a contract role, make time to get to know your top 3-5 candidates. Schedule a 15-20 minute call with them. It is important to assess: Why is this person interested in the position? What else is this individual working on the moment that could distract him/her from your assignment? What is this person’s personality type, and can you see yourself working with that personality type?

This person doesn’t have to be your best friend, but if there is a definite personality clash on the first call, it might be time to head back to the drawing board.

In addition to the initial screening call, if the person you are looking to bring on board is a creative, and you are hiring for a specific marketing role, ask for samples of their work, and also give them an assignment to complete as part of your interview process. The serious candidates will make your task top priority. This will help you see who’s truly interested in the opportunity.

Once you have your completed your initial screening of the best candidates and you feel like you’ve got the cream of the crop, there are three key next steps.

a. Reference Checks. Ask your candidate for four professional references. These references should be people that this person has reported directly to in a recent role. Aim to a connect with at least two of those individuals. Here is a site that lists a number of questions you could ask during a reference check: Sample Reference Check Questions.
b. Propose a trial period to your top candidate. This is an opportunity for you to really get a feel for the freelancer’s style, their strengths, and perhaps their weaknesses.
b. Create a contract or Statement of Work to clarify the terms of the engagement. We typically advise our expansion stage portfolio companies to utilize our Legal Principal, Jeremy Aber, who specializes in technology and law, for this sort of matter.

OpenView Venture Partners is a Boston venture capital firm, and our strategic consulting services arm, OpenView Labs, is dedicated to providing operational support to the companies in our portfolio. Sometimes the support is very hands on, working closely with management teams to achieve goals. Other times, the operational support may be something as simple as assisting with a hiring process, or providing advice on managing contractors.